Nothing gives a child a sense of his own history as much as a family tree. Having the generations in black and white allows him to connect names and faces of those past and present as it teaches how family relationships work. The biggest problem is, where do you start? A family tree search is not too complicated, and the best place to start is with yourself and your close family members.
Write down your name, birth date and place of birth; this will be the standard information you need for each person in your family tree search. You will do the same for your partner later for his side of the tree.
Add your parents and grandparents and their information. If you don’t know a date or place draw a blank; if you’re not sure about a date, put an estimate for the year with a question mark next to it.
Call any family members that you can locate. If your parents are living, you can “interview” them about their parents and grandparents; if your parents are deceased, check their birth, marriage and death certificates for information.
Inquire among cousins, aunts and uncles if they have any information to add. Ask if they have old birth, marriage or death certificates. Often people will save obituary notices and funeral cards, which carry a wealth of information. Family Bibles are often passed down from generation to generation and were a traditional place to record life events.
Search online for census data. US census information is released to the public 70 years after the census date; information for 1930 was released in 2000. If your grandparents were born before 1930, you can find them on the census for that year by the location in which their parents lived, starting at state level. A typical census record will show age, year of birth, marital status and occupation, as well as everyone living in the household at the time.
Contact the state and the county in which your ancestor lived. Some records such as birth and death are kept at the state level while others are maintained by each county; this varies by state and the range of dates you’re searching in. Each state maintains an online record of their counties. While some states and counties have online searches, you may have to call or write for the desired information and may need to pay a fee for copies of records.
Look online for genealogy websites. Many maintain forums and message boards where you can contact other persons researching the same names or someone who lives in the area you’re interested in who is willing to search local records.