Getting started in family history research

cartoon This is a series of pages to help beginners start their family history using proven research techniques. In our travels we see lots of researchers who seem to lack a plan of attack. They use the fowl yard principle - hunt and peck - rather than developing a strategy!
• The most important principle of all family history research is to start with yourself, or the subject of your enquiries, and work backwards in time through available records from the known to the unknown
• If you try to work forward in time from some historical character who is supposedly your ancestor, or of your surname, the usual consequence will be much wasted time, many dead-ends and little real progress.
• It is most important to note here that a pedigree or ancestral chart goes backward in time from the present, starting with you [or the subject of your research] and shows your two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so on.
• A descending chart is quite different in that it shows all the known descendants of a given ancestral pair [eg children, grandchildren] and who they married [cousins, aunts, uncles, etc]. It comes forward in time from the past to the present. It is often called a tree. It is something to consider when you have collected a lot of information.
It is usual to begin with a pedigree chart to identify your direct ancestry.
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