Tracing your family tree
Take up genealogy as a hobby and it might just spark imagination and adventure – have you ever wondered about your own family history?
While it’s common that noble families with stately homes keep an extensive archive of their family tree, for most of us we know little more than the names and details of the one or two generations that came before us. Genealogy is a wonderful way to trace your roots and uncover hidden facts you never knew before.
Before the internet there was little point researching your roots unless you were committed to spending months in an archive going through registers and reels of microfilm looking for details and clues such as birth and death certificates and marriage registers.
Happily, you can now undertake the whole project from the comfort of your own home on your sofa with little more than an iPad and internet connection.
As more and more records become digitised, it’s easier than ever to uncover the secrets of your family tree.
Want to give it a go yourself? Here’s a few apps, hints and tips to get you going.
At the very least you’ll need a notebook and large folder or binder to store details and notes as you begin your research. Make copies of important documents and find a way to order and organise everything in a way that makes sense to you.
Start with the living generation
There are more clues hidden with your living relatives than you might believe. Start your search by writing down the current generations of family members and everything you know about them. A simple voice recorder – or even better, voice recording app on your smartphone – will help you interview family members and gather essential information and record stories in their own words.
See what’s digital
Once you’ve filled as much of the family tree as possible on your own, the next step is to start accessing records. This is the moment online services like Ancestry really come into their own – for a reasonable subscription fee the service will provide you access to UK census records, birth, marriage and death indexes and even let you build your tree online. A premium membership also offers access to overseas records and worldwide emigration records, so you can continue to trace your relatives around the world.
Get some expert advice
If you’ve never undertaken such an extensive research project before, uncovering your family tree can feel daunting at first – luckily, there are dozens of excellent resources online to help you along and offer expert advice. The Who Do You Think You Are magazine website is a great place to start; there are guides to getting started, tutorials and a useful forum where you can ask questions and get tips from other members. The BBC also offers a useful online guide to tracing your family history, and covers everything from working in the archives to using libraries and creating timelines.
Have you ever tried tracing your family tree? Do you have any tips to share?
Silversurfer's Assistant Editor
Latest posts by Silversurfer's Assistant Editor (see all)
Leave a Comment!
Community Terms & Conditions
These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.
You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.
be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.
Contributions must not:
contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.
Nurturing a safe environment
Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.
We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!