The Five-Step Research Process

As you do family history research, you will typically follow five steps. These steps, taken in sequence, are called the "research process." They are:

  • Step 1: Identify What You Know About Your Family

This step includes filling out a pedigree chart and family group records with what you already know about your family, gathering additional information from home sources and relatives, and organizing your records for easy access. Use your PAF file to compile this information.

  • Step 2: Decide What You Want to Learn About Your Family

This step involves selecting a specific ancestor about whom you would like to know more, determining what you would like to know about that ancestor, and preparing a research log.

  • Step 3: Select Records to Search

This step involves identifying the category of record you need to search in order to find out what you would like to know. This record category might be a compiled record, an original record, or a reference source. The step then involves identifying the specific record to be searched next, and describing it in your research log.

  • Step 4: Obtain and Search the Record

This step involves obtaining the record from the Family History Library, or another repository, searching it, and recording the results of the search on your log. You may also make an extract or photocopy of that information.

  • Step 5: Use the Information

This step includes submitting names for temple ordinances, submitting information to Pedigree Resource File, posting information on the Internet, writing family histories, and other uses of the information.

Refer back to these 5 steps whenever you are doing research. The sources below will assist you with steps 3 and 4 of the Research Process.