It's never too late to begin genealogy

Published: Monday, March 25 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

While many attendees at RootsTech are genealogy veterans, there are also many beginners. In a class for beginners, Lisa Alzo gave tips and ideas on ways to get started to do family history.

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SALT LAKE CITY — It may seem like the RootsTech Conference at the Salt Palace would be full of genealogy experts, but there are also many people who are just beginning their quest to learn more about their ancestors.

Among the workshops discussing tips and tricks about genealogy, a workshop titled “Online Genealogy for the Absolute Beginner” was well attended.

“All you need to know as a beginner is that you can do it,” said instructor Lisa Alzo.

Alzo introduced beginners to useful genealogy websites, including www.familysearch.org, www.billiongraves.com, www.ancestry.com and more.

Alzo also discussed several tips for beginners to know.

One tip was to create a separate email account for genealogy purposes so emails and research-related to genealogy wouldn’t get lost amid work or personal emails. It also prevents losing data in case one’s personal email is hacked, she added.

Another tip is to try out different genealogy websites and programs before buying them. While some memberships are free of charge, others require a subscription and what may work for one genealogist may not work for another.

Alzo described genealogy as being broken into three parts: skill, perseverance and serendipity.

Attendees of the class may have been looking to acquire the skill for research, but it’s also important to remember to persevere through the difficult times and to understand that some success is happenstance, she said.

The first steps of genealogy are to figure out what you already know, have a goal in mind and conduct research.

Social media is another tool for relatives to find each other, Alzo told the class. Although it may not feel the same as finding relatives who have already passed away, a friend request from a distant cousin on Facebook can link to other sources of genealogy as well as build friendships with living relatives.

If one doesn’t know where to begin genealogy work, start with a broad search, Alzo said. Even if it’s just searching for one’s last name on Family Search, that’s a start.

“If somebody tells you that you’re doing it wrong as a beginner, ignore them,” Alzo said.

Megan Marsden is an intern with the Deseret News writing for the Faith & Family section. She is currently a junior at BYU-Idaho studying communication.

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