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I'm all about nerdy things. Books, writing, video games and science fiction. I am also a professional ninja. My favorite food is hummus.

Now that I am getting older, I am becoming more sentimental, and I decided I wanted to put together my family . It was something I had always wanted to do, and I thought I would finally buckle down and take the trip.

The website Family Search is free to access, and had some amazing resources. I had a wonderful, challenging time creating my genealogy. It was challenging, required a lot of research, but was very rewarding. Here are some of my tips about how to start your tree, and make it grow!

It's Like Being A Detective

This type of research is hard, and unusual. In today’s information age, all data is directly imputed into computer databases. However, before computers, all documentation was handwritten. When these older documents were made digital, and imputed into archives, there may have been transcription errors from handwriting being misread. (For example, Mistaking the name “Sheri” for “Shen” if the cursive “I” was not dotted.) While this doesn't seem like a big deal, searching for your ancestors in archives and old records with a misspelled name, such as “Janie Smith” instead of “Jamie Smith” could bring up a whole different set of results, and throw off the whole trail. You have to continually be checking and comparing documents, and sometimes still the trail will run cold.

Ask The Ones Who Know

Who knows the most about your family’s history already then your family? Stop in and ask your parents, grandparents, look at photo albums, and see what you can find. This will be a big help on your journey into the past. You may even hear some great stories.

Utilize Your Resources

There are tons of resources available, with more and more old records being digitized daily. There are birth records, death records, marriage records, military service records, census records and more. The US census is taken every 10 years, and has been since 1790. Many of these more recent records are digitized and available to search, except the year 1890, all the census records from this year were destroyed in a fire. Census records show the people in the household, their ages at the time, and also their status (son, daughter, father) which can be very helpful if you have three generations of men all with the same name.

Don’t Give Up

Sometimes it feels like you are at the end of everything. The trail’s gone cold on all your leads, you have no idea what to do next. Sometimes it’s best to just take a break for a couple days, and think of some new ideas. Other times, you have to go about things different ways. Try different names, try looking for marriage dates, or searching by location. You may find people in unexpected locations, or with misspelled names!

Have Fun

This is your journey. You are learning about your past and where you came from! So take your time, and enjoy the experience.

Have you researched your family tree? What were some of your experiences?

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