Genealogy: Chart Your Family Tree


After you’ve retired, you may have a lot more free time to explore interesting activities, hobbies and other interests. A great way to connect to your past is to pursue genealogical research. Genealogy enables you to explore your history, learn about your ancestors and create a family legacy for future generations. Unfortunately, many individuals don’t know where to begin. We’re going to discuss some simple steps you can take to learn more about your own family history.

Gather Family Information
Start by talking to immediate members of your own family. Gather important information such as dates and places of birth, marriages, education levels, divorces, military service, occupations and names for each individual. You can then progress to grandparents and great-grandparents.

Visit Family Elders
You may be surprised at how much information you can obtain by sitting down with the older members of your family. Request some older photographs and find out which places and people are depicted in each one or ask people to recount old stories. You should also search for important historical documents such as citizenship papers, diplomas, newspaper articles, marriage, death and birth certificates, military records and treasured keepsakes.

Record & Transfer the Data
After you have gathered this important information, you should start recording it. Write down the stories you have just heard and record as many relevant names, dates and locations as possible. You can then begin the process of transferring this data to your family tree. You can record the information in a paper book or purchase a genealogy software program and enter the information electronically.

Start With One Family Line
In order to avoid becoming overwhelmed, you should start with one family line or surname. Focus on tracing this family back as many generations as you possibly can before progressing to the next family branch. You can continue until you have researched every branch of your family tree.

Utilize Various Resources

If you live in the same area as most of your ancestors, you should probably take a trip to your local library. You should be able to obtain many important records such as vintage books, old newspapers or microfiche records. Some larger libraries even include a special genealogy room. Other useful resources include telephone or city directories or even taxpayer records.

Many online sites also specialize in assisting genealogists locate records of their ancestors. Some sites provide free information and services, whereas others require a subscription fee. Often considered the mother lode of genealogy sites, proclaims more than 5 billion names offering census surveys, birth and death certificates, and immigration documents. The subscription is $29.95 a month, but if your local library has a subscription, you can work through them for free.

As you can see, researching your family genealogy is not as difficult as you may think. There are many useful resources available to assist you with your search and help you create an invaluable family tree whether you’re retired or not. Genealogy will enable you to gain insight into past generations and feel more personally connected to your past.
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About Cathy Severson

Cathy Severson helps baby boomers find more meaning and purpose in their lives and work. Get your copy of her complimentary e-book Guide to Retirement Activities a comprehensive look at work, volunteering and leisure based on an individuals’ personalities. Call for a complimentary 20-minute consultation to answer your most pressing concern. 928.775.4949 or email Cathy at

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