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  • Sources of UK Records

    Most of the records hat we have had to access in tracing our ancestors have come from England, Scotland and ireland. 
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    The Secrets under grandma's bed

    Family documents are an important source of information.  They may be well filed and organised, or you may come across them in shoeboxes, in cases on top of wardrobes or buried in old chests of drawers.
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    Bringing old photos back to life

    Old photographs are delicate objects. If they haven't been preserved properly, it is likely that they will have incurred some damage between the time they were taken and now.
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    Network of family members

    Use a Family and Home Information Sources Checklist as a guide to sources of information you might find in your home or the home of a relative.
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  • Scottish Records

    If you’ve got Scottish ancestors then you’re in luck because Scotland is a world-leader in providing family history information online.
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    Irish records

    If your ancestors are Irish, you might need to become a good detective.  Better still, if you can, talk to your Granny! She'll start you off in the right place.
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    Genealogy for Beginners

    DIY for you to trace your own family tree.
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    Locate your first primary source

    The most important sources are eye-witness and official documents.  The best first Primary Source is your grandparent's death certificate. It's a Gold Mine!!
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  • How to trace your ancestors

    Getting started is the biggest hurdle. Here's an easy guide to get you going.
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    Collecting evidence

    The best place to start collecting evidence is with the family. Especially the elders.
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    Bigger than you think

    Be warned. Once you start you'll be hooked forever! I had to learn to eat the elephant one toenail at a time.
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    Record keeping

    It's important to have some sort of order and indexing method for keeping your family records.  If not, you'll never be able to out the pieces of the puzzle together.
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The Irish records are very difficult to find as many were destroyed during the 'Troubles'.  However, the English and Scottish records are excellent and well worth the subscription to "Ancestry.com" to be able to freely search them and access copies at a reasonable cost.  First of all, there are lots of excellent free resources used by genealogists - here is a small selection:

  • www.freebmd.org.uk for some birth, marriage and death indexes for England and Wales..
  • www.familysearch.org for the vast international genealogy website run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • www.rootsweb.com for genealogy chat and all kinds of relevant information.


None of these is guaranteed to hold all the records that you want or to be totally reliable. So, to start from the very beginning, which sites do you absolutely need in order to build your family tree, and how can you tell where to put your money?
Here are some examples of pay-for sites for basic genealogy:

  • www.genesreunited.co.uk - contains (among much else) birth, marriage and death indexes and census returns for England and Wales
  • www.familyrelatives.com - contains (among much else) birth, marriage and death indexes and census returns for England and Wales
  • www.ancestry.co.uk - contains (among much else) birth, marriage and death indexes and census returns for Scotland, England and Wales
  • www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk - contains (among much else) birth, marriage and death indexes for Scotland and digitised images of many of the certificates and census returns for Scotland.
  • www.findmypast.co.uk - contains (among much else) birth, marriage and death indexes and census returns for England and Wales.


Often there is a free trial period for subscription sites so you can decide if it really is for you.
Often when you look at a record on a subscription site, you can return to it for free for a period of time - but make sure you get a print out of the searches you have done, along with the results.
Here are some examples of pay-for sites used by genealogists researching specialist information:

  • http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline - this contains wills, the World War I Campaign Medal index, several collections of naval records and much more.
  • http://www.originsnetwork.com - this contains numerous specialised records relating to British genealogy, including wills, apprenticeship records, military records and marriage indexes.
  • http://archive.timesonline.co.uk - the Times Digital Archive, which can be searched from 1785-1985, is a great place to find ancestors who were sufficiently well-to-do, famous or notorious to get themselves a mention.

And remember that there are some great specialist sites that are available for free. One of the most popular among genealogists is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, where you can find details of servicemen and women who died during the two World Wars: http://www.cwgc.org


There is a purpose to our research

    "You are our living link to the past. Tell your grandchildren the story of the struggles waged, at home and abroad. Of sacrifices made for freedom's sake. And tell them your own story as well — because[everybody] has a story to tell." George H.W. Bush
 
In a complex, mobile society like ours, life's tapestry gets shredded. The continuity of our lives is ripped by transience and fragmentation. Community is fragile, torn, scattered. Our need to examine and to share our stories is vital--for our own mental health, for our relationships and our cohesiveness in community, and for the good of a future that can learn from our past.Dolly Bertholot
 

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