Southern California Genealogical Society

Getting Started #1: First Things First
By Beverly Truesdale

Welcome, to all you new beginners. You are embarking on a journey that will last a lifetime. As a volunteer and the teacher of the Beginner's Class here at SCGS, I get asked "How do I get started tracing my family tree?" In this new series, I hope to get you started on tracing your family history.

The first thing you need to do is write down all the information that you have on your family, starting with yourself. Then contact all living relatives and find out what they may have on the family. Ask about a Bible, obituaries, funeral cards, old letters, and any old pictures. Also, check to see if there are any birth or death certificates on the family.

All this information you will transfer onto a pedigree chart or ancestor chart and family group sheets. On a pedigree chart there will be room for recording either three or four generations.

On line 1, you put your own name, birthdate, place of birth, marriage date, and place of marriage.

On line 2, you will put your father's name and birth, marriage and death dates (if deceased).

On line 3, you will put your mother's name, birth date, etc.

On lines 4 and 5 you will put your father's parents and on lines 6 and 7, you will put your mother's parents.

On a pedigree chart, the men will always be the even numbers and the women will be the odd numbers. You should always use the woman's maiden name on the chart.

On a family group sheet, you will list a set of parents and all their children and their information. On a family group sheet, you have room to list occupations, church affiliation, military records, and other spouses. You will need a family group sheet for each family unit -- your parents, your grandparents, and so on. You will also need a family group sheet for any married siblings.

It is always best to start with yourself and work backward toward earlier generations. Try not to jump around in your search. Work on one family at a time.

The SCGS Library has packets of pedigree and family group sheet forms available for a minimum cost.

The gold rule of genealogy is: Work from what you know to what you don't know.

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Los Angeles Area Resources

The Final Goodbye - Obituary Search Tips

Beginning Genealogy -Part 1
Beginning Genealogy -Part 2

Getting Started #1: First Things First

Getting Started #2: Organization

Getting Started #3: Vital Records Are Vital

Getting Started #4: Census Records

Getting Started #5: Correspondence

Getting Started: Hispanic Research

Point of View: Easy Does It-But Do It!

Point of View: It's Never Too Late for a Timeline

Point of View: The Hurrieder I Go

Point of View: State Censuses Fill the Gaps

Put It In Writing: Holiday Memories

Refresher Course: Archivists and Genealogists    

DNA Testing - Researching Outside the BOX!

Civilian Conservation Corps Records

Techniques and Tips - The Search for Free African American Ancestors

Techniques and Tips: African American Research Resources

Techniques and Tips: In Praise of Probate

Researching Dutch Ancestors

Back to Basics: Libraries: Pure Gold!

Back to Basics: Join the PERSI Generation

Back to Basics: Home and Family--That's Where It Starts

Back to Basics: Look for Other American Censuses

Back to Basics: Naturalization Research Can Pay

Back to Basics: There's a Clue Somewhere (Immigration)

Back to Basics: WPA Historical Records Survey

Back to Basics: Criminal Records

Back to Basics: Using a Research Log

Back to Basics: What's on Your Desk?

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A Musical Legacy

Telling Your Story with Photos

Finding Anne-Marie

Back to Basics: City Directories

Local Resources - LA as Subject

Problem Solvers: Using newspapers effectively as a source for passenger arrival and departure lists

Norwegian Research

Federal Passport Applications

Taking a Second Look

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