Hints & Tips One: Top 10 Tips for Starting Your Family History

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1. Work backwards in time


It’s easier to work methodically from a fact such as the date of birth or a marriage of a relative than to try and trace down from a person you don’t know much about.

2. Ask the family


Ask other relatives what they remember about their families. Make a note of any nicknames name changes. Ask them to tell you any family stories, what their ancestors did for a living, or what they looked like. Ask if they have any photos, letters or documents relating to your ancestorsfamily photographs.

3. Take notes


You never know what information will come in useful in your research so get into the habit of taking notes on what you have looked for and what you found. There are many useful computer software packages that will help you keep your records in an orderly manner and help draw up pedigrees and family groups sheets so you know who you are dealing with.

4. Check out the Web


The Internet can be a useful tool for contacting relatives and finding data. The GENUKI website has lots of free information and links to local experts and sources for the United Kngdom and Ireland. The Society of Genealogist website has useful free information leaflest with guides to starting your family history and links to useful websites. Of course many records themselves are now online on sites such as www.Ancestry.co.uk,   www.Findmypast.co.uk,   www.thegenealogist.co.ukwww.familyrelaitives.com, or www.origins.net.

5. Meet other family historians


Family Historians are incredibly help to each other. There is a network of local societies with regular meetings up and down the country. Here you can meet like minded people with the same interests and local expertise. The Society of Genealogists www.sog.org.uk  is the largest genealogical society with a remarkable library and education programme.  Details of local societies can be found through the Federation of Family History Societies www.ffhs.org.uk . Who Do You Think You are? Live at Olympia each year is the largest family history event in the world and is a great opportunity to get to know the world of genealogy,

6. What’s been done before?


It’s worth checking if anyone else is doing research into your family before you start. Social network sites like RoootsWeb, Familyrelatives, LostCousins or GenesReunited  where people can register their research interests and could be a way of finding information. The Society of Genealogists library collects published and unpublished family histories and research notes. It’s free library catalogue can be found on the library pages of this website which also list the surnames names in its various collections

7. Read up on the subject.


There are many good  books and magazines devoted to family history. The Society of Genealogists and The National Archives have good online bookshops with plenty of titles to help you.

8. Ask questions.


Who are you dealing with? You must at least know a name. Where did your ancestors live? Most records are associated with a place. When were they alive? Records and research will differ depending on the period you are interested in. What did your ancestors do in their lives and will that affect what information you can find? 

9. Get some documentary evidence


Your family history will be drawn from myriad of records and sources throughout history in which your ancestors will be mentioned. Birth, marriage and death records, censuses 1841-1911, wills, church records occupational records, education and apprenticeship, military service records, tax records, criminal records, poor law, newspapers, trade directories, ecclesiastical licences, church court records, tombstones etc might all throw up valuable information.

10. Stay focussed


It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the information that’s available to family historians. Remember to have a clear idea of what you are looking for and why you started the search in the first place. Family history is fun and thoroughly absorbing. If you like detective stories and have a mind for solving puzzles then it’s definitely the hobby for you. Good hunting.

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