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Getting started - Your genealogical research

Determine your goal before starting your research, for example:
  • Do you wish to trace all your paternal (male) ancestors? Or all your maternal (female) ancestors? Or determine all your ancestors, i.e., compile an ancestral / pedigree chart?
  • Do you want to trace all the descendants of a common progenitor, perhaps the first person to arrive in South Africa with your surname?
  • Do you want to find out if you are related to a particular historical person, who has the same surname as you do?
Once you have determined what it is that you want to achieve, only then can you decide how to approach it and what to look for. Remember that you need to work backwards in time from the known to the unknown, starting with yourself, your parents and grandparents.
Determine the scope of your research:
  • Bear in mind that if you wish to compile a pedigree chart of both the paternal and maternal lines, the number of persons in each generation doubles. You start with yourself, two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents and so on.
  • A research activity that is too large may be too difficult to manage and time-consuming.
  • Rather start with a limited scope, such as tracing your family back four or five generations and once that goal has been met, expand the research to include another two or three generations.