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Researching your own heritage seems like a daunting task. I guarantee it is hard work, it is time-consuming, and you may uncover information you didn’t want to know, but it is extremely rewarding to discover “where you came from.”

As with any new hobby or activity, break it down into small segments. The most useful for genealogy is Who – What – When – Where – Why – How. Break each one down to begin your research:

Who are you looking for – start with parents and siblings, then move to grandparents and great-grandparents, then aunts and uncles, cousins, and so on. The number of people will grow very quickly, so take care with your recordkeeping and data recording.

What information do you need or want to collect about each person – demographic information is important initially. This includes birth, death, marriage information, and more to help you in the next step.

did each person live – birth, death, marriage, etc. This information puts the person in the proper context in history. If you don’t know when, it’s difficult to put them in a family group without a lot of questions.

did each person live – city or town, county, state or country for completeness; state or country as a minimum, although not always possible. Many times you will simply make an educated guess based on other members of the family or unverified information you find.

you are looking for someone – some people research their direct lines, from parent to parent, and ignore siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, and the like. This is not recommended but is still informative. Do you share DNA, are you searching for health information, are you trying to find a long-lost relation, etc.?

do you go about doing the research – this is actually the most important step in the process. If you take shortcuts in information collection and recording on the front end, you will regret it later in your research. It may be difficult to go back to a previous source, and it is very easy to lose the person’s position in the family structure.

There are any number of online websites and other resources that will guide you through each of the steps and provide all the forms you need to record your information on. You will quickly find you can’t always work through the steps in order but, instead, will collect information as you find it.

Mike has a website where he has archived a number of articles of interest, many written for the Clan Murray magazine, Aitionn. They include more in-depth information about the research processes outlined here. Go to: .

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