Welcome to the new Help…blog!
When we set out to do Family history research for our Family Tree, very often it just seems that we have taken on a mammoth task. You may be feeling a mixture of frustration and elation in equal parts. Perhaps there seems to you that there are so many places to look and so many records to look at. Ancestors can be easy to find at first and then they just seem to disappear from view, or somehow hide away from you within the database because somebody has misplaced the record, or it has been damaged by fire, flood or eaten by mice. It could be that the record is wrong because the details were entered incorrectly.
I was once given some fantastic advice a few years back by a professional family historian. It is to
‘Tackle researching for your British ancestry by taking it in managable bites at a time.’
Perhaps the first tools to use are:
- Birth Certificates – as these provide you with parent’s names for ancestors
- Marriage Certificates – that will give you the father’s names for both parties
- Census records – which, as well as other information, furnish you with the birth places of ancestors and their ages
- Parish Registers – which will, with luck, supply a track for you to follow of baptisms, marriages and burials for your family.
If you want to learn how to find these documents in on line databases then you may want to look at my course
In truth, all of the above records should be used together so that you can corroborate the details. A census may give you a place of birth different from the actual place found on the Birth Certificate because your ancestor, for some reason best known to themselves, wanted to claim a different place of birth from the actual town. Ages in census may have been given wrongly for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that some did not really know!
It is vital to start your family tree research from the latest provable fact. This could be your parent’s details, your grandparent’s or perhaps your own birth certificate.