Getting Started — A Toolkit for the Beginner

Where do I start?

Should I build an online family tree? Or or use desktop genealogy software? How do I decide where to keep my data?  What about DNA testing?  Which one?

It helps to get advice from several more experienced genealogists and do your own online research as well before you take the plunge.  We’ve provided links below to some of the more popular desktop software programs, online sites and DNA testing sites.  We’re not endorsing any particular brand, and we encourage you to thoroughly research several options before jumping in. Prices range from free to fairly pricey.

Desktop Genealogical Software Sites

Family Tree Maker 2019

Legacy 9.0

Family Historian 6

Roots Magic 7

Family Tree Heritage

Online Family Tree Sites


Family Search

My Heritage


Genealogical DNA Sites

DNA testing now available to consumers has revolutionized genealogy research since it first became available in 2000.  It is estimated that the larger DNA testing companies have done almost 27 million profiles.  Your DNA results include information about your genetic ethnicity estimates and identifies potential DNA matches, linking you to others who have taken the test who share your ancestry.  Your results are a great starting point for more family history research, and it can also be a way to dig even deeper into the research you’ve already done, and even find living relatives you didn’t know you had!

Ancestry DNA


My Heritage DNA

Family Tree DNA

Findmypast DNA

National Geographic Genographic Project


Paper Charts and Forms (for personal use only)

Blank paper charts and forms can be used to help you organize your research.

Family Group Record

Pedigree Chart (4 gen.)

Pedigree Chart (5 gen.)

Relationship Chart


Where to search for records