Starting Family History Research? You need to read this

Starting Family History Research can be the beginning of a wonderful adventure - an adventure that takes you on a magical journey back into the past.  The first thing you should do when starting to trace a family tree is to write down what you know about your parents and grandparents etc.  

A great way to document the information you collect is to use a family history chart.

You could also interview older relatives asking what they remember about their own parents and grandparents and also to ask them if they have any copies of birth, marriage or death certificates.  They may also have newspaper cuttings, diaries, letters and journals relating to your ancestors and may even have already begun their own research into the family that they are willing to show you.

Starting Family History Research - the Bible

Your relatives could have a family bible or other religious book passed down through the generations - you may find details about your ancestors have been written into the pages of the book.  As the details were probably written from memory, you should always try and substantiate the information by checking official records.

As you can see in the bible extract below, Mary's marriage date is given as 1892. It required further investigation to determine Mary Florance Adams married Henry Thomas Richardson on 16th December 1893 and not 1892.  This was probably to hide the fact that Mary was pregnant when she got married as Lily was born on 30 May 1894!!

Front of Family Bibl

From the details written in the Book as per the extract above, we know Mary was probably born in 1869, and investigation has proven this information to be correct as Mary Florence Adams was born on 25 October 1869.

Names in Family Bibl

Her children with Henry Thomas Richardson were also written into the bible and investigation has shown the information was correct, with birth certificates obtained for Lily Florence Richardson, Harry James Richardson, Arthur Earnest Richardson, Alfred George Richardson and Harry Richardson (my grandfather).  The death date of Harry James Richardson was also correct.

When starting family history research, it is up to you to decide which avenue you wish to explore first - whether to start with your father's or mother's line or investigate a line which has a more unusual surname, meaning it could be easier to trace, but this is not always the case. What you think is an unusual surname may not be as unusual as you think. Believe me, I have found that to be the case on numerous occasions!!!  Some brick walls you may encounter in your research could be broken down by using some of my genealogy tips.

What information you decide to include when you begin to trace a family tree is entirely up to you - you may decide to just investigate your immediate family or branch out and research more lines. Although it is more difficult to investigate more lines, there may be rewards to following this path because your distant relatives may have photographs and memories of your direct ancestors.  Once you have found more information regarding your ancestors you may want to consider how you will go about recording your family history.

Your own ancestors may have tried to trace a family tree and have pages and pages of notes from this research. These notes, which may have been kept by their descendants, or passed on to the Local County Record Office, could prove invaluable to your research.  Some other people who have constructed a family tree may have used abbreviations for events such as births and marriages etc.  

Another great place to begin to trace a family tree is Free Genealogy, who have links to sites covering Beginner's Guides to Royal Genealogies.

Vintage Postcards

I have come across a great site that sells vintage postcards.  They are sold online and shipped worldwide. Hold history in the palm of your hand - maybe even find a postcard written by, or sent to, your ancestors!

By going to Picture the Past, you can take a journey into your past with images from Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

You may decide that you would like to visit the area your ancestors came from - I have come across Britain Express - a great UK travel and heritage guide.

> Starting Family History Research


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