Getting Started in Family History
- Write down all that you know about your family
Draw a simple family tree using the facts you already know.
Find family documents, these may include certificates, letters, photos, diaries, newspaper cuttings and family bibles. Ask relatives if they
have anything that might be useful -often old mementoes and documents
have been put away and forgotten about.
Talk to relatives, ask them to share their memories - family photos
can be useful to get a conversation started. Make a list of things you
want to find out so you can concentrate on important areas.
Family stories may or may not be true. Do not discount them, but do not accept them at face value. Through your research obtain documentary evidence before including details in your family tree.
Next Steps ...
Write down everything you find out, with a note of where the information came from.
Also record when a search has been unsuccessful - this will prevent you doing the same research again in the future.
Obtaining birth, marriage and death certificates gives specific dates for these events and can also supply additional information.
Make sure you always have at least one fact that will prove you have the correct certificate.
Usually if you do not know the name of the father when applying for a birth certificate or the full names of the bride and groom when applying for a marriage certificate you will not be sure that it is your relatives' certificate. Come forward one or more generations until you have proven facts to use as a base.
Apply for the marriage certificate for an individual before their birth certificate as this will give their Father's name.
You can search for birth, marriage and death entries in the General Register Office Index.
This index covers births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales since 1837. You search for your ancestors surname in a given year, which is split into four quarters. The registration district is given alongside the name so you can use the geographical location to decide if its likely to be your relative. You can order a copy of the certificate from the local Register Office, stating you only want it if certain proven facts such as Fathers name are correct.
Copies of the index are available at many major libraries, includingBirmingham Central Library, repositories such as
family history centres run by The Church of the Latter Day Saints and various internet sites.
Add detail to your family tree by using the following sources
* Census returns,available from 1841 to 1901.
* Parish records detailing baptisms, marriages and deaths before 1837 when certificates were first issued.
* Trade Directories
* Electoral Registers and Poll Books
There are many books, magazines and web sites aimed at genealogists, you may also find it useful to join a family history society, in your own area so you can attend meetings and talks or in your research area so you get local help and assistance.