• A Beginner's Guide

    1. Make a note of what you know - or think you know.
    2. Check this information with other members of the family and correct your notes if needed.
    3. Ask older generations for any family stories and rumours. Make notes of who told you what and crosscheck with other family members. Ask to see photos, diaries and any documents they may have. Get them to tell you who is in the photos and write down the information! Make a note of anything, no matter how absurd it may seem.
    4. Try to record as much as possible of the given names used in the family, not only the used given name or the "nickname" but also the second and third given names. This because the given names of the grandparents were often given as second or third given names to children and thus might hint what the grandparent's names were.
    5. Find out names and dates of birth of your earlier generations.
    6. Do you know where the family graves are located. Find and document the information on these.
    7. Start working backwards. You will probably have your own details and possibly those of your parents, so move on to those of grandparents. In Finland HisKi is a good website for finding where and when ancestors born, married and died. You should check this information with original sources since HisKi is a secondary source which may contain errors made during transcription etc.
    8. Once you have reached about 1850, then is the time to start looking at the HisKi History Book database, which is available online at the Genealogical Society of Finland's website.
    9. Birth, marriage and death information is available in the HisKi database for a major part of the parishes in Finland. The newest data available is 100 years old, but most parishes start from round 1850. Note that this database is a secondary data source and that the data must be checked from the originals, ie. paper originals or micro films.
    10. There is a huge amount of information available online. You may get some good hints from the SFHS link collection.
    11. More specific information is available from the IGI (International Genealogical Index) on Family Search, but you must be aware of so-called "submitted" records as these can be very misleading.
    12. One of the most useful websites is Google.
    13. Beware of jumping to conclusions. Check the information before fully believing in it. If you "select" the wrong ancestor at one point you may eventually realize that you at some point have spent days, months and years researching somebody else's ancestry - having to start over...
    14. A good idea is to post details of queries on as many free websites as you can.
    15. You may find you are contacted by another researcher who says they have details of your family. This is really exciting, but you must be very careful to check any information they give you as it may not be accurate. If you find they have made an error, politely inform them of this fact, so that they can change their records if they wish.
    16. Having joined the Finlander Forum ask for advice if you are not sure of something. Better to feel a little foolish for asking something obvious, than to take a wrong turn in your tree and have to unravel it all afterwards. Most of us have done that at some time, so don't be embarrassed to ask.
    17. Have a browse through the material available on the SFHS website. There may be just the thing you are looking for there.
    18. Search the Finlander forum. Maybe somebody else has asked the same question before? Maybe somebody have had an interest in the same family?
    19. Have a browse through the material available on the GSF website. Much of the material is in Finnish and Swedish – however you may be lucky..