iStock Online research may connect you with living members of your family.

So you want to learn about your family history, but you don’t know where to begin. Lesley Anderson, Content Specialist and spokesperson for Ancestry.ca has some tips on how you can begin your genealogy journey.

“I always tell people to start with what they know and then go backwards,” she said in a telephone interview from her Ottawa office. “Start asking family members to fill in the blanks. They might have old birth certificates, pictures, bibles or stories…”

Anderson suggests five steps to get you started.

1. Start with what you know. Tap into your family resources and begin gathering old documents and stories about your family’s past.

2. Build a family tree on Ancestry.ca. Ancestry.ca offers this service for free, once you input your family data online you will always access to it.

3. Find others reaching out for ancestors: A membership to the website (which will run you $12 a month for the Canadian site and $25 a month for the ‘World Deluxe’ membership) gives you access to see the historical records and information on other people’s family trees, and connects you through an anonymous email system.

4. Search Ancestry.ca’s databases for your family records: This service is offered to paying members, giving them access to billions of original documents that have been digitized and indexed. This means that you can search the records database by a person’s name, location or an approximate date, and all of the documents Ancestry.ca has with that person’s name on it (censuses, passenger lists, birth, death and marriage certificates…) will pop up at your finger tips.

5. Never stop searching: Once you’ve started researching your family’s history, keep going. With new documents being added to the Ancestry.ca databases regularly, you will never run out of things to sift through. Aside from finding the information you know you’re looking for, you could find distant relatives and information you never thought to ask.

“Ancestry.ca has really revolutionized the way we do things, in the past you had to flog through old documents and archives,” explained Anderson. “Times have changed and archives are realizing that genealogists and family researchers are the ones who want digital documents to be recognized.”

For more information check out Ancestry.ca for a free two week trial to get you started on your family history journey.

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