Family history-where to start?


  • Do you have questions about family history and where to start?
  • Have you ever wondered about your great grandparents or their great grandparents?
  • Where were they and what were they doing when they were your age or at a certain time in history?
  • What did they look like? Do you look like them?
  • Who did they fall in love with? What was their courtship like? Did their parents approve? How old were they when they got married?
  • How many kids did they have?
  • What did they do without modern medication, or doctor’s or hospitals?
  • How did they feed and clothe them?
  • Where did they get the necessities of life?
  • How did they get an education?
  • Do you think they ever looked at the stars and made a wish? Did they see the beauty of a rainbow, or enjoy the fragrance of a rose?
  • Maybe they had everything they own destroyed and were forced from their homes?
  • Did they lose someone they love?
  • Did their faith sustain them?
  • How did they survive and overcome their trials? How did they deal with grief?
  • Did they live in fear?
  • What can you learn from them? What would they want you to know?
  • Do they need their stories written? Do you need to feel connected to them?


I have always been fascinated with the stories I have heard about my ancestors. I have also felt the “need” to learn more about them and to write their stories. My heritage and the legacy left behind by my ancestors is incredible and I am so grateful for my ancestors and all that they went through and the example that their lives are to me.


If you are interested in learning about your ancestors and the heritage you come from, but don’t know what to do or where to start. I am going to give you some suggestions, tips, and ideas.

I discovered an amazing website. This website is full of information to help you navigate the journey to uncover the past and learn all you can about your ancestors. It is helpful for the beginner as well as those who have already begun the journey. I suggest starting there. This website also gives detailed instructions on using some of the genealogy programs available.

The following explains their mission statement and some of their features:

Mission Statement: “Our mission is to greatly increase the number of people actively involved in family history worldwide, and to make everyone’s family history journey easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable.”

Here are some of the unique features you’ll find on the site:

  • Goals for learning, supported by flexible Choices
  • Step-by-step instructions to make learning easier
  • Links to videos and articles from FamilySearch, Ancestry, and more
  • QUIKLinks that take you to record searches from multiple sources, with a single click
  • Project Tracker sheets and training materials for self-study or group instruction
  • Activities for families, individuals, youth, and kids
  • Family history resources for faiths, including members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Catholics, Protestants, and those of Jewish heritage



Gather names and dates

  • Start with yourself. Write down your full name, birthday, important dates and places.
  • Move on to your spouse. What is his/her full name, birthday, parents’ names, important dates, and places?
  • Then move on to your children. What are their full names, birthdates, place of birth, and any other important dates and places?
  • Then write down your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. When and where were they born? Gather names and dates and places of them and their families.
  • When you have gathered all the information for 5 generations, then continue going beyond those 5 generations.

Don’t forget to write your own story

  • Keep a journal
  • Write your life story
  • Take photos and organize them with names, dates, and places.


  • Have you looked through photos that your grandparents have and wished they had names and dates on them. Or have you wished the photos had a little story attached to them that told what was going on at the time and why the photo was taken? You can make sure you do that with your own photos. You can also try to find the information to add to the photos your parents or grandparents have.
  • Take lots and lots of photos and have someone take your photo. Many times the person taking the photos is not actually in any of the photos.
  • Get family photos. I take a lot of pictures, but we don’t have many family photos. I have 6 step-children and 3 of my own children. So my husband has 9 children, but we don’t have a photo of all 9 of those kids in the same photo. There are 27 years between the oldest and the youngest, and when the oldest was 31 she passed away. Now it is too late to have a family photo with all 9 of the kids with my husband and I. So please take family photos.
  • When you write family history stories or summarize what you have read, please put your name on it and your relationship with the person you are writing about. A lot of times I will read a history where it will say “grandma did this. . .” but I don’t know who that grandma is referred to and I don’t know who is writing the story. It would also help if full names were used. Even if you put the name in parenthesis after “grandma”, it would be helpful.

Start a project

Decide what you want to accomplish and start it.

  • Do you want to learn about a particular ancestor or time period,?
  • What about doing research?
  • Do you want to organize information already gathered?
  • Or do you want to correct mistakes in records?
  • Do you want to summarize or write a history about a particular ancestor or group of ancestors?


This is a quote that I read at the back of my son’s History book. He attends Utah Virtual Academy which uses the K12 curriculum. I thought this quote was a perfect explanation of the story of our ancestors.

“History is our story–the human story. It is the story of kings and peasants, of warriors and artists, of catastrophes and triumphs, of folly and wisdom, of continuity and change. Our human story goes back many, many years, to a time when hunter-gatherers wandered at the edge of ice sheets. Later, they became farmers, and then city builders. They created extraordinary works of art and architecture. They explored far-off lands and built vast empires. As civilizations met, they sometimes clashed and often exchanged goods, beliefs, and ideas. The story of the past helps explain our present–the human story of the twenty-first century, the story you are living now. History, our human story, is your story.

World History: Our Human Story, Ed. Patricia O’Connell Pearson and John Holdren (K12 Inc., 2011)

“This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link.”

You can buy the book at Amazon.

World History, Our Human Story


For a long time, I have wanted to write summaries about the lives of my ancestors.  I am amazed at the faith and courage and strength of the women in my family and I wanted to tell their stories.  Recently I read some fictional books from one of my favorite authors named, Shanna Hatfield, called Women of Tenacity.  I didn’t know what the word “tenacity” meant and so I looked it up in the Webster’s dictionary and when I read the definition and the synonyms, I realized that tenacity is the perfect word to describe my grandmothers and great grandmothers through the generations. It gave the definition as:  “ The quality or state of being persistent.” Some of the synonyms of tenacity are: “persistence, determination, the strength of purpose, tirelessness, firmness, patience, purposefulness, staying power, endurance, and stamina,

     It further describes Tenacity as:

“Mental or moral strength to resist opposition, danger, or hardship. 

            The women in my family definitely had mental and moral strength, courage, patience, stamina, determination, and stubbornness through unimaginable trials and struggles, and persevered with faith to endure to the end.

            Even though my journey and path with Family History is to write about my strong ancestry women, I look around at their descendants; my mother, my sister, my aunts, and my cousins, and I see they have mental and moral strength, courage, patience, stamina, determination, and stubbornness through unimaginable trials. They are definitely Tenacious Women.

            This is an unfinished and ongoing HUMAN STORY of the past and how it connects “US” to “THEM”.

Women of Tenacity book by Shanna Hatfield


Comment and Suggest

Please click on the submit button at the top of my Blog and fill out the google form to give me any tips or suggestions you might have in doing Family History. Also please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about Family History.

The following are some suggestions I have received:

What is your best tip, idea, or suggestion for compiling Family History or doing research?

  • From Brenda: Practice makes perfect.
  • Ask someone to help you. Learn the program you are searching on.
  • Begin today to do a little at a time.
  • From Jennifer: Always double check your temple cards. before going to the temple and after. I knew a lady who went to the temple for someone and then went home and realized the temple did not stamp it so she had to do that person over again. If the temple stamped your card but it is not on the computer as being done. you can make a copy of your card and send it to salt lake for them to fix it or you can scan it.


  1. Actually if your card is stamped and didn’t record you can just take back to the temple where you did the ordinance and they can fix it.

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