Start Here - Links
Please note that the links in this section are specific to the Get Ready topic.
TIP: If you are searching for a word or phrase in a document or on a web page, hold down the Control (ctrl) key and f key at the same time. A box will pop-up to enter the word or phrase. The shortcut on Apple computers is Command f key at the same time.
This page has a wealth of resources to assist with your education. There are articles about home sources for information about your ancestors and basics for starting out with family history. Check out Drew Smith’s book in the bookshelf area for organizing your genealogy.
- Websites and Articles of Interest
- The Family History Guide - This is an amazing learning website which includes information on getting started and other learning tools. If you click on the Intro tab, then click on 15 minutes, there is a great article titled, “15 Minutes a Day, with the Family History Guide. "You can make meaningful and enjoyable progress learning about family history in as little as 15 minutes a day."
- Cyndi's List Beginners Guides - There are hints and tips to get you started such as links to beginner's guides, articles and videos.
- FamilySearch.org New to Genealogy - "New to family history and ancestry research? If you are a beginner or a seasoned genealogist, take care of the time sensitive critical steps immediately and then you can take your time to learn how to set attainable goals as your genealogy experience grows."
- Your DNA Guide - Diahan Southard's DNA site was named "one of Family Tree Magazine's Best Genealogy Websites for Beginners!". There is clear, great information on this site. Diahan has a newsletter and if you subscribe, she frequently does webinars for subscribers.
- Fashion History Timeline - This website is from the Fashion Institute of Technology's History of Art Department in New York City. Select a time period ranging from the ancient world to the 21st century. There is an overview and pictures of women's, men's and children's fashions to help you date your family photos.
- University of Vermont Dating Photos - "Clothing can be an excellent dating tool for historic images. Women of means have always sported the latest fashion trends, while working class women or women in remote rural areas have typically been behind in the latest trends." This is a wonderful website to help with dating pictures using clothing and hair styles from the 1850s to the 1950s.
- Articles of Interest:
- Findmypast Tips to Get Started - 10 tips to start your family history journey. "Your immediate family often holds the key to starting your family history research. Record the memories of your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and cousins as you start exploring your family tree online.
- Genealogy.com First Steps to Family History - "If you are new to the hobby, it may seem a bit overwhelming at first, with all of the traditional and online resources available. So let's step back a bit from the microfilms and computer programs and start with the basics."
- Genealogy Bank Home Sources - The list of home sources for information includes things you may not have considered. Some of the suggestion include looking for insurance papers and jewelry from a, "school, fraternal or membership organization". Perhaps there is your grandfather's 25 years of service of watch that was engraved.
- NationalArchives.gov First Steps to Family History - There is a PowerPoint tutitorial which, "provides an excellent introduction to most popular genealogy records at NARA." There are also links to a series of YouTube videos.
- University of Delaware Genealogy: Beginners & Basics - Included is some basic information to get started. The getting organized section is particularly helpful with links to other articles.
- FamilySearch Wiki Creating Oral Histories - "Family history interviews are a good way to capture memories before they are lost. They help you verify and preserve names and dates—the sort of information you would typically record on a family group sheet or pedigree chart. These interviews are also one of the best ways to preserve a wealth of stories, testimonies, thoughts, and feelings."
- FamilyTree Magazine Interviewing Questions for Family History - "Want to hear your relatives’ stories, but not sure where to start? The best tactics for family history interviews are to ask open-ended questions (rather than ones with yes or no answers), and to focus on people’s memories and experiences."
- FamilySearch.org Tips for Speaking with Your Family - This article includes suggestions for preparing for an interview and some ideas for information questions to ask.
- Blogs and Podcasts
- Irish Genealogical Society International Blog - One of the best Irish genealogy blogs around is right here on this site! Note it is searchable.
- Findmypast Blog - This blog is free and has great articles. For example, there is one on Google search techniques for family history research.
- Are You My Cousin Blog - Lisa Lisson's blog covers a wide range of topics which include resources you may have missed in archives, researching female ancestors and genealogy tools.
- FamilySearch Blog - There is a wealth of information that you can search by topic. Some of the categories are genealogy records, research tips, apps and history.
- Amy Johnson Crow Genealogy Made Easy - The site has links to her podcast and resources on her blog posts. Some of the blog categories include information about preservation, methods and resources.
- Maureen Taylor The Photo Detective Blog - If you want to learn how to solve a mystery of identifying who is in a photograph, this is the place to learn.
- LegacyTree Genealogists Blog - Scroll down the page and on the right is a category section which includes topics such as: archives and repositories, census, records, and deeds.
- Specific Blog Posts of Interest:
- FamilySearch Blog Beginning Genealogy - The article is titled How to Get Started the Right Way. "You don’t need a degree in history or an unlimited travel budget. What you need is curiosity and the willingness to learn (about researching and about what you discover). Here’s how to get started."
- Are You My Cousin? Blog How to Organize Bookmarks - While the examples are in the browser Chrome, the concept is the same if you use a different browser such as Firefox or Microsoft Edge.
- LegacyTree Genealogist Pitfall for Beginners - This is helpful if you are just starting family history. As the article states, one of the most common mistakes is "collecting ancestors".
- The Ancestor Hunt Blog Advice for New Genealogy Researchers - This is a PDF quick sheet that you can download for free. Tips include analyzing every record or piece of evidence and advise that you do not just focus on dates.
- GenealogyBank Home Sources - "When we begin our genealogy research journey we are instructed to start with information about ourselves and work backward. Starting with yourself is easy considering you are the expert of your life. Tracing the next generation or two may also be easier with the use of documents and photos found in your home."
- LegacyTree Genealogist Dating Photos Part 1 and LegacyTree Genealogist Dating Photos Part 2 - These two articles are very informative. "Photographs are one of the treasures of genealogy. There is something about being able to look an ancestor in the eye—we make a connection to the people we can identify by both name and face."
- Are You My Cousin? 5 Types of Old Photos - This article include great examples of photos and date ranges for the 5 types of old photos.
- Family Tree 22 Online Historical Photo Databases – Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective writes, “If you’re lucky, you know what your ancestors looked like from old pictures handed down in the family. But do you know what their house or neighborhood looked like? The businesses, churches and schools that formed the backdrop for their lives? The immigrant ships they sailed on? These images will turn your ancestors from words on a flat page to three-dimensional people with experiences of their own. But how to you get to there from here?”
- Genealogy in Action Digital File Organization for Genealogy – “Organizing all of our genealogy "stuff" can be quite the challenge. In fact, it's the #1 area that genealogists struggle with (according to my informal poll). I get it! I consider myself a highly organized person, but I struggled for years trying to figure out a system for organizing both paper and digital genealogy files.”
ThoughtCo Which Filing System is Best
– “Piles of copies of old records, printouts from genealogy websites and letters from fellow genealogy researchers are sitting in piles on the desk, in boxes, and even on the floor.” “…the solution is as simple as finding an organizational system that suits your needs and research habits and then making it work.”
- The FamilyTree Genealogy Podcast - The list of past podcasts is extensive and are free. A few interesting topics are obituaries and where to find them, marriage records and free genealogy resources.
- GenealogyGems Podcast - Lisa Louise Cooke's free podcasts include the "best websites, best practices, and best resources available". She also has podcasts where a subscription is required.
- Amy Johnson Crow Genealogy Made Easy - Here is a quote from her home page: "Genealogy can give you a sense of place, a sense of connection. All of us have those connections, it's just about finding them."
- Maureen Taylor The Photo Detective Podcast - Topics range from how to date clothing to types of photography such as tintypes.
- Facebook Groups
- Facebook groups can be extremely helpful to join for resources and help from members. Consider joining one for the area where your ancestors immigrated to, such as town/city, county, and state.
- Here are some suggested Facebook groups to consider. We recommend you take a look at the "Genealogy on Facebook List" which in noted below.
- Genealogy: For Beginners and Helpers - This is a group that is "for beginner genealogists that don't know exactly where to start and where to go...it's for helping those who do not understand some of the genealogy sites..."
- The Genealogy Squad - Their mission states, "We focus on answering questions and solving problems while demonstrating best practices in all aspects of genealogical research."
- Genealogy! Just Ask! - "We teach the world genealogy" is their motto. This is a group willing to assist with answering questions and giving recommendations.
- Genealogy on Facebook List - Katherine Willson created this list of more than 16,700 genealogy Facebook groups and you can download the document. It was updated in January 2021 for genealogy and history Facebook groups/pages (in English). The list includes groups by country, county, state, county, and topic to name a few categories.
- Cyndi's List of Facebook Groups - Cyindi Ingle of Cyndi's List is migrating the Genealogy on Facebook List and the list is currently under construction.
- IGSI Past Webinars - IGSI members have exclusive access to the past recorded webinars and handouts. Some of the webinars are free and others are for a fee.
- YouTube Channels:
- Videos of Interest:
- If you live in or are visiting the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota, please visit our IGSI collection housed in the Minnesota Genealogy Center just across the river from the MSP airport. The Hoffman Research Library has a great catalog that will help you find titles for the topic or area you are researching.
- If you are looking to build your genealogy bookshelf, you might consider used books in good condition from used book dealers.
- Not ready to purchase just yet? Check WorldCat to find the book you want in a nearby library. Your local library may be able to arrange an inter-library loan of the book you would like to borrow. See the Allen County Library video in the Videos of Interest section above.
- Christmas, Henrietta M. and Rhetts, Paul F. The Basic Genealogy Checklist: 101 Tips & Tactics to Find Your Family History. Rio Grande Books, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 2017.
- Smith, Drew. Organize Your Genealogy: Strategies and Solutions for Every Researcher. Family Tree Books, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2016.
- Mills, Elizabeth Shown. History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd Edition Revised. Genealogical Publishing Company. Baltimore, Maryland, 2017. This is an 892 page book that is available in many libraries, including the Hoffman Research Library in Mendota Heights, MN.
- Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Quicksheet: Your Stripped-Bare Guide to Citing Sources. Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland, 2017. A guide to help you cite sources.
- Taylor, Maureen. Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries. Family Tree Books, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2013.
- Taylor, Evelyn S. Conducting Oral Histories: A Student's Guide to a Successful Interviewing Experience. Self-published, 2011.