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Where To Start Working On Your Family History If You Feel Overwhelmed and Like There's Nothing Left To Do

Where To Start Working On Your Family History If You Feel Overwhelmed and Like There's Nothing Left To Do

This was the question I asked myself following last LDS General Conference, where I felt I had been given a mandate to work on family history in earnest. We have our custom family tree print hanging on the wall in our living room and it has 8 generations of names completely filled in for both my husband's side and as well as mine. Where could I contribute meaningfully I asked myself?

After praying, crying and feeling frustrated for a day, I turned to Google, searching for tips and advice on where I should start. It was several months ago now, but after feeling frustrated some more trying several things different articles suggested, I stumbled upon the suggestion to do a FamilySearch recommended task.

recommended tasks on FamilySearch

You can find these on the right-hand side of the FamilySearch home page after you log in, and doing one was the perfect way for me to start. It was a small, concrete task that I knew was needed and would clear up some ambiguity. No, I didn't save an ancestor's soul with that specific click, but it gave me the confidence to actually start rather than just stressing about starting. (I'm not the only one who does that—right?)

I did a few recommended tasks and then I remembered the advice I'd heard from two family history consultants whose class I took a few years back. Attaching sources is valuable work, and you never know where it might lead. So after finishing the recommended task I was working on for my third-great-grandfather, I went in search of some sources for his information. I started on FamilySearch, which was a bust. Feeling slightly discouraged, and incredibly intimidated, I turned to Ancestry.

third great grandfather

In actuality, I had nothing to fear from Ancestry. It was intuitive and they had TONS of German records and I was able to quickly find several records verifying the information I'd found in FamilySearch about my third-great-grandfather. At that moment, I became addicted to Ancestry. As I searched for sources for information I already had in FamilySearch, I found other family members without any information in FamilySearch—"cousins"! I was able to add their information to FamilySearch, along with the sources I'd uncovered and begin to do their temple work. Currently, this is my happy place. Searching for sources on Ancestry and following the trails they uncover wherever they take me!

There are infinite ways to get involved in family history, but if you feel like all your genealogy has been done, or just don't know where to start, here's are just a few concrete and truly valuable things you can do:

  • complete "Recommended Tasks" on FamilySearch
  • find and attach sources for existing information on FamilySearch

I'm no expert, but this works for me! What are concrete, repeatable things that you do to do family history work? I'd love to hear them, so tell me in the comments below!

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