Family tree research: The starting points for the ultimate people searches

It sounds like a historic task but put simply, family trees are right on trend at the moment. In fact, this trend has never ended, and the internet has made the job of the family tree enthusiast even easier to get their head around.

However, the internet is by no means a magic solution. While it can make people searches easier than ever before, at the same time a complete novice to the family trees isn’t going to be able to take to the task that easily.

They need some starting blocks, and through the course of today’s post we will highlight some of the key preliminaries that one needs to take into account before getting into the nitty gritty of a family tree.

Preliminary #1 – Never delve into the unknown

While your aim might be to start your family tree from the early 1800s, this isn’t where your research should begin. This is a common error by the new family tree enthusiast, as they bid to piece together data from centuries ago. At first it might be fun, but this enjoyment will soon transpire to frustration once you start to run into a lot of blocked roads.

The easiest way to start a family tree is from now. You will have some information about existing, or at least recently deceased family members, and you can go from there. If you can’t talk to anyone who was around from a particular era, the job becomes increasingly difficult.

Preliminary #2 – Start from the obvious

Another important point to note from the beginning is to always start from the most obvious sources of information. For example, while churches and other historical institutions can provide absolutely golden data at some points, this is still quite hard to get hold of in the first place.

Instead, make your job easier. People search engines and the internet are the easiest sources you can turn to, so start with these and build up as much of your family tree as possible before you start to approach some of the tougher resources.

Preliminary #3 – Things might not be spelt exactly as you believe

One issue that delays a lot of people is misspellings. In short, especially in relation to historical archives, names were often spelt wrong. In some cases it might not have been a misspelling either, it might have been that a person was known through their middle name, or even their initials. This of course will throw your research all over the place, if you are basing it all on one name and one name only.

Preliminary #4 – Indexes don’t always tell the truth

If you have already started some of your research, you will know all about indexes. This is the bread and butter of family tree research and is quite often your first port of call when frantically looking for a name.

Unfortunately, sometimes information is lacking in this regard. Sometimes the index doesn’t contain all information that you require, and this can hamper your progress immensely. Instead, check archives page-by-page – this will guarantee that the information is there or not.

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