This is the start of a 15-part series of “how-to” articles for beginner genealogists.

As a fervent genealogy enthusiast, I am dedicating the next few days to discussing this fascinating subject.

My goal is to help beginners gain a deeper understanding of genealogy and its significance.

Genealogy, derived from the Greek word for “generation,” is the study of a family’s ancestry.

It serves as a powerful means of connecting with your family, history, and genetic records, stretching back to the dawn of record-keeping.

What Information Do Genealogists Use?

image of a pedigree chart

Genealogists employ various resources to uncover lineage or pedigree information.

Before the advent of written records, people relied on storytelling to preserve family history.

Even today, much of our family history is passed down through generations via storytelling.

This makes conversations with family members one of the most invaluable sources of genealogical information.

However, record-keeping also plays a crucial role in genealogy.

Family bibles, which are often passed down through generations, can offer valuable insights.

Other useful records include birth certificates, obituaries, wedding announcements, tax assessment records, and census information.

How is Genealogy Information Presented?

Family trees are the most common representation of a family’s lineage.

They typically begin with the earliest known ancestors at the top, branching downwards to include their children, marriages, and so on.

Child-friendly family trees often take the form of an actual tree, with the trunk representing the family core and the branches and leaves symbolizing the family’s extensions.

Besides family trees, genealogical information can be documented in books, software programs, or spreadsheets.

Why Use Genealogy?

People often turn to genealogy out of curiosity about their family history, such as wanting to verify a connection to a famous ancestor.

Genealogy can also help trace genetic and health-related issues.

Projects like the Parr DNA Project illustrate how genealogy can be used to identify family histories of cancer, mental illness, birth defects, and more, even in the absence of a paper trail (birth, death, marriage registrations).

One of the most significant benefits of genealogy is preserving knowledge for future generations.

It fosters a deeper understanding of history, geography, economics, and personal identity. Genealogy helps individuals find their place in the world and enables self-discovery.

Getting Started

Initiating a genealogy project starts with conversations with family members.

Their stories can provide invaluable insights into your family history and guide your research.

Subsequently, you can delve into municipal documents like birth, death, and wedding certificates and registrations.

You might also explore old property tax assessment records and census information.

Genealogy involves a blend of detective work and meticulous record-keeping.

Genealogy connects you to the world and offers a sense of history and belonging.

If you’re interested in learning more about your family tree, begin by reaching out to your living relatives.

Discover your roots, but be warned: genealogy can be addictive! 😉

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