A Happy New Year to all my readers.
For a fantastic way to kick off 2020. I have a guest post from a friend BM; he’s a real family history guru who has a wealth of experience and knowledge. He’s done extensive searches into my family history and uncovered fascinating facts about my relatives.
I understand more now about the lives they led and the hardships they endured in their daily existence. So, read on and uncover your own family’s secrets….
A new hobby for a new year- a simple guide to family history.
Have you ever watched a programme on TV about someone’s family history and thought I wish I could do that but it looks too complicated?
Well you can start it in a few easy steps. When you have got into family history; you’ll find it so interesting that the impetus will spur you on.
Write down everything you know and arrange it in an easy to refer to format.
Speak to your relatives to see what they know or can find out for you.
At this stage just make notes of any interesting stories that come up – you can pursue these later.
Make a note of any discrepancies without questioning them too -these can also be followed up later.
Your ultimate aim is to reach back in your family tree to about 1911 as useful records are available up to this date.
You can access census records online via a subscription website such as Ancestry, Find My Past or The Genealogist.
Some of these are also available from many library authorities.
They have a wide range of resources including the censuses which for England and Wales for example date back every ten years from 1911 to 1841. Other nations feature as well e.g. the United States and Scotland.
With luck these will allow to compile family groups back to the beginning of the Victorian period.
Repeat step 3 each time clarifying and checking what you know and using whatever relevant resources you can- not only from the internet but physical ones as well.
Find out about the areas your ancestors lived in and the types of lives they led which will help to explain much of what you find. There are many websites and magazines which can aid you.
You can also go down the route of DNA testing to find modern day relatives.
I hope this will introduce you to a hobby which millions of people are becoming fascinated by.
I’ve found researching my own family story helps you to understand your place in the world and the things that have come to be; as we are at a time when identity has become so important.
Great post BM. Maybe you can do a follow up sometime with details of relatives stories you have uncovered? Thanks Nick.