Starting your family tree

Starting your family tree is an exciting undertaking; at the same time the sheer number of resources you will encounter can seem overwhelming. Here are a few tips for getting started:

Basic principles

  • Start with yourself and work backwards generation by generation
  • Document every piece of information you find and where you found it.
  • The key information you need to find for each ancestor includes: full name, residence, occupation, religion, dates of birth, marriage, and death

First steps

Going further

  • Read a general genealogy guide. See our list of recommended titles: Genealogy Guides for Beginners
  • The first records you will look for will be census, vital statistics (birth, marriage, and death), and church records. Check the research guides on this site for tips on where to find these, and other, records.
  • And finally, our best piece of advice: Make an appointment with a genealogy specialist at the library . Library genealogy specialists can meet with you one-on-one to show you how to get started, or help you with research roadblocks.