One of the most frequently asked questions about genealogical research is, "Where do I begin?"
Paul Nauta, manager of public affairs for FamilySearch, the online family history search engine and records collection for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, suggests researchers start simply with their own memory. The FamilySearch Web site, www.familysearch.org, lists six basic steps that will make family history research easy for anyone:
• Remember your ancestors. Remembering personal information such as names; other members of the family; dates and places of important events such as birth, marriage and death; ancestral villages; and occupations will help in identifying family members. Obtain a pedigree chart and a family group record form both offered on the site and fill out as much information as you can.
• Use sources in your home. Look for birth, marriage and death certificates; family bibles; funeral programs and obituaries; wedding announcements; family registers; and ancestral tablets to help fill out any missing information on the forms from the first step.
• Ask relatives for information. Be sure to ask specifically for the information you would like. For example, "Do you know when Aunt Jane was born?"
• Choose a family or ancestor you want to learn more about. Start with generations closest to you and work your way back. It's usually easier to find information for a family member born in a recent period.
• See if someone else has already found the information. Look for names in "Search for Ancestor" and the "Family History Library Catalog Surname Search" both on the site that have already had histories submitted.
• Search records for information about your ancestor using Research Guidance, a resource provided on the FamilySearch Web site.
The site offers many other resources to aid in research, including personal ancestral files, a search for ancestors, research helps and links to other family history Web sites.
All the tools on the site were created with "the beginner in mind," Nauta said. No training is required to begin family history research.For those who do not have Internet access and do not live near the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Nauta advises getting in touch with stake and family history centers, where volunteers can help.