Just beginning genealogy–or know someone who is? It can be a little overwhelming! Please read and share this Q&A post.
Recently I heard from Mary Ann, who has received some great genealogy information on both sides of her family from “trusted and seasoned genealogists.” Lucky her!
Since then, she’s been deluged with suggestions about how to proceed. She wrote to me for some clarification. I’m glad she did! I created Genealogy Gems because there is so much “noise” out there about how to do genealogy. I research all the options and share the best of the best, the “genealogy gems” worth your time. Here are her 4 questions, and here is how I answered them:
Q: Beginner resource. Is there a list of what everyone needs to begin, sort of like a Beginner’s Starter Kit for genealogy studies? This question is truly a “I don’t know where to start” question. Help!
A: The free Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast (like an online radio show) is sort of a “Genealogy 101” class. It will start you at the beginning and walk you through the research process. I think you will really enjoy it! (Read more about it below.)
We also have a nice collection of articles on our website for beginners. You can find all of our past “Beginner” articles at the home page of our website (image right). At the top left just under the main red menu you will see a drop down menu called “Select Content by Topic.” Click the down arrow and select “Beginner” from the list. This will display all our past Beginner-friendly articles on your screen starting with the most recent. (Or click here to go right to the Beginner article search results.)
Q: Software. Various friends tell me I need “this” software or “that” software…and honestly, since they have not told me anything more concrete about them than “your need these,” I am reluctant to just buy stuff and start typing.
A: Here’s an article that specifically talks about choosing a genealogy software database. I highly recommend that you have your own software on your computer and don’t just rely on adding information to your tree on sites like Ancestry. I use Rootsmagic and they have been a long time sponsor of my podcast.
Q: Podcasts. I am a senior citizen and don’t have a so-called smart phone or internet on my phone. I have a PC. Can I get your audio programs on a regular PC? What does a subscription cost?
A: Absolutely you can listen on your PC! You can start by simply going to our home page and you will see our podcast player in the center. Just click it and you can listen through your computer’s speakers.
- The Genealogy Gems Podcast is a free show, and there are over 180 episodes available here in our archive.
- I also have a show called Family History: Genealogy Made Easy which is 46 recorded episodes. It’s available here on our website. Or you can hover your mouse over “Podcasts” in the menu on our home page and then select the podcast you want from the drop down menu.
Q: Conferences. I know you will be at an all-day seminar [coming up in my area]. I am a little afraid to drive 3 hrs away and maybe, maybe, feel totally overwhelmed. Do other beginners feel that way?
A: My best advice to a beginning genealogist: Just start!
Genealogy is for your enjoyment and for your family’s benefit. Take courage and jump in! Genealogy Gems is here to help you every step of the way.
And yes, I encourage you to come to the seminar. You will meet lots of kind helpful people there who enjoy family history–many of whom probably recall being overwhelmed beginners–and we’ll have a lot of fun!
If you would like to come to an upcoming conference or seminar, click here to see where I’ll be in the next few months.
Who do YOU know who is beginning genealogy and could use this advice? PLEASE share this article with them! Just copy and paste the URL into an email, or share via social media.
More Beginner-Friendly Articles at Genealogy Gems
Tell Your Ancestor’s Story: Use Social History for Genealogy
Tips for Digitizing Old Home Movies and Photos
7 Reasons to Start a Family History Blog