Essential Tips for Starting Your Ancestral Research Journey

Essential Tips for Starting Your Ancestral Research Journey

Are you ready to embark on a journey of discovery, tracing your family roots and uncovering the stories of your ancestors? Starting genealogical research can be both exciting and overwhelming. Where do you begin? What resources should you use? How can you avoid common pitfalls along the way?

In this post, we’ve compiled tips for an effective ancestral research to help guide you as you start your journey. So grab a pen and paper (or open up that spreadsheet), and let’s get started!

Setting Goals for Your Ancestral Research

One of the most important things you can do when starting your ancestral research journey is to set clear goals. What are you hoping to learn about your ancestors? What questions do you want to answer? By setting clear goals, you will be able to focus your research and make the most of your time.

Some things to consider when setting goals for your ancestral research:

  • Who are you hoping to learn more about? If you have a specific ancestor in mind, start by focusing your research on that individual using the resources you personally have or through online services like
  • What questions do you want to answer about your ancestor? Write down these questions so that you can refer back to them as you conduct your research.
  • How far back in time are you hoping to go with your research? This will help determine which records you will need to access and how much time you will need to dedicate to your research.
  • What other relatives are you hoping to learn about? As you uncover more information about one ancestor, you may be able to learn more about other relatives as well. Keep this in mind as you set your goals.

Identifying and Collecting Records

There are many ways to go about finding records of your ancestors. Which records you need depends on what you already know about your family and what you hope to learn. If you don’t know much, start with the basics: birth, marriage, and death certificates. These documents can provide a wealth of information, including names, dates, places, and relationships. You can usually order these certificates from the vital records office in the state or county where the event occurred.

If you already have some information about your family, you can use that to help find other records. For example, if you have your great-grandfather’s obituary, it might list his surviving children. You can then search for their birth certificates. Or if you know where your ancestors lived, you can look for census records, property deeds, tax lists, and other local records. Online databases are another great resource for finding ancestors’ records. There are resources online you can use that has an extensive collection of digitized historical records that you can search for free. Many other websites also offer access to online record collections, though they may require a subscription fee.

Once you’ve found some records, it’s important to save copies or make a note of the information they contain. This will help you keep track of what you’ve found and avoid accidentally duplicating work later on.

Finding and Connecting with Family Members

If you’re new to the world of ancestral research, you may be wondering how to go about finding and connecting with family members. Here are a few essential tips to get you started:

  • Start with yourself. The best place to begin your journey is by gathering information about your own immediate family. Talk to your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to learn as much as you can about your family history.
  • Attend genealogy events. Genealogy conferences, seminars, and workshops are excellent opportunities to meet other researchers and learn more about your ancestors. Check the website of the Association of Professional Genealogists or attend a local meetup group to find events in your area.
  • Join a surname study or DNA project. If you’re having trouble finding information on a particular ancestor, consider joining a surname study or DNA project related to your surname or genetic line. This can help you connect with others who are researching the same ancestors and may have helpful information to share.

Storing and Preserving Your Records

If you’re just beginning your journey into ancestral research, one of the most essential tips you can follow is learning how to properly store and preserve your records. Not only will this help to keep your information organized, but it will also protect your records from damage over time. Here are a few tips for storing and preserving your records:

  • Use acid-free storage materials: Acidic materials can cause damage to your records over time, so it’s important to use storage materials that are acid-free. This includes both storage containers and paper.
  • Keep records in a cool, dry place: Your records should be stored in a cool, dry place to prevent them from being damaged by heat or humidity.
  • Avoid direct sunlight: Exposure to sunlight can also damage your records, so avoid storing them in an area where they will be exposed to direct sunlight.

By following these simple tips, you can help to ensure that your records are properly stored and preserved for future generations.


Starting an ancestral research journey can be a daunting task, but with the right tools and information it’s possible to uncover your family’s history. We hope that our five essential tips have given you the knowledge and confidence you need to embark on this amazing journey. You never know what secrets of your family’s past may be waiting for you to discover them! So why not take a leap of faith into your ancestry today?