7 Tips for Getting Started in Genealogy

Once you have mapped our the basic structure of your family tree or you have discovered what others have created for you, then what? How do you go from what you know to what you don’t know?


There are a lot of resources that can help you, but one provides you with bite-size tips daily. The resources are Genealogy Tip of The Day. With permission from the site owner, I’m sharing a few tips from recent years related to the basics of genealogy that even I need to be reminded of regularly.


Can You State Your Problem


Can you state your genealogical problem in one sentence? (read more)


I do attempt to state my problems well, as I have done with the search for relatives of William James Townsend. My current research problem is “Are the Townsends of Franklin County, Ohio in the 1880 US Census relatives to my William James Townsend?”


Writing Genealogical Queries


Before you post a genealogy query online, think about how easy you are making it for someone else to help you. (read more)


I don’t often leave genealogy queries online but this is a great tip for when I do!


Jumping to Assumed Conclusions


One way to avoid doing this is to constantly ask yourself “why?” (read more)


Yep! I did it. I jumped to conclusions and mixed up two Caroline Pueseckers as one.


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Think About Why You Didn’t Find It


Whenever I have a difficult time finding something, I try and ask myself “why was this hard to find? (read more)


I’m having a hard time finding divorce records for several Geiszler relatives. I think I haven’t found them yet is because they are not available online for the time periods I desire to search. This is a project for when traveling to courthouse records in Franklin County, Ohio is more feasible.


One Document Is Not Necessarily Proof


One document provides information and a “proof” is usually an analysis of that document and what it says… (read more)


I like this tip because it’s less about the need for more than one document for ‘proof’ but rather the need to provide the analysis of the document as to why it pertains to different individuals.


Reasonably Doubting Genealogical Proof


Beyond a reasonable doubt is usually too high a bar for genealogical researchers to cross. The preponderance of the evidence and reasonable suspicion are usually a little too low… (read more)


This tip was a bit longer than usual but well worth the read. I have recently taught an intro to FamilySearch.org class and discussed the need to add sources to the family trees. I often say without sources, you might as well say you’re related to Mickey Mouse. There was a lawyer in my class and we discussed these very terms and how they relate to genealogy. So glad I can now just send a link to a great tip.


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Do You Look for Context


No event happens in a vacuum. (read more)


This very tip helped me understand what might be the story of my Grandma Evaline Townley why she appeared in a City Directory at the age of 22 and then disappeared from records until she married at 32. Her mother passed away after the City Directory was created and left three younger brothers without a woman to care for the home. By looking at events in context, I think I know what Evaline was doing.

As you can see, Genealogy Tip of The Day is a great resource. Add it to your must-read blogs.

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