Genealogy and Family History

Trent Smith Portrait

My love for genealogy and family history research began when I unexpectedly "met" my long-deceased great-great-great Grandpa Rudy. 

Story about Cousin Eddie KIA

My sister-in-law had been doing some research on my paternal grandparents' side of the family, and she brought pictures and stories to tell at a family gathering. As she spoke and showed us Grandpa Rudy's blacksmith shop in eastern Pennsylvania, I felt as though Grandpa Rudy was standing right behind me, his hand on my back, wanting more than anything to show me around the shop himself. In that moment, Grandpa Rudy felt very real to me. I realized there were hordes of very real people who were connected to me--people who wanted as much as Grandpa Rudy did to tell me their story. 

I knew that if I were ever going to "hear" those stories, I would have to learn to find them myself. 

    What are Genealogy and Family History?

Wikipedia or Google will tell you these two things are one and the same. But in my own mind, these are two different sides of the same coin.

“Genealogy” is about using records and documents to build a pedigree or family tree.

“Family history” is gathering old letters, stories, mementos, and heirlooms – an attempt to get to know the people who came before you in your family.

To me, genealogy is about records; family history is about people.

Thinking About Getting Started?

Genealogy and Family History - My son and I getting some work done

When I was new at this, all I wanted was for somebody to spend the time and hold my hand for the first several steps until I started to get it.

Back then, we didn't have FamilySearch and Ancestry. Back then all searching was done manually--hours and hours of looking through microfilm and calling courthouses!

At that time, I felt like all of this was foreign territory. I felt the pull of it drawing me in, but I had no confidence that I could learn to do it. It didn’t help that, whenever I’d cross paths with a genealogy expert and ask how to start, they’d flood me with suggestions that went a mile over my head.

I promise not to do that to you.

Story about great Uncle Mervin & Aunt Hallie

Here on my site, computer-shy beginners will find help to get FamilySearch and Ancestry accounts set up. Are you uncomfortable using a computer? Not to worry! Most of the people who come to me for help feel the same way.

All the big websites put up a few short instructions with the expectation that you're computer savvy and comfortable climbing the learning curve on your own. Here on my site, I will guide you step-by-step through some case-specific examples to help you get familiar with genealogy and family history research techniques. No flood of suggestions here – just a click-by-click guide to follow. If you’ll do the steps I ask you to do in these guides on your own pedigree, the result will be adding someone to your family tree who you always wanted to know more about.

You can’t possibly get lost!

Not only that, but you're sure to experience what everyone else I've taught has: you'll be surprised how straightforward it is once you've experienced your first success. 

Please don’t be intimidated any longer by what you don’t know. If you have a desire to know who you are, to have a deeper connection to your roots, genealogy is definitely for you!

So jump in with both feet, and begin to experience genealogy and family history research - the joy of rubbing shoulders with your ancestors!

Getting Going Again?

genealogy family history word cloud

Check out these genealogy stories and experiences contributed by a community of both hobby and professional genealogists! 

Need Help?

If you need help, or you need genealogy resources, look no farther. Here on this page you will find:

    Links to Lots of Resources
Online videos and tutorials for learning to speak, write, and type in your ancestors' language Indiana Genealogy - The Indiana Room at the Floyd County Library How to do internet research - the search engines will give you a lot better results if you know how to ask! Latter-Day Saint genealogy resources - Anyone can try FamilySearch - it's free!

Coming soon:

Genealogy Software
Genealogy Books

Why I Built This Website

I started this website to provide you with a resource I wish had been available when I was in your position. The idea here is to equip beginners with tools, resources, and encouragement to enrich and advance this labor of love for our ancestors. I would love nothing more than to see you get as excited about genealogy and family history as I am! And I want to make sure that when that happens, you'll be able to find something on my website that will help you.

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