Make My Own Family Tree – Where do I start?
So, I have made the decision to research my family history and make my own family tree.
I am excited, can’t wait to get started and are raring to go!
Where do I start?
Who do I begin with?
What is the first thing I should do?
Where do I start looking?
How do I record my information?
These are just some of the questions I needed to answer before I could start my adventure, so it seems to be the logical place to begin our journey here:
Where do I start?
As with most questions a decision is required to find the answer.
Making the right decision for you, depends on having as much information as possible to make the decision with.
So how did we go about doing this?
We took stock of our situation and determined exactly what information was available to us.
Together with my mother, who is a family history buff herself, we located and reviewed everything we could lay our hands on. Not only the notes, certificates, photos, documents and hand drawn trees left by my grandfather, but anything else we could find for any of the other branches of our family tree.
Once we had all this information, we could develop a clearer picture of where we were placed and what it was we needed to do.
With three vital questions being answered:
- What was done?
- What is needed to be done to be considered complete? and,
- What was yet to be started?
a decision could be made on where we wanted to start.
You may find that a lot of the research has already been done by a distant relative, or you may find that there has been nothing done by anyone else in the family and you need to start from scratch. You may even be somewhere in between.
Whatever the circumstance, everyone’s situation will be different. But you won’t know where you need to start until you complete this process.
Once we had a idea of what we had, we could decide what research path we should take and where we should start.
Some points to consider:
If no previous research has been carried out
- Begin with yourself and move back in time
If previous research has been completed
- Do you continue on with that branch of the family?
- Has the research on that branch been exhausted?
- Do you take the research as gospel or, do you confirm prior to moving on (This would normally be determined by whether or not there is documentation gathered/available to confirm the current research ie Birth, Death or Marriage, Wills, Census, Tax, or Land records etc).
- Have all the details that you are interested in been covered? Ie If there is only names and Date of Birth/Death do you want to take the research further and find occupation, addresses, baptisms, newspaper articles (if they exist) etc
- Are there holes in the family tree that you want to fill?
Some Research paths are:
- Paternal – Following your Fathers line
- Maternal – Following your Mothers line
- Paternal and Maternal – Following both your Father’s and Mother’s line
- Surname Based – Researching your ancestors with the chosen surname
- Family Branch Based – Picking one branch of the family and researching all members of it.
We chose to research both the Paternal and Maternal lines, as this is what my grandfather had done previously.
Your choice, obviously, may be different and will depend on what information you have available to you, the particular branch of the family that peaks your interest or, even the reason you are wanting to undertake this research.
We also decided to start on a new branch which had not previously been researched.
Obviously, to outline all the research that was done (in all our family branches) would take far to long and involve way to much duplication of the research techniques and hurdles that the coming articles intend to highlight. So, instead, in the coming weeks, I will follow the research and paths we took to discover the members of two branches of our family.
The first, is the Lyons family, as this is research is mainly based in Australia and has links back to the First Fleet. The goal here being, to outline Australian Specific research techniques and hurdles.
The second, will be the Barton family, as this research is mainly based in the UK, with the goal being to outline UK Specific research techniques and hurdles as seen from the Australian researcher’s perspective.
If you wish to view our full Family Tree please visit our Family History Website
As for the other questions raised here they will be answered in the coming articles.
So, lets begin …
Make Your Own Family Tree – Deciding what to do…
Please let Me know what your thoughts