The Beginner Genealogist

If you are just starting your research as resident family historian, you may have no idea where to start. There are so many services and websites available now that it can be overwhelming. Additionally, some websites work better for certain ethnicities than others. So keep in mind that I am writing this post from the perspective of a white person with Western European ancestors.

My favourite website to recommend is still industry giant ancestry.com or ancestry.ca. I think the website is laid out functionally and easy to learn, even though there are a lot of features. Additionally, you can pause or cancel your membership which eliminates your ability to research records but maintains all your research and tree entries to date so you won’t lose information. Of the three website I am going to recommend, this one is best at including documents from non European countries. Ancestry regularly has sales on memberships and is also connected to different money saving services like Rakuten, which helps reduce the cost of the membership.

FamilySearch is another great website for starting your family history. It is free to make an account and search most of the records provided. Many of the records are indexes so you won’t be able to see the original document, but the goal behind this website is to eventually catalogue every person who has ever lived in history. It also provides in-home activities and other resources for putting your research together into a family collection, or involving kids in the process.

The last website I recommend to beginner genealogists is FindMyPast. It caters to Americans researching their family’s arrival in North America, but will also contain documents for those searching early Canadian history as well.

Most websites will allow you to upload an existing gedcom file, which is a family tree file. This means that if you decide to switch websites or exhaust the resources in one, you can take your tree and upload it to another service. Just keep in mind that you can’t always transfer documents attached to people in your tree, but you can always transfer the tree itself.

Good luck in your research!

xx

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