So you’ve decided to lay the groundwork for establishing your family’s history, but you don’t know where to start or even how to begin.

Documenting your genealogical past is essential, especially as your family starts to age and memories begin to fade, but in the mix of our busy lives and day-to-day responsibilities, delving into your genealogy can easily be relegated to the back-burner as a fleeting thought or unrealized dream.

As daunting as the process may seem, it is entirely possible – even as busy as you are – to start your genealogical journey.

Check Out This Five Step Guide To Jump Start Your Genealogical Journey

Photo: Instagram

1. Hire a professional For the busy person, the quickest way to  kick off your genealogical search and discover your family’s roots is to hire a professional.  Professional genealogists can search the archives, make the phone calls and travel if required.  This can be an expensive proposition but well worth the investment if you are just too busy. However, if you are not quite ready to bring in an expert or commit to making a hire, there are other options.

photo : www.birmingham.ac.uk

2. Create a basic family tree Write up what you do know on a basic family tree.  Familytreetemplates.net offers an array of family trees from which choose.  Documenting what you know on paper provides a sense of accomplishment as well as your next step.  The key is to work with known facts and then move backwards.

3. Conduct Oral History Interviews and Collect Family Memorabilia Fill in gaps in your family tree by conducting oral history interviews with your next of kin and collecting basic information by accessing family documents such as obituaries, bibles, old newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, photo albums, recipes, etc.  Ask the little people in your life if they would like to help!

Photo: African American Women From Between 1920s and 1940s

4. Sign up for a free 14 day trial of Ancestry.com Ancestry.com is the largest genealogical service in the world, its services will allow you to further fill in gaps in your family’s history and expand beyond your and family’s immediate knowledge.  The information (including photos and other media) that you have gathered so far can be uploaded into a digital family tree containing your ancestor’s profiles.  You can also link historical documents such as the US Census, birth, death and military service records to family member profiles as a quick reference.  Accessing other family trees in Ancestry’s huge network is an excellent way to build upon your own.

Photo: Ancestory.com

5. Identify DNA family You have little known biological family or they are reticent on the subject of genealogy.  You can actually seek out DNA family by ordering a DNA test through Ancestrydna.com.  Admittedly, the outcome of this step will not be known for several weeks however, this service allows you to potentially connect with hundreds of DNA family you never knew you had.  DNA family routinely swap information, documents and stories.   With the discovery of DNA family connections, you can plan take your family tree or next family gathering to an entirely new level.

Photo: Ancestry.com

You now have a good understanding of what it would take to jump-start a genealogical search, will you get started?  If not, your family history is too precious to lose. Consider passing along the entire enterprise to another family member with more time on their hands.  Support their efforts financially and otherwise. Happy searching and drop us a line and let us know what you find!


Read Next: Five Questions Every GenXer Should Ask Their Parents Before It’s Too Late

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Karen Clay
Karen Clay... Ph.D. is a forward thinking woman that likes to tie up loose ends.