Answers to Frequently Asked Genealogy Research Questions
What is the difference between genealogy and family history?
What is the name of my ancestor in this old photo?
Where can I find the best family tree software?
These questions and others will certainly arise as you begin to research your family’s history. But some genealogy-related questions are more common than others among beginner researchers. Here are just a few of these important questions and answers to help you along your genealogy research journey.
Common Genealogy Research Questions & Answers for Beginners
1.) How do I begin researching my family’s history?
The best way to start tracing your family tree is to begin with yourself. Don’t start researching another family member until you start from your own memories. How far back can you trace your own history? Grab a pen and paper and begin writing down the names of your family members. You may have lost touch with some of them, and some may have passed on, but brainstorming will help you discover how certain relatives fit into your family tree. Write down everyone that you can remember, then share these names with your living family members who may be able to help you fill in some empty branches.
Tip! This article offers more tips on how to begin your research: 10 Simple Tips to Start Researching Your Family History
2.) How do I start building a family tree?
Creating a family tree is probably one of the most enjoyable parts of genealogy research. Because your family tree will be shared with other family members or genealogists, you will want to make it look great. Whether you want to print out a physical family tree template, use family tree software, or build an online family tree, there are nice and creative options that can get you started right now.
Tip! Online family tree builders allow you to collaborate with family members and preserve your family’s legacy for a lifetime. A Crestleaf Family Tree and Timeline makes family tree creation simple — and beautiful.
3.) What is the meaning of my surname?
Did you know that many family surnames evolve over time? This means that your surname can have multiple variations and meanings. This is also why it’s important to understand the origin of your surname. Finding your surname’s origin can help you discover much more about your ancestors and where they came from. Sometimes, finding your last name’s meaning can be as simple as looking at its suffix — but it can also be much more complicated than that. Online surname search tools like Behind the Name may aid you in uncovering your last name’s history and etymology.
Tip! This article offers more tips on finding the origin and meaning of your last name: How to Find the Origin of Your Last Name
4.) Am I related to a famous person?
Did your grandma tell you that you’re related to a former POTUS? Perhaps you’ve heard that a famous celebrity is a distant cousin. Whatever you’ve heard from your family, or even if you share a surname with a famous person, you probably want to see if the suspicions are correct. In order to figure out if you have a famous relative, you must repeat tip number one: begin with you and ask your family members for more information. Plus, famous family trees can often be found online. Try searching through FamousKin.com. Perhaps you will find that the stars do align after all!
5.) Where can I find vital records?
Finding (or not finding) vital records such as marriage records, birth records and death records can make or break your genealogy research. Thankfully, there are many helpful guides to help you locate these records online and elsewhere. Before you begin looking for vital records, you will first want to ask your family members if they have any documents in their possession. If so, the information about certain ancestors could be within arm’s reach!
- Looking for marriage records? Click here: How to Find United States Marriage Records
- Looking for death records? Try these resources: Free Resources for Finding Death Records Online
- Looking for birth records? A guide on finding them: How to Find Birth Records for Genealogy