PAF Tutorial

Introduction to Family History: Family and Home Sources

Getting Started

Family history—searching for your ancestors—is a fun and rewarding experience. Family history includes biographical research and learning more about your ancestors. Genealogy is the study of the history of families and the line of descents of families and ancestors.

Start now! Searching for your ancestors may be one of the most rewarding adventures of your life.

Start with yourself—the first place to begin your family history research is with your own personal knowledge. Start with yourself and work backwards. Write down your parents’ names, names of your grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other family members. Organize your family papers and keep track of sources.

Gather records of your family together in one place —Bibles with genealogical details (known as family Bibles), church certificates, diaries and journals, letters, military records, newspaper clippings, photographs, scrapbooks, vital records (birth, marriage, and death certificates), wedding and anniversary announcements, and others.


Contact Others

Next, contact relatives, especially your oldest relatives, regarding your family—asking about your ancestors’ names; dates of birth, marriage, and death; and where these events occurred (the localities).


Charts and Forms

Identify names, dates, places, and relationships. Record this information on a pedigree (ancestor) chart. You should start with yourself and be “number one” on the pedigree chart. This form is serves as a “road map” or “skeleton” showing names of your direct line ancestors and other family history details.

Click to View Larger

Pedigree Chart

Click to View Larger

Family Group Sheet

You will also want to compile family group records for each family. These forms, also known as family group sheets, show name of the father, mother, and children for each family on your pedigree, along with genealogical details. There is space on family group records to document your sources, such as Family Bible or 1900 U.S. Census (be sure to include details regarding title of the record, locality, microfilm number, page number, etc.). Be as complete as possible.

Free pedigree charts, family group records, and other genealogical forms may be printed from the Internet. Visit BYU's Family Search Lab website and click “Print Genealogical Forms.” Then click “Pedigree Chart” or “Family Group Record”, two useful forms for beginning your research. (The Family Search Lab page is a family history/genealogy resource site associated with the Utah Valley Regional Family History Center. It has links to such programs as PAF, TempleReady, and

Genealogical charts and forms may be printed at no cost from the following Web sites:

Get organized! You may wish to keep copies of your pedigree charts and family group records in a three-ring binder or in file folders. Some people keep a Research Log, or list of records searched.


Personal Ancestral File

You will want to enter your family information into a computer program. Personal Ancestral File (PAF) is one of the most popular and easy to use genealogy software programs. The current version is PAF 5.2.18. It is recommended you use the current PAF version.

After you have gathered family information, you will want to proceed to Unit 2, Installing PAF.

After installing PAF you will be able to view and print pedigree charts, family group records, and other forms.


Family History Tips

Work on your third and fourth generation ancestors, then move on to your fifth generation. You will want to record the children and other family members for each generation and make sure the genealogical information is as accurate as possible. You will then be ready to move on to your sixth generation and trace their children and families.

The Family and Church History Department teaches a four-step research process:

A free one-page handout, entitled “How Do I Start My Family History?” (order number 32916), is available from Church Distribution. This guide outlines the steps to take in beginning family history research. It includes simple instructions and a pedigree chart.

LDS Church members should meet with their ward family history consultant for assistance in filling out forms or using the Personal Ancestral File program.


Additional Tips for Beginning Research



Good luck with your family history research!