HOW DID I GET STARTED WITH GENEALOGY?

I started researching my family’s history when I was 11 years old.  Thanks to a family friend, who had researched his family back to the 1200s,  I was given the tools and knowledge needed to start my research.  At the time, it was quite an unusual hobby and one that required a lot of manual work and research, but with the advancement of technology, research has become much easier over the last few years.
 

WHAT'S THE GOAL OF 'ROOTS'?

Over the years, I have spent countless (tens of thousands...) hours researching my roots.  I began sharing my research years ago by making custom books for family members.  They always made great gifts and to this day, they sit on a lot of coffee tables for people within my family.  However, as technology has advanced, so has the way in which I share my research, thus my website.  My goal is to make the stories of my ancestors something that keeps the readers engaged while writing some of the more complicated stories in a way that makes them easily digestible. 

I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT MY FAMILY.  HOW CAN I GET STARTED?

Talk to your family.  If there's no one to talk to, I always suggest looking at newspapers first, since they really were the social media of their day.  You can start with a site like Newspapers.com and sign up for a free trial.  Search for people you know of and see what comes up - you may be very surprised! 
 

BUT MY FAMILY IS PRETTY BORING...

I guarantee you, they're not.  I always thought that my family was very "vanilla".  People were born and they died.  Pretty plain and simple... Until I started researching the extended family -- brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.  No family is immune to scandals, crimes, etc., so it'll only be a matter of time until you find something interesting.  The best place to find stories like this is in old newspapers.  I had a friend once say to me, "My family did nothing.  They all had 2 kids and they were as boring as you can get."  We then hopped online and within 10 minutes, we had found out that his great-grandfather only had two kids, but that's because his grandfather died... from suicide.  Never underestimate how "exciting" your family can be.  People have been the same forever, so the same things that are happening today, happened back then.  

WHAT IF I DON'T KNOW NAMES?

You'll get there.  Start with last names, or simply a place.  Eventually, you'll find something.  For years, I only knew my 3rd great-grandmother as "Mrs. A. Harris".  Eventually, I figured out that her name was Jennie, thanks, in part, to newspapers.  One good tip that I often share with fellow researchers, specifically looking for email ancestors, is search for them using their husbands name with "Mrs." as a prefix.  For example, if you know that a woman was married to James Smith, try searching for her in newspapers as "Mrs. James Smith."  More times than not, you'll find something that way.  

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