Author Topic: Guide to Genealogy for Beginners  (Read 45868 times)

Offline jackhonour

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Guide to Genealogy for Beginners
« on: Monday 02 July 12 19:12 BST (UK) »
The Basics
Find a place to put your family tree. I use Ancestry, ignore the subscription parts and set up a free account. You can then place your family tree there and download it to other places. There are also options to share your tree with other people, which is useful.

The Next Steps
Collect everything you know from everybody and put it on the computer so you can access it easily to send to other researchers. Then, you have covered all the starting points and you have information to share with other people. Also, your information may be the most reliable pieces of information you have but be careful...not all family stories are true.

OK, where next? You need to look for baptisms. Familysearch is a free website where you can put in the name, the county without the shire (eg. Hertfordshire should be entered as Hertford) and then set a date range. If you know an approximate birth date put it in +/- 5 years, if you don't know put in from 14 years from his first child to about 40 years. Then look at the locations and see if anything is close to the place you think they should come from. If you find only one possible baptism, you know that is it. Add all the details to your tree and add the parents. Now remove first name in your search criteria and under the parents field, add the parents names to find all the brothers and sisters.

Often there will be more than one possibility so you have to use more than one source to find the answer. Also remember when adding mothers name, not to have her married surname - just leave this field blank until you find her married name.

So you have names and births. Then use FreeBMD to find marriages and deaths. Deaths will often give the age at death so that is easier but marriage - you may find him or her but it will only give the spouse's surname. So add a marriage to '(blank) Smith' for example. Then look for a marriage for a Smith in that date range to find his first name. Then familysearch for the birth and FreeBMD for the death.

With FreeBMD, you are looking at the death district and not place. The district is usually the nearest town. Also, it is put into quarters. March quarter is Jan, Feb, March. June quarter is April, May, June etc.

Subscription or no subscription?
Many sites offer a subscription to view records. FindMyPast and Genes Reunited are popular but my favourite is the largest and slightly more expensive Ancestry. Ancestry has so many records it is unbelievable and with an excellent search facility, it is certainly worth using. There is a 2 week free trial on offer as well. You don't need to be a member all the time! You can also contact members with the same ancestors by searching for each ancestor in public member trees. When contacting another member, always include your email address as many members will prefer to contact you through email rather than the Ancestry Private Messaging system.

A good thing if you don't have a subscription is Ancestry World Archives Project. Download the program and as long as you key 900 names in a 3 month period, you can access all Ancestry World Archives Project records for free. As more members join, the 'free' collection gets bigger and bigger.

So what other useful websites are there?
There are of course many other different free websites which you can use. Rootschat is very good - post a question or a lookup request and members will get back to you. Also, add your surname interests to their list and contact other members with that surname in the list. Also, visit each county and look at the resources. Here, many members offer to look in various different places for records. Look at what they're offering and then message them and ask if they can do a lookup for you.

Also, Books We Own has members who will look in books to find your ancestors.

There are also specialist surname interest lists. Put your interests down and email other people with the same interests. There isn't one for every county but there is for: London & Middlesex, Warwickshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire etc. Just Google for '(Hertfordshire) surname interest list' and look at the websites.

You may also feel the need to join a family history society. It will cost you a bit but there will be lots of collections which they can access which will help you with your research.

Also, MAPCO and are brilliant free websites.

Don't forget Google as well, the other day I googled Charlton on Otmoor Parish Registers and there were all the transcripts online. It saved a lot of time. And Googling peoples names can bring up a lot of information.

The Community
And finally, I wanted to say that the best geanologists get involved in the community. They tell other people when they find new things about an ancestor or if they now have access to FindMyPast and does anybody want a look up? It is these people who do well with their research - I myself have some books featuring some families from North Oxfordshire and I would be happy to do a lookup. I also found the website Books We Own a couple of days ago and I emailed everybody who I thought would be interested. It is always nice to give something back.

Also, be willing to share when you get in contact with somebody and make it seem like you want to be in contact with them. That way, you will get a lot more information and the tone of their emails will be more personal and not so business like.