How to Start Your Family History

famil-yhistory

I’ve done a little family history recently, and I thought I would share some of what I learned.

One thing that I enjoy doing is trying to go as far back as I can down my family line to see the royalty I am related to.

Luckily, I have family that already did a lot of my family history. If you are able to go far enough back the only family you will find were royalty.

Generally, when you find someone in one of the  royal families, they will be related to other royal families. Royal families often married each other for political reasons, alliances, and to further distance themselves from the lower classes.

Supposedly, some of my family history goes back to about 800 BC.  Also, when you go that far back records can become a bit suspect. Myth and legend gets mixed up with history. Someone put in my family history that I am related to Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem, and Odin of Asgard, whose mythical family matches all the names on my family history chart.

Family history is a lot more than long lists of names. Some of the most interesting family history are simply inspiring stories of perseverance, strength, and even faith.

I used familysearch.org, which is run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but available to the general public. There are millions of records (and more become available regularly) and the website makes it very easy to get started.

They have a helpful page on how to get started if you are the first in your family to attempt an organized family history project, and here are some more resources as well.

Here is a brief overview of the tips they suggest (with my commentary):

1) Talk With Family

Take some time to visit with relatives, and interview them about their lives. Gather pictures and stories, and create the start of your family history. This can also be a fun way to learn more about people in your family, and hear stories you may not have heard otherwise.

2) Discover What’s Been Done

This is similar to talking with family — find out what’s already been done. You never know if you had some kind of brilliant family historian somewhere down the line. Being able to talk to those who have already done research can help make sure you don’t duplicate work, or mess up something a person has already been working on.

3) Look at your Family Tree

If work has already been done, chances are, someone has already created a family tree. Many people have family history books, which can contain information and stories about your family. On FamilySearch.org, you can easily view your family tree, and go back as many generations as there is information put in. If you are really serious about finding your family members from the past, having an accurate family tree is essential. One fun way to view your family history, if you have information up on FamilySearch.org, is by creating a

On FamilySearch.org, you can easily view your family tree, and go back as many generations as there is information put in. If you are really serious about finding your family members from the past, having an accurate family tree is essential. One fun way to view your family history, if you have information up on FamilySearch.org, is by creating a

One fun way to view your family history, if you have information up on FamilySearch.org, is by creating a Genealogy Fan Chart. It makes it easier to view your history, and it can be fun to display in a family or living room.

4) Find your Ancestors

This is where FamilySearch.org, or other resources both on and offline, can come in handy. Finding your ancestors can be as simple as looking at past census records, marriage certificates, etc. Often times, you can even find

Often times, you can even find websites online that will allow you to search for If you want to search historical records that have been individually digitized and indexed you can use family search’s search features. Obviously, if a lot of work has already been done, it gets harder to find information, especially online, but there are so many resources available.

 

One of my favorite shows is “Who Do You Think You Are” which can be viewed on TLC online here. Geneaologists visit with famous people and help them discover their family history. It is extremely interesting, often touching, and really shows how interesting family history can be.

5) DNA Testing

One of the most exciting parts of current family history is DNA Testing – there are several companies that offer it, and it can really delve deep into the mysteries of your family. We know quite a few people who have done this, and they have found it to be eye-opening and fascinating.

You can connect with relatives you didn’t know exist and find out your true ancestry.

There are three main companies that offer it:

They vary in cost, depending on what you want, and they often have sales. For instance, we recently got the Ancestry.com for $69 on sale. From what we’ve heard, Ancestry.com has the best database for geneological purposes.

23andMe is $99 for the basic test, and $199 for the medical/geneitc and ancestry test. Katie is super interested in doing the $199 one.

Family Tree has a lot of different tests in varying prices starting at $49. Some say it’s a little more complicated to use, but it seems like they have some great offerings.

After a long day of family history the other day that I couldn’t stop myself from doing I came up with this list of royalty that I am related to. It is interesting and not always inspiring. You know royalty, they were always killing each other or oppressing someone. Some of the nicknames are kind of strange:

Royalty

France – more or less

Louis VIII, Philip II, Louis VII, Louis VI, Philippe I, Henri I Capet, Robert II Capet, Pepin Pippin III “le Bref” – the short, King of France, Charles “Martel” –the hammer of the Franks, “King” Clotaire I, The Old, of France, Clovis I the Great, Philippe IV, King Philip III, Louise IX, Louis II “le Begue” the Stammerer, Louis I

England

Henry II 1133-1189, wife Eleanor Princess Aquitaine Queen of England, Henry I, Eleonore Berenger Countess of Provence – Queen of England, Sir Edmund III King of England Plantagenet, Edward II, King Edward I “longshanks”, Alfred the Great

Spain – or parts of it

Alfonso IX of Castile, Sunyer Suniaire C. Urgel King of Barcelona, James I King of Aragon, Thibaut  King of Navarre, Urraca Alfonsez Queen and Castile and Leon

Russia

Yaroslav I (The Wise) Duke of Kiev, Vladimir The Great Grand Duke of Kiev, syvatoslav, Igor, Ryurik,

Sweden

Ingrid Olafsdotter Princess of Sweden, Olaf “skotkonung” III Eriksson

Holy Roman Empire

Emperor Charles II “The Bald”, Emperor Louis I “The Pious”, Charlemagne, Empress of the West Hildegarde de Savoy

Ancient Franks

Dagobert King of Sallic Franks

Not sure if this refers to the famous Troy. Godwulf is quite the name though.

Godwulf king of troy

Try out some family history. You may be surprised by how much you enjoy it and what you learn.

Understanding your past can really give you a lot insight to yourself and your family’s past. It doesn’t take a lot to get started, and it is something that can really help you appreciate where you came from.

Even if you don’t have the time to research your family tree, by keeping a journal (or blog), you are helping future generations have an easier time when they want to research your life someday. There are many resources out there, and these are just a few.

Many are online, many in libraries, and even more resources just a phone call away. Have fun, and feel free to ask questions if you have any.

5 Simples steps for starting your family history - doing your Geneology research can really open up the doors of your ancestry. Here are a few tools for helping you get your family trees ready to go!

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