Where do we Start
We all start out with the idea that we know about our family’s history and where we came from and what ancestors did. Not true. It is amazing how we think great Grandma did this, and that Auntie Mable said that Granddad owned a blacksmith’s shop. It’s only when we start looking at records to get the proof, we find he actually worked as a Smithy’s labourer, and Grandma was a housekeeper for the local doctor.
So where is the best place to start? That’s an easy one to answer. Firstly, ask if any relative has already looked at researching the Family Tree as this could save you hours or even weeks of work. If they haven’t, talk to elderly family members and ask for any ancestor’s names, birth dates, children’s names and anything they can remember about the family. Once they are gone, this information goes with them. Whatever they tell you, take the information with you whenever you look for the proof, because it may have changed slightly as it was passed down through the years.
Finding and Keeping Records
Write everything down so that you can easily reference the information at a later date. There may be three generations with the same forename and surname, so dates are equally important. Something you are told might not seem relevant at the time, like an uncle was deaf and dumb, but this snippet could be the key to finding the correct ‘John Smith’ if there are dozens in the records. Once you have collected this information it’s time to research your ancestors in greater depth.
There are a number of website now that you can get free access to, which you can search different records for ancestors. Births, Marriages and Deaths along with Census details and some Parish Registers are now ‘on-line’, but remember to check everything you get from these sites against the original documents.
Although there is a vast amount of information on-line, you will come to a point where you will need to get out and about to add the greater details to your findings. This could involve the newspapers in the local library, or the immense amount of records held at the County Records Office. It will mean sitting and trawling through the ledgers and books, but will be very worthwhile and satisfying, especially when you find some very interesting facts about the family.
Local Help and Advice
Joining a local Family History Society can help tremendously, especially if they have databases and records ‘on tap’. There might also be a member in the Society whose family crosses yours and can pass information on to you. This is called ‘Members Interests’ where you can enquire through the Society publication.
Finally, make sure you collate all this information in a structured manner, whether on a wall chart or in a programme on the computer. Either way, back-ups are important as the last thing you want to do is lose everything you have worked towards.
This is only the start and we guarantee, you will soon become hooked and be passing all your experiences onto the following generation of ‘would be’ genealogists. Happy researching…….