Mariby mentioned in a comment that she would like to start working on her genealogy but didn’t know where to begin. She hoped that maybe I could give some instructions along the way. Even though I’ve been doing family research for over 40 years now, I don’t feel that I’m really an expert. I can, however, offer some suggestions on how to start and where to go for information.
First off, you need some kind of form to keep your information on or some kind of computer program where you can store your information. When I began, there were no computer programs for genealogy. So I had reams and reams of forms-family group sheets, ancestral charts, census forms etc etc etc. Then I finally got a computer program. The one I started with doesn’t exist anymore but I discovered Family Tree Maker and really like it. I do, however, prefer the 2006 program to the 2008, but if you are just starting out you might really like it. This site, About.com has reviews and such about lots of other programs.
That being said, I would suggest you head over to Ancesty.com. You don't have to be a member to look around. At the top of the page, click on Learning Center (or just click here!) They have lots of tutorials on how to get started. If you click on Getting Started it takes you to a page that does as it says-it gets you started. It also has downloads for those charts that I mentioned above. Really, this site can give you so much more that I can ever tell you here. I wish I had had this when I started out!!
There are other sites which can get you started also-- The National Archives, Genuki (a site featuring the UK and Ireland), Genealogy.com, Rootsweb, Genealogy Today, and on and on. I just google "genealogy getting started" and came up with more sites than I would ever care to visit. Genealogy 101 looks to be another good beginner site.
OK, once you have read everything there is to read on all of those sites, you will probably know more than I do about getting started. But, I would say after that, no matter what all of those sites tell you, start talking to your family members. Write down names (full names!), birth dates and places, marriage dates and places, death dates and places and any other dates which you might like to include (christenings, confirmations, lst communions, naturalizations, etc). If you downloaded and printed out the forms I mentioned above, you can put all this information on these forms. It will make life a lot simpler, believe me. So, now you have your siblings and parents down on a family group form. Then, I would make forms for any of your married siblings and their offspring. Again, get dates, places etc.
Now, on to your grandparents. And if your great grandparents are living--wow, are you in luck!! If any of the grandparents or great grandparents are living, run, don't walk to them and get all of the information they can possibly tell you. Take notes! Don't depend on remembering anything. Ask them about their siblings (dates, places, spouses, kids, etc). Then ask them to tell you everything they can about their parents and grandparents. The more you learn now, the easier it will be later. Write down any family history stories. Sometimes these are worth something and sometimes they aren't. Often, these are just stories that have been embellished over the years and now haven't a shred of truth to them. (Like my g.g.g.g.grandfather's sister who was supposed to be the mother of the great Indian Chief Tecumseh!) But, true or not, they are fun to hear.
If your grandparents aren't living, then ask your parents, aunts, uncles, friends of your grandparents etc to tell you everything they can. Again, write things down. Use those family group sheets.
And---always list sources--whether it be a person, a book, or an online site. I didn't do this for the longest time and I'm paying for it now.
Ok, that's enough for now. Go check out those sites. Then hop back here in a few days and I will give you some more ideas. Have fun. I LOVE doing family research. Genealogy really brings history alive and even if you have a few skeletons in the closet (and yes, I found a few), it makes it all the more interesting.