8 Tips for Researching Your Family Tree

When you make the decision to delve into your family tree it can seem like an overwhelming process & you may not know where to start. Here are some helpful tips to guide you on your way!

1. Gather As Much Information as Possible

What do you already know? Logically, the best place is to start with you & your own immediate family. Gather any information from records you may have laying around the house, or by asking parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc for information. This should give you a starting point. While you may not have the details, such as important dates, you should have enough information to begin your search.

2. Get Organized

Whether you’re just looking to learn about your grandparents or trying to trace your tree back as far as you can, it just makes sense to organize yourself. With so much information it can seem hard to keep track of it. Luckily, we have so many different programs today at our fingertips to use.

Ancestry.com has an excellent program called Family Tree Maker. You can purchase the software right from their website & easily get started.


Another alternative is to find freeware to use instead. There are a countless free & outstanding programs out there, such as GRAMPS, Legacy Family Tree or Family Tree Builder by MyHeritage (which is pictured below).


You should find any of these options relatively straightforward to use. Programs like these make it easy to keep track of all of that information & most will even create a diagram for you.

3. Focus!

Researching your family tree can be a daunting task. Your best bet is to single in on one part of the family to research. Start off by picking one person, or even a surname. This should help you narrow your search & keep you from becoming overwhelmed.

4. Try to Find Accurate Sources

While talking with relatives may give you a general idea of some information, it’s not always the most reliable source. A good researcher will always back up their information with credible sources, such as birth certificates, marriage licences, death records, etc.

You may be able to get copies of these directly from family members, or, if your family is in/from a nearby town, you can visit courthouses, city hall, libraries & sometimes even local museums for documentation.

If you’re unable to get your information locally you can reach out to national archives or libraries such as the Library & Archives of Canada or the US National Archives.

5. Go Online

We live in the digital age, so it makes sense that your search will at one point lead you to the internet. While information here can be less accurate, there still are a lot of credible websites to use, such as ancestry.com. There are also great databases & discussion boards to take advantage of. Get involved on Facebook & Twitter. These are great ways to either start a group with your relatives, or reach out to companies & other passionate people to swap stories, get information or share helpful tips!

6. Stay Organized!

Make sure you’re keeping track of all the new information you’ve been gathering. Be sure to keep updating your records with dates, pictures, etc. Keep all your hardcopies in a safe, dry place. You may even wish to scan them into your computer & then import them directly into your family tree software.

7. Share Your Information

This may not seem like a step about researching, but it can be. By sharing your findings with your family, you may just uncover another detail that was forgotten, or even inspire another relative (or two) to join you on your search.

8. Figure out What’s Next

If you get as far as you want, or are able to, why not think about visiting the place where your ancestors lived? This is a thrilling way to retrace the steps of your relatives & have a meaningful experience.

When you’re ready to, why not focus in on another branch of the family & repeat the process all over again? There’s always another journey to take & more stories to unfold!


Gateway Genealogy


Gateway Genealogy

Gateway Genealogy wants to help you discover who you are! Wouldn’t you like to know who your ancestors were? What a glimpse into their lives might look like?

With so many resources at our fingertips, it can be difficult to know where to being your search & gets easily overwhelming. This process can be tedious & time consuming. We’ll do the research for you & we’ll even present all of our findings in a keepsake binder.

All the information we gather, including documents, pictures, & more, will be yours to keep. We’ll even provide an entire list of sources for you

With all of this new information, you’ll have memories & stories to pass on to future generations. We may even be able to help you get in contact with other living family members that you did not know existed!

Why let these precious memories & such an important part of your identity be lost to time? Let us help you piece together your story!

Fore more info email us at gateway.genealogy@live.ca or follow us on twitter @GatewayGene!

Why You Should Research Your Family Tree

Genealogy has definitely gained in popularity in recent years thanks to the internet, shows like “Who Do You Think You Are”, as well as our thirst for knowledge.

But why should you research your family tree?

Medical Reasons

While this may not be the most glamorous reason why, it may arguably be the most important reason. Becoming familiar with your family’s medicinal background may just save your life! Having information about what diseases may or may not run in your family will let you know if there’s things you should be watching out for, getting tested for or even what you might need to do to maintain your health.

Get in Touch With Family Members You Didn’t Even Know You Had

By doing a little digging you may just unearth a whole group of relatives you were completely unaware of. My husband started a small Facebook page with his relatives, just as a way to share pictures & stories with family spread across the globe. Over a year later & this has blossomed to over 100 members that he didn’t even know existed!

Getting in touch with these long-lost relatives has allowed him to learn even more about his roots. New family members can help you validate things you’ve been reseraching & point you in a new direction. Also, new bonds are formed & what can be better than that?

Understanding the Past

What better way to learn & understand past events than learning that your relatives were there in the flesh experiencing if first hand? You never know what you can find!

I have always had a passion for the Tudor period in England. What a surprise when I learned that many of my relatives were there, not only in England, but in court, living & breathing history as it happened. It makes you wonder if this is why I have always had such an interest in this period.

Passing Stories On

Making sure our family stories live on is important. Knowing your family history lets you know your roots, but also, can tell a much bigger story about your family. What better way to keep their legacy alive than passing this on to the next generation.

Of course every person interested in genealogy has their own reasons why they’re getting started. The goal is the same: Where did we come from? What is our story?

What are you going to unearth?