Deciding to complete a genealogy project is not something that you should take lightly.
While some projects will be brief, others may take you on a series of twists and turns that last for years or even longer in some cases.
Finding your family’s genealogy is not always an easy task and will often require lengthy research and sometimes the support of experts.
Studying family genealogy can be a fascinating project that is likely to provide you with information you did not know.
The information you find can be both surprising and unsettling, but one thing is for sure it will likely be time-consuming, so you need to have the proper tools and guidance to ensure your research is successful.
That’s where investing in genealogy books can really help.
- Best Genealogy Books for Beginners 2024
- Where to Start
- Common Problems
- How to Document
- Getting Help
- How Far Back Should You Go?
- Tips for Successful Research
- Final Thoughts
Best Genealogy Books for Beginners 2024
This book is fabulous for beginners that are not quite sure of where to begin when they begin researching their genealogical history.
There are so many different paths and methods for researching that this book will give you a roadmap to follow.
Researching your family tree can be extremely time-consuming and involves a lot of research.
Along with that research comes an immense amount of documentation.
While this may seem like a fabulous thing when researching your family history, it can be extremely challenging to keep it all organized in one place.
One of the key components of this book is the ability to help you find locations to gather research, the questions to ask, and what to do with all of the documentation once you receive and collect it.
There is also a component of this book that discusses DNA discovery when researching your family tree.
Once you have determined where to access and gather research and information for your project, you need to have a way to organize everything so it does not become overwhelming to you.
Some may think you throw it in a box or bin and go through it as you need to.
While this can be effective for some, it is not likely the best way to keep your materials organized.
This book will help you develop an appropriate way to organize and store all the information you are working so hard to gather.
Not only will this book share traditional organization ideas that genealogists have used, but it will also share several online resources that you can use to help keep your materials organized.
Technology has added a great deal of specificity and reach when researching family trees and genealogy.
Technology has advanced to such great lengths that it is now possible to do DNA research to trace your family background more accurately.
DNA results can often be overwhelming because of the scientific detail that goes into the reports.
While helpful, this can be too much for some researchers to handle if they are not versed in scientific speak.
This book provides detailed information to help even the most novice genealogists with the ability to read their DNA results with accuracy.
Perhaps you have not chosen a location to get your DNA tested and need to find the most suitable company for both your budget and needs.
This book shares the companies you can use as well as which will best fit your needs.
Having this information before you begin the process of DNA testing can help save both time and money.
When researching your family tree or genealogy, you are bound to run into errors and situations that are tricky to navigate.
Using this book, you will hopefully be able to avoid any pitfalls that may come your way.
This book was created to help all family tree researchers move past difficulties they may face during the research process.
If you have ever begun a family research project, you know various situations can arise to put all progress at a standstill.
Having this book handy when researching will be helpful, especially when you run into situations that leave you scratching your head and wondering what to do next.
While this book will not answer every question you have, it is likely to help you with several sticky situations.
If there was ever a gold mine of a book, this must be the one when it comes to researching your family tree.
The book provides you with resources to use during your research, many of which are free.
This is a bonus to your research because most sites require a payment to use the services.
You will also find ways to interpret DNA results as well as other documentation.
During the research, it is often challenging to find a starting point and choosing an end in mind.
This book is formatted in a way that allows you to walk through the process from beginning to end without getting stuck in the middle of a project and ultimately abandoning it.
The practicality of this book makes it a favorite of many novice genealogists.
Where to Start
When you decide you will begin researching your family tree, there is likely a lot of adrenaline and excitement pushing your feet first into the project.
While this level of enthusiasm is welcome and necessary, it is also enough to add chaos to your research.
Not because you are not excited and ready, but because it can make it challenging to find the right starting point for research.
Determining what you already know
Beginning to research the family tree can be overwhelming, but you likely already know quite a bit about the generations closest to you.
If you are lucky, several individuals are still living, so you can ask questions to give information about generations past.
When you begin asking questions, you must record everything, either with a tape recorder or writing.
While it may seem like you will remember every little nugget shared, it is likely not possible, and you will end up confused and frustrated.
Setting a goal
Why are you choosing to research your family history?
Are you interested in a particular time, event, or person?
Genealogy research can be a consuming task that needs to begin with an end in mind.
If you do not have a trajectory to follow, you are much more likely to stop researching when things get complicated.
Having a goal in mind helps keep you focused, but it is also helpful if you need to reach out to an expert of help during the process.
When an individual knows the reason behind the research, the likelihood that they will help you is much greater.
There are tons of sources when it comes to researching your family tree.
While it may seem like everything is the best option, you must narrow your sources down.
Starting small is the best way to go.
This helps ensure that you do not get lost in the fluff of the research process.
Having a goal will also make it much easier for you to find useful resources for your research.
It will help direct you to where you need to find sources, whether in war records or general census data.
Every little bit of guidance you can get will be helpful on your family tree research journey.
- Public libraries
- Local historical society
This is the part that is fascinating and frustrating at the same time.
You can likely expect to find yourself in the thick of research only to hit a brick wall.
When this happens, you need to be able to readjust and find new resources.
There have been books written to help with situations like these specifically.
When you are researching, it is important that you not analyze everything you are looking at during the research.
If you do this, you will likely bet burnt out and find yourself jumping down many rabbit holes that lead to nowhere.
Keeping your research focused on your end goal will help keep you on track.
Completing an analysis of your information
After you have gathered all your research, you are ready to sit down and analyze everything.
This may seem like an easy task, but this is one of the most challenging parts of the entire process.
Analyzing all your research can lead you into a pattern of needing to find more resources to continue your research to arrive at the answers you are hoping for.
When analyzing, be sure to keep your goal in mind. This will help you to look at your research in a much more focused manner.
During the analysis process, you may find yourself needing support from an expert to help dig through the information you have.
Doing any form of research that takes you through generations past is sure to be problematic at some points.
If it were a seamless process, everyone would be researching their family trees.
Before beginning, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the most common challenges you may be facing.
Name misspelling and inaccurate birth records are extremely common because accurate records were not always maintained, especially during the immigration process.
Finding inaccuracies can be frustrating, but it does not mean your research is over; it just means you need to approach it differently.
Lack of organization can lead to many problems during the research process.
Suppose you cannot maintain a system of organizing the information and documents you collect.
In that case, you will not properly analyze your family tree, which can be frustrating and will inhibit your research process.
Spelling variations often throw a wrench into the research process because they can offset an entire family line beyond a certain generation.
It would be best if you were prepared with all possible spellings for the last name.
This will help save time and patience.
While many other things could come up during the research process, these are the most common issues faced by novice and expert genealogists.
(Source: Family Search)
How to Document
Before spending countless hours researching your family background, you need to have a plan for proper documentation in place.
- Label everything
- Determine which system of filing is best for you. (Name, family, or event)
- Use technology to help you document.
- Typing conversations
- Recording conversations
- Use a specific family tree program to keep track of what you are learning.
No matter how you choose to document your findings, you need to ensure you are using consistency throughout the process.
If you change your pattern of documentation, it will likely be challenging to reach your end goal with the research.
(Source: Thought co)
As much as you would like to tackle this process on your own, you will likely come to a point where you need to enlist the help of an expert.
This help may be simply answering a question about a document or helping you to search for a better document to suit your needs.
Whatever the need is, you should not feel bad about asking for help.
If you ask an expert to help you do a significant amount of research, you will need to pay for their services.
This fee can be quite hefty, coming in between $25-$50 per hour of research (Source: Broadcast Lds).
If you are not willing to pay this fee, you will need to do an online search to see if you can find answers independently.
How Far Back Should You Go?
You may be wondering how far back you should try to research.
This answer is going to vary by person and end goal.
Some people only want to study close generations while others want to go back as far as they can.
Remember, the further back you go when researching, the more difficult it gets to find resources to back up your findings or even find the family line’s continuation.
If you want to go far back, you will need to do a lot of research and be prepared to put a lot of time into the research process.
After reading all this talk about resources, you may be wondering what resources can be used to determine your family tree.
The good news is that technology has opened research doors that did not exist several years ago.
While technology is fantastic, you will want to try first some tried and true paper resources.
- Record collections
- Immigration records
- WWII Enlistment Records
- Crime records
- Old Records
- Other Historians
- Genealogical library
- Public library
- DNA records
As you can see, you may need to visit a lot of resources as you explore your family tree.
While there are many resources available, not all will provide you with the information you need to reach your goal.
Tips for Successful Research
Being a good researcher and being successful are two different things. When you set off to research your family history, you want to have as many tips and tricks up your sleeve as you can.
Here are a few things recommended by top genealogists.
Staying organized will help you to push through any roadblocks you may face. It will also help you to make sense of everything you are learning.
Document Everything you Know
Before you start digging into resources, sit down and write everything you already know about your family history. You may be surprised with how much you already know.
Use Your Living Family as Resources
Visit with living family members and ask questions about people and events they remember. They may know information about generations before you. This will save time when researching.
Write Things Down
Get into the habit of writing everything down. Do not try to rely on our memory because you will likely forget when it comes time documenting it in your history.
When you are speaking with live relatives, it would be a good idea to have a small tape recorder to record everything they say, this will likely be more accurate than your written account, and it allows you to enjoy the conversation.
Collect all the documents you can to support your research. This includes birth and death certificates, immigration records, wills, census records, deeds to land home, and much more.
Preserve all Documentation
Some of the documents you receive will be fragile with age. Make sure you are appropriately storing these so they maintain their integrity
Scan items or take photos of everything, so it is protected. This also allows you to use the computer for research instead of handling potentially fragile documents.
There are many different resources and great books you can use to help create your family tree. There are also lots of online courses and webinars to learn more – see here.
If you are unable to find a print or technological resource, try turning to historians or others that may be able to recount the past.
Using a detailed book to help you plan a map and problems solve issues that may arise is a necessity if you want to complete a successful research project.