5 steps to get you started researching your family history
- Identify What You Know about Your Family
- Decide What You Want to Learn about Your Family
- Select Records to Search
- Obtain and Search the Record
- Use the Information, then start over again with step 1
An example from my own experience.
An overview of the steps, oriented to the Family History Center resources.
LDS Family History Library and Family History Centers
Local Family History Centers (FHC) are extensions of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
The Family History Library has acquired permission to microfilm various records from a substantial number of places in the US, Canada, the British Isles, Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico, etc.. These are often civil records such as birth, marriage and death records, and/or parish or other ecclesiastical records such as birth, christenings, marriage, death and burial records. The Family History Library (FHL) also has many books of interest to genealogical researchers; compiled family histories, histories of particular places or regions, and also collection submitted by various researchers. Many of these books and collections have been microfilmed as well.
Copies of the microfilms are available through interlibrary-loan to the Family History Centers located around the world. You can order the microfilms for viewing at the FHCs for a modest fee of $3.50/roll. A number of the resources are alternatively available on microfiche for only 15 cents/sheet plus 25 cents shipping per order.
Some FHL/ FHC and related web pages:
Software for managing your collected information
Personal Ancestral File v5 for Windows -
- downloadable for free from http://familysearch.org, for a limited time (about 10MB). Requires Windows 95B, 98, ME, NT 4.0, 2000 or Windows 95A with Microsoft Internet Explorer. A PAF User's Guide Adobe PDF format is also free. An optional utility, PAF Companion, features additional options for printing charts and reports. There are some help pages for the beginner located at VCGG.
- PAF 5 also includes a Palm Computing application that can be installed on your PDA that facilitates carrying your PAF database with you on your Palm, Visor or other Palm compatible device.
- DOS/Windows 3.1 and MAC versions of PAF are also available, including a Maintainence Update for earlier versions of PAF 3, all from the same URL.
Family Tree Maker –
from Brøderbund, has a large number of Family Archive CD-ROM resources available, some as databases, and some as images of books, pertaining to multitude of topics including immigration, settlement, Census Indexes, Marriage indexes for the States, etc. FTM also produces the World Family Tree, a constantly growing collection of user-submitted genealogies. (CD-ROM viewers are available separately; the FTM database software is not required to view the Family Archive CDs)
The Master Genealogist - professional strength software
Other software available for...
- Windows 95/98: Ultimate Family Tree, Generations, Ancestral Quest, Brother's Keeper, Family Origins, Legacy, GeneWeb, etc.
- DOS: ProGen, and some earlier versions of products, such as Roots and The Master Genealogist, are very good suited to professional use.
- Mac computers: Reunion, Family Heritage, Ultimate Family Tree (to be discontinued), MacRoots II, etc.
- and even a few for UNIX operating systems: LifeLines, GeneWebetc.
Other Features of the various database software:
A growing number of the programs have various genealogical resources available on CD-ROM in an associated format; everything from Census indexes to compilations of European royalty, all kinds of books, etc.
A number of the genealogical database programs also allow pictures to be included in the database, linked to an individual’s entry. Photos or other images can be converted to electronic format with a scanner. Various image editing software can be found for editing images, including restoring old or damaged photos.
Brief genealogical database software product reviews and/or descriptions can be found at GenSoftsb, and also through various links on http://www.cyndislist.com/lds.htmCyndi's List. The Master Genealogist web site has a comparison chart of various software as do some of the other manufactures.
The GEDCOM Standard
GEDCOM, the Genealogical Data Communications standard, developed by the LDS Church, facilitates the exchange of database information over the Internet by ftp, email attachment, or by sharing of diskettes. The GEDCOM standard is supported by most of the genealogical database software products. By converting your database to a GEDCOM File, you can share it with others, by email or by giving them a diskette, and they can then review the data and even add a portion or the whole of it to their database if desired. For large files you will want to make a compressed zip file from the GEDCOM file, with a utility such as PKZip or WinZip. When a GEDCOM or other file has been compressed, it doesn't take as long to send or receive the file. You may also contribute your file as an addition to the Ancestral File, the same database available at http://familysearch.org (and at the FHCs around the country).
Various GEDCOM repositories are available online to which you can submit your files so other researchers can find them. Some of the repositories will allow you to download the complete file uploaded by the submitter. Other sites will allow you to retrieve portions of the submitter’s file, such as family group sheets and pedigree charts, or access the information via other means. Some will even convert your GEDCOM to web pages and host those pages on their site.
There are also a number of utilities you can use at home to convert a GEDCOM file to web pages that you can publish on your own web site; Ged2html, GedPage, and others. Some of these also generate an index for submission to the GENDEX. Many of the Internet Service Providers and Online Services, such as Prodigy, America Online, Compuserve, etc., allot each subscriber an amount of space on the company servers for user's web sites. Free space is also available from a number of other places such as RootsWeb, FortuneCity.com, GeoCities.com, Tripod.com, NBCi.com, and others.
Constructing your own web site is not difficult and there are number of products that make it easy, to include your text, scanned photos, graphics, and music can be included as well.
I've written a short tutorial on how to submit an index of the individuals in your text web site pages to the GENDEX, where other researchers can find them and click the link to your web site.
Internet Genealogy Intro - Part B
This Internet Genealogy Introduction page can be found at -