How to Research Family History and Preserve Those Precious Memories


There’s no better time than the present to document the past.

Interest in genealogy and digging into a person’s family history is at an all-time high in the U.S. Did you know that more than 26 million people have taken an at-home ancestry test?

But there’s no need to spend a lot of money figuring out where your relatives came from. It’s simple to learn how to research family history on your own.

If you’re willing and ready to start the legwork, read on to learn some basic steps that will have your family tree flourishing in no time.

Learn How to Research Family History  

The first step in creating a full picture of your ancestors is to learn how to gather data.

Researching family history is not hard, but it does involve a lot of fact-checking, document-searching, and knowing how the pieces fit together.

Before long, you’ll have a long list of names and dates. To keep yourself organized, consider using a free online template to make a family tree

First-hand Interviews

One of the best ways to research family history is to start at home.

Begin retracing your family history by reaching out to living older relatives. Often they have first-hand knowledge of events, names, and family stories. They may even surprise you with some ideas for researching family history.

Plan on a sit-down recorded interview so relatives have a chance to think about the past and recall family stories. After the interview, use any names, dates, years as the baseline as you expand your family history search.

Search Home Documents

Try scouring any documents at home. Sometimes finding a relative who has kept a scrapbook of family events is a great place to start. 

Dig through any old family keepsakes, like a family Bible, diplomas, marriage certificates, and other important documents that might include specific names and dates.

Often a forgotten family album is a treasure-trove of information that will lead genealogy enthusiasts to the next clue and help fill in the history blanks.

Search Online Sources

If you’re looking for advice to research family history, a simple Internet search pulls up hundreds of potential starting points. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. 

For ease of research, stick with resources such as the U.S. 1940 census, a great starting point to trace names, birthplaces, passenger lists, and immigration dates.

In 2012, the National Archives released the 1940 census and opened the online doors to digital images of millions of census pages.

Begin Building the Family History Tree Now

Now that you know the steps to take on how to research family history, there is no better time to start than now.

Reach out to older living relatives. Interview them. Take those pieces of living history and work backward.

It takes time to fill in the pieces of the puzzle. Before long, your family tree will be in full bloom.

If you got inspired to start documenting your family history, then check out more exciting content on other interesting topics on our website.