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There is no single way to research and document your family tree. But I think there is a basic workflow that almost everyone follows at some point in their family tree research. I want to present that workflow to give you a sense of an approach you might take and there is a way to present how I have organized my course. First up, gather basic information about you and your closest relatives. Names, dates, and places, births, marriages, and deaths. Input that information into Family Tree Maker or some other program and make a simple family tree printout.
You will begin to get a sense for where you need to focus your efforts. Go on a treasure hunt. Scour your attic, your basement, closets, shoeboxes, filing cabinets for documents, photos and artifacts. Get photos and documents into your computer. You typically need a scanner to do that. Conduct person-to-person research. Talk to relatives who are older than you. Use Family Tree Maker software to take your first foray into Internet research. One of Family Tree Maker's key features is that if you're a subscriber to Ancestry.com, Family Tree Maker will automatically search Ancestry.com's database.
You'll be amazed at how it accurately tracks down documents relating to specific family members. Use Family Tree Maker's advanced features such as linking persons and events to places, sources, and media. Visit ancestral locales in the US or other counties. Just being there opens up all sorts of possibilities. Delve deeper into Internet research. You can do that in Ancestry.com or many other online sites. The last step in this workflow: share your Family Tree data, documents, images and stories.
You can do that with printed books, websites, and via email. Family tree research can take you in many directions, but ultimately it brings you back to your main goal: sharing what you have learned.
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