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Beginning your Quest

Start at the end, rather than the beginning. In other words start with your self and work backward. This will help assure that your are indeed working with your ancestors--not someone with the same or similar surname. Family names are often altered from generation to generation. There is no "correct" spelling for any name.

Record everything you know about each of your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc.; Birth date, Birthplace, Death date and burial location. Record the names of all their children and their spouses and descendents. Include marriage details, education, immigration and naturalization. Also record information regarding military service, awards, careers and other personal information. These are all evidence to your roots. These clues may prove invaluable in the future.

Verify all information. Even though you find something in print, online, or from someone's data files, it may be incorrect. Transcription errors are common. Too frequently, records are even fictionalized. All facts must be verified. Your records should include source details--proof-- for all those facts.

Record your data on standard genealogical forms, such as Pedigree Charts and Family Group Sheets. Forms are available from your local genealogy society, from stores which specialize in genealogical supplies or from a variety of web sites. You might use Google and search for "Genealogy Forms PDF" or something similar.

Computer programs are also available to record information and print reports. I suggest PC/Mac lineage programs such as Family Tree Maker, Roots Magic and Ancestral Quest. A PC only program is Legacy Family Tree. Mac only programs are Reunion and MacFamily Tree. Wikipedia has a comprehensive list of genealogy software. Most have a mobile version for your phone or tablet that synchronize with the desktop version.

Putting your family tree on the web can reach many people. The FamilySearch Family Tree (LDS) is a one-world tree and is free. Most of the above software programs also allow uploading of your family tree to their web sites, notably Ancestry.com which synchronizes with Family Tree Maker (fee-required). There are also do-it-yourself web sites, described in this Wikipedia article.