Family Tree Starter Kit
7 mins read

Family Tree Starter Kit

Sketch out your family tree with materials, resources, and programming from Plano Public Library.

Plano Public Library offers everything you need to learn a new skill, develop a new hobby, and pursue a new career. This month’s Starter Kit, in honor of National Family History Month, focuses on genealogical resources that you can access to start, expand, or deepen your family tree. Gain an understanding of your unique family history and shared human interconnectedness with programs, materials, and online resources.

Upcoming Events

Mark your calendar for these genealogy events through the end of the year!

Hidden Treasures: Archives, Libraries and Courthouses (Adult)

Learn what archives, libraries and courthouses provide as you work on your family history.

This program is held on Thursday, September 22 at 7 pm. Register to attend virtually or join us in person at Haggard Library.

Genealogy Lock-In (Adult)

Join other libraries across Texas and Oklahoma to see 8 webinars throughout the day on genealogy research.

This program will be held on Friday, October 21 from 9 am – 9 pm.

Solving the Mysteries of Women in Your Family Tree (Adult)

Finding information about your great-great-grandmother can be difficult if you don’t know where to look. Learn creative ways to research your female ancestors.

This program will be held at Haggard Library on Wednesday, December 7 at 2 pm.

See all of our Fall 2022 genealogy events on page 6 of our Engage brochure.


Genealogy Basics in 30 Minutes: The Quick Guide to Creating a Family Tree, Building Connections with Relatives, and Discovering the Stories of Your Ancestors by Shannon Combs-Bennett: Genealogists are like detectives. Working out puzzles is the name of their game! In the second edition of this award-winning guide, professional genealogist Shannon Combs-Bennett explains the joys, challenges, and triumphs of researching your family’s origins. Topics include research best practices, connecting with relatives, genetic genealogy, solving “brick wall” mysteries, genealogy road trips, and how to share charts, data, and family stories. | Print |

The Family Tree: Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine Bettinger: Discover the answers to your family history mysteries using the most-cutting edge tool available to genealogists. This plain-English guide, newly revised and expanded, is a one-stop resource on genetic genealogy for family historians. Inside, you’ll learn what DNA tests are available, with up-to-date pros and cons of the major testing companies (including AncestryDNA) and advice on choosing the right test to answer your specific questions. For those who’ve already taken DNA tests, this guide will demystify and explain how to interpret DNA test results, including how to understand ethnicity estimates and haplogroup designations, navigate suggested cousin matches, and use third-party tools like GEDmatch to further analyze data. | Print |

How to Do Everything: Genealogy by George Morgan: Ready to search your family tree but not sure how to start? Watching the genealogy reality shows and want to lean how to access– and interpret– genetic genealogy? Morgan shows you how to research your family history using the most current websites, mobile apps, social networking sites, record archives, census data, digital records, DNA research, and more. | Print |

It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree by A. J. Jacobs: New York Times bestselling author of The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically, A.J. Jacobs undergoes a hilarious, heartfelt quest to understand what constitutes family–where it begins and how far it goes–and attempts to untangle the true meaning of the “Family of Humankind.” | Print | Large Print | eBook |


Me and My Family Tree by Joan Sweeney: Following the successful model of Me on the Map, Sweeney demystifies an abstract concept by presenting it from a child’s point of view. In Me and My Family Tree, a young girl uses simple language, her own childlike drawings, and diagrams to explain how the members of her family are related to each other and to her. Clear, colorful, detailed artwork and a fill-in family tree in the back help make the parts of the family–from siblings to grandparents to cousins– understandable to very young readers. | Print |

Filling the Family Tree by Jim Ollhoff: Discusses the family tree as a tool for conducting genealogy research, offering advice on how to interview family members and others, and including tips on how to draw an extended family tree. | Print |

The Kids’ Family Tree Book by Caroline Leavitt: Dig deep into your family history with the updated edition of this popular, informative guide! Who are my ancestors? What nationalities were they? What work did they do? Kids are always bursting with questions about their family history; they want more stories, more details, more facts. With these research ideas and creative projects, young would-be genealogists can get the knowledge they crave. Find out how to gather ancestry information on the Internet, interview family members, reach relatives through social media, check the National Archives for passenger lists of newly arrived immigrants, and uncover clues in old photos and records. Preserve the material you’ve gathered in an online scrapbook or create a crayon batik family tree. Keep the togetherness going by planning a family reunion, starting a family newsletter, and more. | Print |

Online Materials
The Great Courses via Kanopy

Discovering Your Roots: An Introduction to Genealogy – Genealogy is a journey of self-discovery that can teach you as much about yourself as about those who came before you. But what holds many of us back from unearthing our family history is uncertainty about how to go about it. Discover which resources you should use and trust, how you should make your way through tangles of public records, and so much more.

Anthropology and the Study of Humanity – What does it mean to be human? Where did we come from? And what unites us in our diversity today? These big questions about humanity are increasingly important, and anthropology is the field of study that tackles them. From our tree-dwelling primate ancestors 63 million years ago through today’s globally connected citizens, anthropology looks at Homo sapiens to find out why we are the way we are.

Plano Public Library Program Recordings

Introduction to Genealogy Workshop – Learn the basics of common genealogical research tools and techniques.

Genealogy Terminology Workshop – Have an old illness, unusual death, legal term, or other words you don’t know? We’ll discuss some of them and where to find meanings.

Other Online Resources

Our suite of genealogy databases and resources is available on our website.

We hope this resource list is beneficial to your personal and professional goals. View other Starter Kit blog posts to explore more ways to enrich your life. You can find all of this and more at your local Plano Public Library

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