Trace My Family Tree

Daniel Webster said, "Those who do not look upon themselves as a link, connecting the past with the future, do not perform their duty to the world." Whether you've been working on your genealogy for a while, or whether you're just beginning, your question may be the same: how do I trace my family tree?

The simplest way to get started tracing your family tree is to take advantage of the free 7-day trial of Because of our patent-pending automatic matching process, we will automatically add ancestors to your tree if they are already in our system. With over 225 million submitted names already in our system, and thousands more being added every day, the chances of getting new names added to your tree just keeps getting better. But only our subscribers get the benefit of automatic matching, so sign up today to start tracing your family tree.

People differ in their approach to tracing their family tree, in everything from what records to search to how many generations to search for. Some search only for their sixteen great-great-grandparents. Some want to connect their family tree back to a famous ancestor.

As you get started on your family tree, we highly recommend that you fill it out as much as you possibly can. Enter the names of everyone you can remember. If you know dates and places for important events (such as birth, marriage, or death), enter those as well. The more information you can enter, the better your chances of connecting to an ancestor already in our single, unified global family tree.

As you progress in building your family tree, you'll discover that each relationship out to be 'proven' with supporting documentation. Birth, death, & marriage certificates are ideal 'pieces of evidence' to use to prove a relationship between two individuals. Beyond that, there are many other secondary records that can help establish a relationship, provide clues about a specific ancestor, and generally help you trace your family tree. As you expand your tree further back in time, you'll discover fewer and fewer records are available to you. Mostly because the records were destroyed, lost, or simply don't exist. Here are few good places to look for some of the records you may, at some point, be seeking.

The Domesday Book
As you get further and further back in time, there are fewer and fewer genealogical records to search. The eminent medieval English record is the Domesday Book. After invading England in 1066, William the Conqueror commissioned a cataster or survey in 1085 to assess land and holdings in England. Because the book also lists property owners, it is one of the first and only genealogical-type records available for England in the Middle Ages. The name for the Domesday Book comes from the Old English word dom, similar to doom, meaning accounting or reckoning. The original book is now kept at the National Archives at Kew.

Catholic Parish Records
Catholic parish records are also an invaluable resource that pre-date most other genealogical records. The Council of Trent of the 1500's decreed that all Catholic priests record all the sacraments of baptism, marriage, and last rites that they perform; for that reason, almost all parish records date back to the 1500s and some parishes began recording sacraments even earlier than that. If you have Catholic ancestry, the question, "How do I trace my family tree?" can be easily answered: with parish records.

U.S. Federal Census Records
"But how do I trace my family tree for more recent American ancestry?," you may ask. U.S. Federal Census records are some of the premiere American genealogical records. They can help you track where your ancestors were living at a given time and who the living family members were.

The records available are abundant, and the work is rewarding. Tracing your family tree is work well worth your time. Get started today with your free 7-day trial!

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