I started researching my family about two years ago and was amazed at what I could find. I quickly came to the conclusion I needed some organization and developed a scheme of folders and sub-folders for downloaded copies of information about different family groups, children and spouse families. I use a naming convention for the file names as to what kind of record it is. I now have eight 3” binders full of printed paper, and I haven’t printed everything yet. I think if I hadn’t done this, I would be overwhelmed if I tried to go back and find something that I found some time ago. So do take the time to figure out a system that works for you.
I’m going to use Family Tree Maker to create my tree and then eventually upload it to Ancestry. However if I was to create my tree on Ancestry I would be careful to define the tree as ‘Private’ and to take the option to exclude it from the index (so no one can search and find it). Why? First I don’t want anyone looking over my shoulder while I am learning and figuring it out and second, I don’t want anyone copying my information before I am satisfied it is correct. As far as I know, if you make an error, and someone copies it, there is no way to get it back to fix it.
Also, take care if you do copy any information. I found one person who had one of my great great great grandfathers in England, married to a woman in the US and she was dead before he was born. About eight people just copied this information into their own trees, obviously without checking.
I’ve seen a number of places where you are advised not to put information about people who are alive on the Internet. Even though they have ways to mask the details, you can figure out a lot by looking at the record in context of who they are connected to.
Many of the on-line sites have tutorials etc to help you get started. Have fun. It can be an absorbing hobby.
The Scottish government has an excellent site called Scotland's People - it's a sort of "one stop shopping" place for church records, official government records, etc. Certain searches are free but you have to buy credits to see some of the records.
Originally Posted by Rob
Irish research (both Ireland and Northern Ireland) is a bit more challenging as many records were destroyed, some deliberately.
Can't skate but love to watch
This is a good help on Irish ancestors, though you'll still need to do as much as possible to track them in Canada/US first --
Unfortunately, Ireland has chosen to make a substantial profit center out of genealogy records, and many of them are only available if you go in person or if you hire a genealogist affiliated with the local center. I've set some of that aside for now because other areas are a lot more affordable to research. (I wouldn't mind paying for some access, but the fees I was quoted for their work -- and I know the parish -- were in excess of $750 U.S.)
Don't forget that if you hit a roadblock, look for siblings and try to follow them instead.
The message boards at Ancestry (which are free to use even if you don't have a subscription) have some good place-specific forums; I was very confused on the Upper/Lower Canada/Eastern Canada/Ontario/Quebec distinctions (because these boundaries are interpreted differently at different times, plus which the counties changed, plus which the Catholic church sent itinerant priests up and down the river who then came home and made entries in the register in their home parish which could be across the river and rather distant from the place where the baptism/marriage/funeral took place.) Nice genealogy buffs were a great help on that front.
I've been using www.myheritage.com to build a family tree. It started out free, but once I went back through the generations far enough, I had to pay to upgrade to keep adding people. The feature I've found the most interesting and useful so far is that it gives you matches to other family trees based on common info--so, you can find even more relatives online that way.
Originally Posted by milanessa
Lots of good suggestions already.
I use PAF (Personal Ancestor File) it's free and can be downloaded from the Family Search website (the LDS website) Family Search
It's easy to use, you can attach photos etc, but as free software it has its limits. I'm thinking about upgrading to something with more features.
Cyndi's List is an all purpose collection of links:
There is a section on Software and Computers and also a section on Organizing Your Research, which includes a section on Printable Charts and Forms.
Always record where you got your information and cite the source in whatever format you store your data.
I agree that trees and charts can be pretty stark and it's better when sharing to use a readable format like Register which you can put in a text file and then edit/update like any other document.
Can't help much on Irish specific research.
The lady who wants big bucks to share her research is delusional and selfish. I can see the point in not wanting to give all one's research to anyone who asks, but it's generally good to share. Especially since everyone's genealogy is probably got mistakes in it and you might find out something new when you share.