You want to start your family history but have no idea where to even begin. Welcome! Let's learn together! The very first thing you need to do is to make sure you have an LDS Account. You will need your membership number for this. If you have your temple recommend, it is on there. If not, just ask the Ward Clerk for it on Sunday- he can print it off for you. If you aren't a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, don't worry, you can still join. Just click the "Join for Free" button. Once you have an account, sign in at Family Search. (familysearch.org).
When you first log in, you will need to start building your family tree. This can be a really easy process or more time consuming depending on how much information is already available. It was super easy for me since I have some great relatives that have already connected all my dots for me. All I needed to do was enter my parents names and one grandparent and the rest filled in by itself. Hopefully, you are that lucky. If not, start entering names until you get that lucky. You need to have some basic information for yourself, your parents, your spouse's parents, and all your grandparents. If you don't have any of that information, we'll go over how to find out in a later post.
Once you have a Family Tree to look at, you can view it in several different ways.
Here is the traditional view- just like all those paper ones we've filled out over the years. You can see from mine above, that my husband hasn't connected his dots yet (I blocked out some of mine).
The portrait view is great because you can see if there are any pictures available. If there is a picture, there might be a memory to read too.
The Fan Chart makes it really easy to find gaps in your history. You can see one section that is missing from mine. These fan charts are also fun to print out and display in your house. The above fan chart is fan chart from my original fan chart. Click around and discover a few of your own.
The last option is Descendancy view. This comes in handy when you want to view an ancestor's children, not just the one that is directly related to you. In this view you can also easily see what else is available. Is there a question that needs an answer, temple ordinances that need to be, etc.
Once you have your family tree set up, play around with the different views and see if you can discover more about your family.
You can discover more by clicking on someone's name. In the details, you can see how much information is available. Are there stories you can read, pictures to look at?
See how far back you can go in your different lines. Which line needs the most work? Who needs their temple work completed? Do you have memories and photos that you could share?
The great part about having all these online resources is that you can keep all your original copies of photos and stories but still share with all your relatives. Simply scan in your photos and share them or type up the memories.
This is just one small step to get you started in your family history. Examine what you have, see what you still need to work on. Gather the information and make some goals.
Each part of this series will show you one small way you can move forward in your family history. When taken in all at once, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. My goal is to get us all excited and to actually accomplish something- hopefully ending in a trip to the temple for one of your ancestors.
Your Turn- What are your goals for your family history?