Curious about the family members that came before you? Learn your family backstory in three simple steps. 

By Brandi Broxson
Updated May 25, 2018
Illo: Family Tree
Credit: Boyoun Kim

1. Build a Family Archive

Write down everything you know about your family, including dates and locations of significant events (birth, death, marriage), says Jill N. Crandell, director of the Center for Family History and Genealogy at Brigham Young University. Search your home for documents and photos, then cross-check your info with relatives and ask about what else they know.

2. Use Database Sites

Fill in holes and gather additional records on a site like Ancestry. Document what you find and share new info with interested relatives.

3. Roadblock? Call a Pro

A genealogist can uncover hard-to-find information and help you parse records you’ve already found, says Diana Elder, an accredited genealogist in Highland, Utah. Find a credentialed one through or (expect to pay $20 to $60 per hour).