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Genealogy and Family History

If you are about to begin creating your family tree, using either specialist software, a paper tree or are you putting together a family history album to pass down to the grandchildren you may be wondering where to start! Help is at hand - there is a site which will guide you every step of the way.

If, however, you have already started researching your family tree you too will also find this web site of interest and helpful through the member boards, new contacts etc. You can also share your interests and know how with others and add useful hints and tips for others just starting their tree.

The site in question have kindly given permission for the reproduction of the information to get you started.


What is the difference? Genealogy is the study of our ancestors, usually through lineage, commonly the male line. Family history is about our recent past, the olden days, how our ancestors lived, worked and played. Genealogy on its own, for some, can become monotonous, but combined with family history it will give us an insight into how our ancestors lived. Using old family photographs can also provide useful clues. The quest for your past can be fascinating and rewarding. As a hobby, researching genealogy and family history can be fun, rewarding and compelling.

To Begin

  • Decide what your aim is. Do you want to trace the male or female line only in your family, or do you want to build your tree with ancestors as far back as you can go, or perhaps you might just want to study the recent past of your family history

  • Start with the present, write down your immediate family names, i.e. mum, dad, brother(s), sister(s), grandparents. Then add as much as you can about them, i.e. date of births, marriages and deaths. Interview relatives and make sure you write down all the information gathered, this is the most important thing to do. You will get laden with lots of notes, documentation and paper work, but make sure you keep yourself organised.

  • Talk to older family members to find out names, dates and any information, events and happenings that they can remember has taken place, making sure that you write down all the facts. Ask them about their schooling, what they played with and what they did for fun, where they lived, where they worked and what historical events have happened or affected them, this will help to build up a picture of their lifestyle.

  • Get all your old photos, documents, birth/marriage/death certificates, letters etc together to see what they can tell you about your family’s history.

  • Please let living relatives know that you are researching and building a family tree and ask their permission if you intend using any of their photos or documentation on the internet.

  • Join the Library, History Groups and use the Internet. Use and search sites such as this one to glean as much information as possible from each source and other like minded members.

  • Visit Record Offices, check out addresses in the Library. If you live too far away, or you want to save on the leg work, post a message for a “look up” in the Forum. Other members visiting a Records Office might undertake an extra search whilst they are there, on your behalf. Or alternatively if you are visiting a Record Office, offer your services to do look ups for others.

  • It is very important that you always write down, make notes or keep a log on your pc of the information that you have found in your research, dates, names, places etc, it would be burdensome to have to go back and research the same person again, because you had forgotten what you had read!

  • When you are satisfied that you have all the information you need, to add an entry in your tree, you can then transfer it to the software you have installed to create your family tree, or perhaps you are using a spreadsheet package to add your entries into.

  • Do not try to research too many surnames at once. Start with one and work through. When you come to a broken branch, then try starting a new branch in your tree.

  • Don’t forget to take photocopies of original documentation and give back the originals to members of the family who may have lent them to you.

I hope this has whetted your appetite and you are ready to begin researching your family tree? 





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