Gathering information should be the first step. It's what you need in order to do anything.
Without information, you won't be able to really accomplish anything.
For some of you, gathering will be easy. For others, not so much. It's okay. These aren't timed steps. Just steps.
Here are some ways to gather information:
Obviously. If you are researching your family, talk to them. If you have any older living relatives, they will be the biggest fountain of knowledge. Take notes. What they say will escape your brain faster than seventh grade algebra. I thought for sure I would remember everyone, but that was a little much to expect of myself.
For example, I have a confusing home life. We live with my grandma. We being my nephew, brothers, niece, aunt, mom. I live here, so it's easy. If you don't, it makes no sense. I got to meet a couple of cousins this past fall. Grandma drew out a family tree for them. They still were confused. And we are alive. Imagine the difficulty of remembering names and dates for people who have passed. Not easy.
Take notes. Ask them to take notes for you. Record your conversations. Even the dullest pencil is better than the sharpest mind. Write that down so you don't forget.
This one might not work for everyone. Some of you might have books. Some of you might not. I am lucky enough to have books. Want to see?
These are just a few of the books I have. I have read one and a half of them. The pieces I have read have been amazing. My Great Grandma had a great sense of humor.
You might have some of these books lying around.
You might even have a family bible. Aside from having spiritual benefits, these bibles often held family information (birth and death dates, marriages, etc.). I feel like almost every family has one of these.
Family Search and Ancestry.
These have a lot of records digitized. This option is a little tough if you have nothing to go on. They do have obituaries and census records that often hold some really awesome information. To utilize these, you need an ancestor's name, any dates associated with them, and any locations.
Using this can often require a lot of patience. I don't have a ton of patience, so I use this one sparingly these days. If you have the time and patience, you can use these whenever you want! Parents have to sleep sometime, but the internet never does. If you have insomnia, feel free to research your ancestors. You will be productive, and often times, reading the search results gets tiring. Maybe it'll help you sleep.
This one is like family, except different. These are people who knew your parents or grandparents. They are the ones who pinch your cheeks at weddings and say "I remember when you were knee-high to a grasshopper! My, how you've grown!" Often times, you might not actually know these people. It's okay. They tend to be nice.
They also might have a lot of fun stories you can glean information from.
For example, my sixth grade teacher used to tell us hilarious stories about his childhood best friend. Turns out that teacher's best friend was my cousin! I didn't realize this until the end of the year. I haven't met this cousin, but I now have stories about his childhood that make me laugh all the time.
Sometimes, the stories will be about things they did that also have clues about needed information. "I remember one summer, when we were celebrating his birthday," one of them might say about a grandparent. Aha! Your grandpa was born in the summer. Good to know.
Have you ever watched Sherlock Holmes? You might want to. You'll need to study his deducing skills.
These are the most common ways to find information.
Do you have any other ways to find information? I need to know!