In this section you'll find a range of free guides that will help you get started with your family history search.
Below are the first 5 steps. These are described in greater detail in the guides and include tools, techniques and tips to help you succeed on your genealogical quest.
This guide gives an overview of the first steps, resources and websites that can help you start your family history. Searching for your ancestors must begin with what you know.
Collect all the family documents you can and question your relatives: the older ones may know about letters, diaries, papers and dated photographs, while, if you are lucky, the Family Bible will have vital dates.
The records of civil registration in England & Wales, which commenced on 1 July 1837, relate to the birth, marriage and death of an individual, but before that the state relied on the Church for record-keeping and this did not include everybody.
Therefore, a single tier registration system was introduced, based on the administrative poor law unions, which had been set up in 1834.
Nineteenth and early twentieth century census returns are key documents in identifying and learning more about our ancestors. The census returns provide a snapshot of a family living together in a household on the night of the census.
They not only provide evidence which can help to prove lines of descent but they can also place individuals into the more meaningful context of their families and neighbours and the wider framework of their local and social surroundings.
Probate documents can be remarkably helpful to family historians and it would be a mistake to assume that only wealthy people made a will. If you are lucky, wills can be found from the fourteenth century up to the present day and no matter what the date, if they do exist, they can provide a tremendous amount of information.
Probate records are personal and these documents might provide one of the few instances when you will “hear” the actual wishes and words of your ancestor.
As member you can make the most of our resources, access our experts and find a welcoming community of people interested in family history and genealogy.
We all have roots. Let’s find them together.