A Step by Step Guide and Some Useful Tips for Researching Your Family History and Family Tree.
- Speak with family members, especially older ones, ask them about occupations, presumed dates of birth and marriage, military service, any scandals or rumours - there are quite often some of these, places people lived or were born. You can never have too much information to start your research.
- Take a look at family photos, ask who the people and places are and make a note on the back of the picture. I have seen hundreds of photos and photo albums at auctions and antique fairs etc, but without an identity they are just blank faces staring back at you, their history is lost, probably for ever!
- Begin your tree with what you know, usually yourself. Most of us have our own birth certificates or marriage certificates etc.
- Listen to the family rumours but don't let them divert you from your course. Rumours should stay as rumours until you have evidence to confirm them.
- The term Aunt or Uncle is or was not always used to describe a blood relative, quite often close family friends would be called Aunt or Uncle. Always confirm that a genuine family relationship exists.
- Register with one of the online family history websites, they have transformed family history and genealogy research and you will have millions of records at your finger tips, they will also help you build your family tree.
- Always avoid presuming a link between individuals just because the place or name seems to be right.
- Don't just copy an existing family tree assuming it to be right, always check the sources being used. It is all to easy to make mistakes this way and waste so much time.
- It is very common to find yourself down an apparent dead end, take a step back and think of a different path to take. Internet genealogy sites are full of spelling mistakes and transcription errors, always look at variations of names, Davies and Davis for example.
- Always look at the original documents, don't rely on the internet transcription (see above).
- Use census returns to the full, take a look at your ancestor's occupation, look at the dwellings in the same street to get a feel for the area and type of person living there.
- Always keep an open mind when researching, don't let family rumours or gossip mislead you!
- Most important - when you reach that dead end contact someone like me for a no obligation assessment of your requirements. A fresh set of eyes and a few years experience works wonders!
I really hope you will enjoy researching your family history!