Our regular meetings offer a wide variety of information on researching your ancestors. We encourage you to attend regularly. Attendance also facilitates networking with others looking for their family's histories. CFGS also offers periodic classes on Getting Started in Genealogy and related subjects. To find out more check out our Meeting Calendar and Events Page for a listing of both CFGS Meetings and Genealogy Classes offered at the library.
The following handouts are utilized in our beginner classes. Read them to get an idea of where to start - Getting Started in Genealogy and Getting the Most from Free Genealogical Web Sites. You should also review every page of our Genealogy Tips and "How Tos".
FamilySearch is a good place to start and it is free - FamilySearch.org - A Goldmine for Genealogists and see their FamilySearch.org Site Map to discover what resources they have plus classes and videos in their Learning Center. Family Search also has a good Family History for Beginners section you should check out. Cyndi's List is listed below as a general resource with thousands of links to genealogy sites but their Beginners Section is designed for those starting out. If you are using Ancestry.com (paid) make sure you should view the helpful videos on their YouTube Channel.
If you are confused about how you are related to others in your family, this YouTube video on Your Family Tree Explained will help.
CFGS offers multiple meetings every month in vairous locations. For some we maintain a list of our past sessions with links to speakers, topics and websites that were discussed. These can be found on our General Meeting Notes and Computer Group Notes pages. In some cases an email link is provided for you to obtain additional information on a particular meeting or topic. Noite that for some meeting notes, access is only available to our members.
There are many genealogy forms that you can use to help you organize and document your family's history. The primary forms are the Family Group Sheet and Pedigree or Ancestral Chart and various research logs. The Family Group Sheet is used to document a husband and wife plus their complete family including their parents and children. The Pedigree Chart is the familiar family tree that shows how everyone is related to each other up and down the generations but it also contains birth, marriage and death information. There are also a number of research forms that should be used to help plan and keep track of your research by listing objectives, sources used, people and places visited, search results, and findings.
Using standard forms in conjunction with a good genealogy software program when starting out can help you track your research and avoid duplication. It is also helpful to have a complete set of clean copies of the blank US Census forms that you can use to determine what the column headings are. A large variety of free genealogy forms are available on Ancestry.com,, Cyndi's List, FamilySearch.org website and elsewhere on the Internet. Also most of the popular genealogy programs will generate these forms using your data. CFGS is providing several forms here that you might want to use in your research:
- Family Group Sheet prepared by CFGS that can be printed and used to organize each family you are researching
- Family Group Sheet Page 1 and Page 2, interactive PDF forms from the Ancestors TV show on PBS that can be completed using Adobe Reader before printing
- Fillable Pedigree Chart is an interactive PDF form from Ancestors TV show on PBS that can be completed using Adobe Reader before printing.
African American Genealogical Research
The Orange County Library System offers a pamphlet on Resources for African American Genealogical Research to specifically help you get started locating black ancestors.
The Orange County Library's West Oaks Branch and Genealogy Center has a wide assortment of books and other materials to assist you in beginning your research. Check out their Genealogy Center Guide (PDF) to find out about their resource materials that are available.
The Genealogy By Barry Blog has a list of over 70 Beginning Genealogy 101 Tutorials that can be viewed or downloaded for free. While there, I recommend you subscribe to his free newsletter and check our all the other resources he makes available at no charge.