How do I Trace my Family History Online?

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  • Written By: Tessa Jones
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 25 January 2020
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Tracing your family history has become much easier with technological advancements. What used to require hours of pouring over books in libraries can now be accomplished in a fraction of the time without leaving the comfort of your home. A computer, an Internet connection and a passion for genealogy is all you need to start tracing your family history online. Generally, you start with yourself, gathering as much information as possible about your immediate family and grandparents. Keep track of information such as birth and death records, church affiliations, and any other organization memberships, as they may be helpful in finding more information down the road. There also are organizations that provide genealogy research assistance; these usually can be found with an Internet search.

To start tracing your family history online, start with yourself then work backward, gathering as much information as possible about your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on. Include dates and places of births, marriages, deaths, and any other information you come across, such as church affiliation or organizations to which your relatives may have belonged. Don’t forget siblings of relatives; not only will they round out your tree, they can also be valuable sources of information.


If you get stuck and do not have information on a particular relative, there are various online resources you can use, such as census, immigration, birth, death, marriage and divorce records. Some libraries have genealogy programs and contract with research-oriented organizations to make archives of sources such as newspapers, periodicals, dissertations, and many types of aggregated databases available online.

There are also online family trees. Once you start tracing your family history online, you may find someone else has done a fair amount of the research already—try searching other family trees to see if their information matches yours. Genealogy forums are a good source for this. These resources may be free and simply require registration, or they may require a monthly subscription.

Now that you’ve researched your family history online, the next step is to display your findings on an organizational chart. There are many options, from do-it-yourself line and box drawings to elaborately detailed computer-generated templates, some free of charge, others for a small fee. Various computer software packages are also available that can record, display and report in a variety of styles and formats; many of these packages have more advanced features that allow for pictures and sound files as well. For those who want to go all out, commercial genealogical printers can generate large-format wall charts of varying sizes and designs.



Discuss this Article

Post 3

I've tried to do a little bit of family tree research online. The problem I keep running across is that I will find a website that says they will help me find information, but when I enter what I know about my family, the search results are mostly hidden from view unless a fee is paid to see them.

I really want to learn more about the history of my family, but I just can't afford to spend a bunch of money on it.

Post 2

I've come across a few different websites that will help you trace your family history for free. The thing that is nice about these, is that you have a place online that you can use to keep the information you have gathered in a neat and organized fashion.

Post 1

I can't wait to get started with my family tree! I'm so happy that the internet is available to use for this!

Can you imagine what it must have been like before you could research your ancestors online? You would have had to make a lot of phone calls, and probably actually travel to areas that your ancestors lived in! It would have been extremely costly and time consuming!

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