A great tool to begin your family history search with is a genealogy chart. By building a basic Pedigree Chart you will have the basic information you will need to begin your search. By building on the basic information you can add generations. Soon you will need one of the poster sized charts!
You can print a free Pedigree Chart or one of the many other charts from http://misbach.org/pdfcharts/ . They offer seven different charts that you may print for your own use. They even have a fan chart just for kids that allow them to enter information about their immediate family. Family Tree magazine has free downloadable forms also at www.familytreemagazine.com just click on the Research Toolkit to find the forms you may want to use.
Of course there are many resources that are available to help you in your genealogy. As I mentioned earlier there are quite a few software packages and online sites which have great tools. Just search for genealogy or family history and you will be shown many, many choices to choose from.
Family Tree Website
There are more and more sites for families to share information. Quite a few are free and offer quite a few features. You can build a family tree website quickly and invite family members to join you there. You may find or be contacted by someone who has also been researching members in your family.
Two free resources to build a family website are: www.TribalPages.com and www.bigtreeproject.com . For a secure and private family website you will need to pay a fee. Several services for building a private family website are: www.myfamily.comwww.myheritage.com or www.mygreatbigfamily.com.
You will need some basic tools to begin your search. The tools you choose will depend upon the type of research you choose. Of course you can do a lot of research online but eventually you will end up at a library, historical society or genealogical society. So my advice is to gather a few basic tools and designate an area for them. You will definitely need a large three ring binder with pockets and dividers. I suggest several tablets: one spiral bound notebook, one notepad and maybe even some index cards. I tend to need a tablet or notebook that will hold the notes I have taken together. A file box or case of some sort which can hold all of the research items is very helpful.
Loose leaf notebook/dividers/pockets
Index cards/file box
Many libraries and other research areas do not allow you to bring in notebooks, bags, or cases. You are limited to a notepad or notebook and a few pencils and pens. You will need money for making copies of documents. You can make notes to transfer to your home research records on the note paper. Do take your basic pedigree chart with you when you visit a library or other research area you will need the names, birth date, death date and any other information you have on your chart.
You will quickly discover that when you begin to build your family tree you will find many documents and records that need to be organized. I will write another article about organizing these records next.