How do I start? :: Genealogy
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How do I start?

Question by Annunciationist

I don't know how to start a genealogy search. I am one of 8 children of the parents of George D. Kelly and Alice (O'Shea)Kelly. I do have information on my dad's mom (where she came from in England [we have her passport]and some information on her spouse: Daniel Kelly (of Ireland). My dad was actually born in England but immigrated to the U.S. as an infant. I am able to get information on relatives back to my dad's great uncle I believe. How do I determine if they had children, etc, etc. Any help would be greatly appreciated. My dad and mom are still both alive.

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by Annunciationist Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2012-08-06 17:50:58

Annunciationist has been a Family Tree Circles member since Aug 2012.

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by dmck on 2012-08-07 08:24:59


I'm not an expert by any means, but I can tell you about some of the things that I have done and some things I WISH I had done.

Start with your parents. Talk to each of them about themselves and their families. Get as much detail as you can (where they lived, dates and places of special events). Video or record them talking if you can and take as many notes as you can. At the top of the page where you're recording, write the date and who you're getting the information from. Ask them about their memories of where they lived, their grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. Use photograph albums and home movies to help you and them remember as many of the details as you can. Do they remember occupations of their parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles or anything about where those people lived? They may not remember birthdates, marriage dates, or death dates of relatives, but guide them to get a rough idea if you can, e.g. "Do you remember about how old you were when..." or "Where were you living when..." or "Was _____ born before or after ____?"

Meet with cousins, aunts, and uncles if you can, and do the same thing. If you can't meet with them, can you phone them, email them, or snail-mail them? Start with the people who are the oldest, as they may be able to give them more leads into the past. Every time you get information, write down where you find it.

Find a "family group sheet" (a kind of record form) somewhere on the internet (sorry, someone, I'm sure, can give you a link) and fill it out for as many people as you can. EVERY time you get information, write down where you got it (can you tell that I didn't always do that?).

As you collect information, organize it with a family tree program or using a family tree website. I know there are a number of programs and websites available, but I haven't tried enough of them to recommend a specific one. Post the details you've found and those you're looking for on this and other websites to try to find information. Look for websites that focus on genealogy of the particular area your ancestors are from, for example, I was very lucky to find a website devoted to genealogy of Prince Edward Island, Canada, where both my dad's parents were born.

Try to always look at information and judge how reliable it is (that's why you need the source information). When you find someone with the name you're looking for, keep a record of it, but make sure that it makes sense, because at times it's very easy to go in a wrong direction.

There's a start. Best of luck. I haven't found any Kellys or O'Sheas yet in my family, but do have some ancestors from Ireland. Maybe one day we'll find that we're cousins...


by Scott_J on 2012-08-07 08:50:13

Dee, this is a great reply, and excellent advice. Those of us who have been doing this a while take it for granted. But for the countless new people to the "sport", this is gold.

If you'd copy and paste that into a Journal as an article here on FTC, I'd love to feature it in an upcoming FamilyTreeCircles newsletter. Let me know if you do.

by dmck on 2012-08-07 09:59:38

Thanks Scott. I'll do that. If someone can post a link to a blank family group sheet, I'd like to include that. That would help to make it more helpful and complete.

by ngairedith on 2012-08-07 10:23:02

you can download a Family Group Sheet from

there is a whole pile of FREE Genealogy forms and charts
on here

this looks like a good one Wakefield Family History Sharing, has:
* analysis sheet
* research checklist
* research journal for repository and records searched
* correspondence log, fill in when writing andwhen replies are received
* family group sheet
and more ...

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