This is FamilySearch made easy - genealogy for beginners! Let's work together to get you started in small steps. You CAN do genealogy, and you CAN experience the joy of "meeting" your ancestors!
FamilySearch is a free family tree management website. Here, you can:
On this great website, you're never done meeting new family - it's the ultimate place to do genealogy and family history research.
This next section will help you get your FamilySearch account set up. Scroll to the bottom to learn more about how to use it!
So, you've decided to take the plunge and start getting to know your ancestors. Congratulations on taking your first step toward becoming a bona fide genealogist!
Let's dive in.
Click on the icon to open FamilySearch in your browser.
Click on the 'Free Account' button. Next, you'll get a screen that looks like this:
Fill out your personal information. Be sure to write down your username and password! If you lose this information, the volunteers at the LDS Family History Center in your area will not be able to help you. You'll have to request that FamilySearch send your username and a new password to the email address associated with your account.
Because my account is already set up, I can't show you the next screen, but you will be prompted to add some more information, such as a recovery email and phone. If during that process you answer that you are LDS, you will be prompted to enter your Membership Record Number. You'll want to do that right away, as this will be very helpful for connecting to your Ancestry account.
Once that's done you should get a gray family tree screen with your name in a box. Next to the box, you'll see links to 'Add Mother' and 'Add Father'. If you have recently joined the LDS church, you will see information that was added from your baptism paperwork. You'll want to enter as much as you can. A good goal to start with, if possible, is adding the first four generations of your family tree.
That will mean talking to your living relatives to learn about them and about deceased relatives they knew. To the extent possible, you'll need to gather dates and places of birth, marriage and death. You want to connect to someone who has passed on so you can begin research. If you happen to add someone who has passed on that someone else has already added, you'll want to check to see if there are possible duplicates. We'll look at how to deal with this a little bit later.
Once you have some living relatives entered, as well as some people who have passed on, the real journey begins. At that point you are in a position to begin doing research, seeing first-hand hard proof that your ancestors really did live and laugh and love and walk this earth.
If you and your family are LDS and have been for a generation or more, chances are, you may log in only to find a large family tree already built. You'll want to explore the tree extensively, double checking documentation and sources, looking for any place where a spouse is missing, or someone's parents or a child haven't been found yet. These can turn out to present a lifetime of research, filling in missing sources and adding whole new branches to your family tree.
Now that you have some deceased ancestors to start with, you're ready to experience genealogy!
Next, you'll want to learn how to do a family history search and start adding ancestors to your tree. Learn how to make the most of the "hints" and search function in FamilySearch!
Given the extreme likelihood that you have common ancestors with other users, you'll inevitably need to know how to fix possible duplicates.
Want an easy way to get your feet wet in genealogy research? Try your hand at FamilySearch indexing!
If you would like an LDS faith-based lesson on how to use FamilySearch and Ancestry together, including how to reserve and manage temple ordinance work, see the 'Quick Start Tutorials' section of my ward family history website.
5-minute genealogy video: How to Use FamilySearch Catalog
* I'll go to other areas as well. I charge $0.95/mile (round trip) plus $15 per hour onsite for document pickup, copies, and taking pictures.