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Before Beginning

I'll work with you to:

Ask the right questions. 


The more specific the research question the more likely you’ll get satisfying answers.  For instance, you might ask “what was my great-grandfather’s life like?”.  This is a good start but we could focus the research even more by asking “When and where was my great-grandfather born and where did he live during his teenage years?”  This is more likely an achievable and motivating goal. Information gathered while researching this question might also turn up secondary information (neighbors, rediscovered family members, geography, historical events, etc.) that will add color to his story.  See my article on my grandfather’s experiences during WW I.


Work from the known to the unknown.


  1. What has already been collected?

  2. What’s been done and who has done it?

  3. Is there a preliminary survey?  If not then complete one.  Download example from this page.

  4. Are there existing compiled genealogies you can access (e.g. or

  5. Write down everything you find or at least a reference to where you can find it again quickly. Don’t worry about making it pretty.

  6. Prepare a Pedigree Chart (family tree) for yourself compiling all the information you find. Download examples from this page.

  7. Prepare family group forms.  Download examples from this page.

  8. Don’t work on everything at once.  Pick a single family line that you are excited about or two or three lines in the same geographical area and focus on those.

Download a Family Group Sheet Template (familygroup.doc)

Download a Pedigree Chart Template (Family Tree1.xls or Ancestor.doc)

Download Genealogy Discovery Questionnaire

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