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How to research my family history
How I did it: I've always been fascinated with my family history and the idea of researching my family tree but I think it was 2005/6 when I really started to take it seriously and have a proper look. I opened an account with ancestry.co.uk and started to fill in what I already knew. It then started giving me hints (Or shaking leaves as they call it) to records containing my family and other peoples trees that may also have my ancestors in.
From information gained from the Free BMD site that lists records for Births, Marriages and Deaths I was able to gain the information that enabled me to purchase certificates. These we invaluable as marriage certificates listed fathers names of both spouses and their occupation. They also gave you an idea of where in the country they were living at the time making it easier for me to locate them in Cencus records from 1841 - 1901.
I have now managed to trace all but one of my four grand parents familes back to my forth generation grand parents. (My Grandparents, great grandparents) (I hope that is right.) My Dad's grand father has been the hardest to trace as his mum never mentioned a father's name on his birth certificate and he was registered under her family name. She never married and spent her life living with her parents. I'm not sure i'll ever know who his Dad was to allow me to go back any futher.
It hasn't just linked me to the past either. Through the different sites I use I have also been linked to living relatives who I am now in regular touch with. Family I probably wouldn't have had the chance to meet with out it. I also send letters to a distant cousin of my Nan's who lives in America. Something I would never have done if ancestry hadn't given us a comman interest.
It really is amazing what you can discover.
Lessons & tips:
- Use the message boards. Fellow researchers help alot even if they aren't researching the same family line as you. Often they can point you in the direction of a website or book that may have the information you need
- Talk to relatives. What they can give you more then anything is memories and even if its something quite trivial to them it helps bring your tree to life and not just a list of names that are family.
- Concentrace on one family name at a time. I went a bit mad and tried to research my four names all at the same time. I had records and certificates everywhere and they all got mixed up. Looking back I wish I'd done one line at a time.
- By a nice folder to keep al your documents in. I colour cordinated mine and devided it into my four main family lines. It makes it easier if you want to refer to it in the future.
- Never think you've discovered all you can because even when you thing you've found everything more records are released and another family member surfaces that you never knew existed before.
A messgae board linked to towns or villages rather then names so you can post messages regarding your research to a particular area.
- http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/default.asp This site is helpful for ordering certificates for ancestors.