• 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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    Family History for Beginners

    DIY for you to trace your own family history.
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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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What Should You Ask?

Armed with what you do know, then start asking questions. Genealogists can put reporters to shame. After all, we want to know everything.

  • Talk to your parents and your grandparents. Write to them or call them.
  • Write to and call your cousins, aunts, and uncles.
  • Interview those people who lived near your family, and don't forget old family friends.

Learn to ask the right questions. If you ask Uncle Fred to "tell me everything you know", he may side-step you by responding that he can't remember anything. Ask specific questions that jog the memory. Whenever possible, show old photographs of people and places.


Names. Dates. Places.  While it is important to ask the basic questions about the whens and wheres of births, marriages, and deaths, you can sometimes get more information from relatives by asking about other aspects of their life.

Here are some questions that will help you get more than just names, dates, and places:

  • Who were you named for?
  • Did your grandmother tell you any special stories?
  • Who was your best friend and what did you like to do together?
  • Where did you go to school?
  • What was your favorite holiday? Why?
  • Were you in the military?
  • Have you done any traveling? Where did you go? Who with?
  • What was your first home or apartment like?
  • What do you remember about the houses you lived in?
  • What was your relationship like with your mother/father/sister/brother?
  • How did the family earn money? Who worked?
  • What were the most outstanding family characteristics?
  • Any diseases that run in the family?
  • Was there a black sheep in the family?
  • Can you fill in the blanks on this chart? 

More oral history questions to ask.

  1. Be sure to write down the answers. If your relative doesn't object, audio or video taping would be even better. However, this sometimes makes a person self-conscious and they may not be as forthcoming, but usually they will forget all about it within a few minutes.
  2. Prepare for an interview by making notes in advance about the questions you want to ask and by being somewhat familiar with the family you will be asking questions about.
  3. Inquire regarding:
    • Home and community life. "What do you remember about the houses you lived in?"
    • Personalities and relationships. What was your relationship like with your mother/father/sister/brother?
    • Economic conditions. How did the family earn money? Who worked?
    • Family characteristics. What were the most outstanding family characteristics. Any diseases that run in the family? Was there a black sheep in the family?
    • Family Facts. Try to fill in the blanks on your Pedigree Charts and Family Group Records.


News Flash

Convict Ancestors Case Study now available.

Edmund (Ned) Collins 1817-1862

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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