Help Tracing your Family History
Tracing your Family History is a fascinating activity. Everyone has ancestors, however humble, and it is surprising how well documented the births, marriages and deaths were of the ordinary people who lived so many years ago. You certainly do not have to be connected to royalty to compile a Family Tree.
I started my investigation way back in the 1970s when research had to take place in the Public Record Office in London or in local offices of Registrars. It involved searching through Parish records and wading through the long grass of neglected country churchyards.
Since the coming of the Internet the life of the family historian has become easier, but not everything can be found out via the computer, and there is still a need for the notebook and pencil and a stout pair of wellies when you go looking for that elusive date on some Lichen covered tombstone.
To make a start, always chat to your oldest relations. Granny, or if you are lucky Great Granny, will usually be more than delighted to give you the more recent details of who was married to who and roughly the dates of births and deaths. Don’t get too carried away with your probing however, there may be old scandals that are still real to older people.
Next thing I would advise is to join the Family History Society either your local one or one covering the part of the country where your family came from. They are a mine of information, sometimes holding copies of Parish records and other information and provide a way of linking with others who may be researching the same family root as you. I have discovered various cousins many times removed through the Members interests lists of Family History Society and we swop Emails with information.
There are also Family History Magazines available as well as books on the subject.
One I especially recommend is The Genealogists Internet by Peter Christian. This will give information about relevant web sites and invaluable tips on how to navigate your way through them. Please note that some of the sites give free information others require a payment, either by the purchase of Vouchers (as for the 1901 census) or through an annual subscription. The above book will give all this information.
I would suggest you get all the free information you can before spending a lot of money. There is a lot of free basic material about births, marriages and deaths as well as some of the Census material that has been published.
The Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) have an excellent web site which is well worth visiting for free information.www.familysearch.org
The beauty of a hobby like this is that you can leave it for a while and then pick up where you left off. The information will not go away and neither will your fascinating ancestors.
One last note of warning!!!!
Your Family History is fascinating to you and hopefully to your family. This is, however, an “Anorak” alert . There is a danger that as you regale your friends and colleagues about Benjamin Bloggs who was a blacksmith in 1798 and lived with his 10 children in Little Wotsit in the Wold, you will see their eyes glaze over as they slowly edge away!
Good Luck and Happy Hunting, Val.
With help from Valerie Jones, who has over 30 years experience as an amateur Family Historian, we aim to provide a complete resource for genealogy!
Original Authors: Valerie Jones
Edit Update Authors: Nicola Norfolk
Updated On: 06/02/2007