Beginner's Guide
to Genealogy | Family History

Genealogy, also known as Family History, is the study of our ancestors. Some people would say it has nothing to do with history. However, that's not really true. In fact, every human event was performed by one of our ancestors. Family history is a personal approach to history!
Many of us, when we were children at school, filled in a family chart (also known as a pedigree chart). That was our first step into genealogy.

We asked our parents about their information, about our parent's parents, and so forth. If we were fortunate and our grandparents were still alive, we could ask them directly. We would fill in birth, marriage, and death places and dates for each person. And, then, we were finished!

Many people don't progress beyond filling out this chart. They are missing out on the rich history of their ancestors. Every individual is a product of their ancestors, physically and/or culturally. Learning about our ancestor's lives gives insights into our own life. Plus, it can be fun!

Filling out this chart is an excellent first step. In fact, the pedigree chart is the main tool (along with the family group record) for every family historian, whether they are a beginner or an expert. You can find them in paper form, computer software, and on websites. But, you are probably wondering to yourself, this seems pretty easy! In fact, however, it can be really hard to find this information. That is why there are many websites, including SFgenealogy, that publish various types of family history information on the internet.

You might now be asking, "Can't I just find everything on Ancestry or FamilySearch?" Both of these internet websites have the largest number of  genealogy records on the internet. They also have many family trees typed in by individuals (a tree is the same as a pedigree chart if you turn it sideways!). Although they are a great starting place, they have only a small percentage of what is available off the internet. The family trees submitted by users may also have lots of great information, but they may also have many errors!

We recommend first reading the simple and quick How to Start Researching Your Family Tree, and then watch the Introduction to Genealogy video by the East Baton Rouge Parish Library Genealogy Department. The video will you a great overview of getting started. Many of the same databases are probably available at your local library. If you prefer to take a class in person, look for them at local genealogical societies, libraries, or schools.

WARNING! Genealogy | Family History is very addicting. Once you start, you may not be able to stop.

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