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Genealogy – how to get start with your family tree, tracing ancestors: what to do and where to go.

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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!

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

  • 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

  • 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?