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S.M.A.R.T. Genealogy Planning Toolkit for
Family History Detectives



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The Family History Detective’s Checklist: Five Essential Steps for Uncovering Your Ancestry
  1. Start with what you know: Begin your genealogy research by gathering information from family members and any existing documents or records you already have. This will give you a starting point for your research and help you identify gaps in your knowledge.
  2. Utilize online resources: The internet has made it easier than ever to access a wide range of genealogy resources, including census records, vital records, and genealogy websites. Make use of these resources to gather information about your ancestors.
  3. Organize and document your findings: As you gather information, be sure to organize it in a way that makes sense to you and that you can easily reference in the future. Use a genealogy software program or create your own system for documenting your research.
  4. Look for clues in unexpected places: While traditional genealogy sources like census records and vital records can be valuable, don’t overlook other sources such as diaries, letters, or photographs. These can provide valuable insights into your ancestors’ lives and help flesh out their stories.
  5. Join a community of genealogy enthusiasts: Genealogy research can be a solitary pursuit, but connecting with others who share your interest in family history can be a great way to learn new techniques, discover new resources, and get help with difficult research problems. Consider joining a genealogy society or online community to connect with other genealogy enthusiasts.

5 top questions about genealogy

Day 1: 10 tips on getting started.

Starting your family history research can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. The first step is to gather information from family members and any existing documents or records you already have. This will give you a starting point for your research and help you identify gaps in your knowledge. Once you have a basic understanding of what you know, you can begin to explore online resources such as genealogy websites and databases, which can provide access to a wide range of historical records and documents. It’s also helpful to organize your research and create a plan for what information you want to gather and how you will go about finding it.


Day 2: 10 tips on where to find information about your ancestors.

There are many places to look for information about your ancestors, and the best place to start will depend on the time period and location of your ancestors. For example, census records, vital records (birth, marriage, and death certificates), and church records can provide information about your ancestors’ names, birth dates, and locations. If your ancestors immigrated to the United States, you may find information in immigration records. Other sources of information include wills, deeds, and military records. You can also find information online on genealogy websites and databases, such as Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org.

Day 3: 10 tips on the process for accessing census records and vital records.

Census records and birth, death, and marriage records can tell you a lot about your ancestors, but it’s important to research the specific requirements of the state or county you are searching in before requesting a record. Before you ask for a record, you should look into the specific rules of the state or county you are searching in.

Day 4: 10 tips on techniques for building your family tree.

Using genealogy software can make building your family tree much easier and more efficient. There are many different genealogy software programs available, such as Ancestry.com, Family Tree Maker, and Gramps. Each program has its own features and capabilities, so it’s important to research and choose the one that best suits your needs. Once you have selected a program, you can begin to enter information about your ancestors and build your family tree. Genealogy software can also help you organize your research and create charts and reports to share with others.

Day 5: 10 tips practical strategies for preserving your family history.

Sharing and preserving your research is an important step in your genealogy journey. You can share your research with other family members by creating charts, reports, or a family tree using genealogy software. You can also share your research online through genealogy websites or social media. It’s important to keep your research in a safe place, like a fireproof safe or a digital backup, so that it can be used by others in the future. You can also consider making a hard copy and storing it in a physical archive. Also, think about hiring a professional genealogist or genealogy researcher to help you keep your work safe for the future.

Want to know more?

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