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Consider focusing your initial attention on either your father’s side or mother’s side of the family. Most people with a little bit of digging can successfully trace their family roots back to about the mid 1800s. This corresponds roughly to the date when many European countries began to keep official records (birth certificates, death certificates, etc.) and record detailed census information (names, dates of birth and addresses of each household). At about 32 years per generation, the mid-1800s represents some six generations for most people. When you consider that you have two parents, four grandparents, 8 great grandparents, 16 great great grandparents and 32 great great great grandparents, and you include associated aunts, uncles & siblings, then it quickly becomes obvious that you are dealing with a large number of people. By focusing (at least initially) on just one side of the family you can effectively reduce your workload in half. You can always go back and complete your research on the other side of the family at a later date.

• There will be times when you will hit a roadblock researching certain family members. When this happens, put your research aside and try researching someone else. The important thing to remember is to keep going and not get bogged down on one individual or one avenue of research.

• Be careful to pace yourself so that you do not suffer from burnout. Be prepared to take several months, if not years, to exhaust all avenues of research.

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