I presented at a conference for local museum professionals at the beginning of the month and found conference attendees shared a common frustration. They had visitors who wanted to trace their family tree – and oftentimes, the museum or history institution didn’t know how to help.
So where do you start?
First, decide your goals.
1) Do you want to trace your tree yourself? If so, a good source for starting out may be your local library. They have books and often classes that can guide the beginner. Also check out the “Help” section on FamilySearch – they have great online classes.
2) Do you want someone to do it for you or are you stuck on a complicated question? It’s time to hire a professional. As a professional, I love getting questions like “how do I find out more about my grandfather’s family?” I know you have a goal, and I can lead your search in the right direction. Complicated questions are often too hard for a local library or historical society to answer. They simply don’t have the time to sort through every thing or know where to look. Professionals are trained to look at a variety of resources and have the ability to seek out help.
A local historical society is a great starting point for genealogical help. But they’re volunteer organizations and have limits. Think about your goals before approaching them for help.