• 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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Family documents include certificates of birth, christening, marriage, divorce, and death. These may be extended to include military papers, old land deeds, copies of census reports, naturalization papers, etc. Letters, postcards, and old photos may also provide clues to an ancestor's whereabouts at a given time. They also augment our understanding of the lives these people led. This makes your family history "come alive!"

It is one thing to collect these precious documents, but it is quite another to arrange them sensibly. If you are just starting out go here for an explanation of your first steps.
File folders suffice until the day one is dropped, spilling the contents in a dishevelled heap. Besides, if a birth certificate mentions both the father's surname and the mother's maiden name, whose surname folder should hold the document? Duplicates for both files run up the cost not to mention doubling the file space.

Acid-free document folders of top-loading sheet protectors provide an excellent alternative. They are portable and easily read. The documents can be handled without fear of deterioration. Pages of various sizes can be made uniform. Do not tape smaller documents to a piece of A4 paper.  Tape causes documents to deteriorate faster. Merely place the document in a sheet protector, with an acid-free page of paper to separate it from the reverse side document.

As for filing the documents in an understandable order, use a numbering system. As each document is received, it is put in the next page protector and given the next available number. Notation of that number is made on ALL family group sheets it documents. For the birth record mentioned above, notations should be made in the following places on family group sheets:

    1.    individual - where he/she is a child
    2.    individual - where he/she is a spouse
    3.    father - where he is listed as spouse
    4.    mother - where she is listed as spouse

As folders become full, another is added. Some people suggest keeping all like documents in a single notebook. This involves using more folders, however, all the census records would be found in one folder, separate from the birth records or the marriage records, etc.

Although much has been written giving suggestions for organizing your documentation, it ultimately remains your choice. After all, it is YOUR family history. Please remember that others need to readily identify your method of organization. They need to distinguish between known and proven ancestors and names of "potential" ancestors whose relationship you have not yet determined. No matter what organizational system you use, be sure to label known ancestors and relatives clearly and keep "potential" ancestors in a separate area altogether!

Documents support the family relationships that a genealogist traces. Without documentation, the family history is reduced to nothing but hearsay evidence. People who read a family history need to know exactly:

    1.    Which sources have been searched even if nothing was found, and
    2.    which sources have been searched with a copy of the document included in the family history.

As time goes by, more documents are becoming available through the use of indexes, microfilm/fiche and computers. Additional information may come to light to prove or disprove previous research. Citing the sources and maintaining good document files are therefore essential activities of a good genealogist. Apply the detail carefully. 

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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