Tracing your Family Tree.
One of the aims of this sight is to encourage you to
trace and record your family tree. This can seem a daunting task to anyone who
has never done it before. The object of the next few pages is to help you get
started with the help of the internet.
There are so many books written and web pages dedicated to the subject that it may seem unnecessary to repeat advice here but if you are like me, once you have decided to do something you want to do it now and having to wade through book lists and web pages to find the information most helpful to you often puts you off starting at all.
My aim is to give you enough information in the next few pages to enable you to start now! HOWEVER, to trace and record your family tree properly you should verify all the information you find online by looking at or obtaining copies of the original documents, but don't let this stop you trying to trace your tree solely from the internet. Its fun and it will wet your appetite for digging deeper, including collecting copies of the original documentation.
The availablility of digitised images of an amazing variety of useful documents has increased dramatically in the last 10 years. These include records of births, deaths, and marriages, census returns from 1841 to 1901, ships passenger lists and much more. All available on the internet. Unfortunately it is not all free, however if you pick your websites well it does not have to cost you lots of money either.
The secret is to know what you are looking for, where to look, and how to find it. I hope these pages will help you get started.
1. What do you already know?
Write down everything you know about your existing family, Include dates of birth (DOB), where they were born, dates and places of any marriages. Fathers and Mothers full name and Mothers maiden name, and any nick names they may have had. There were many men born as William but were always known as Bill, and Johns known by everyone as Jack. What work did they both do? Were either of them in the armed services and if so what was their Service Number. Write down any family stories they told you about their families and their parents and then record everything you know about your grandparents in the same way. Did they always live in the same place of did they move from somewhere else in the country. Gather together family pictures!
2. Talk to other members of your family.
Arrange to go and talk to any aunts and uncles and cousins that you may have. Ask the same question about their parents, checking what you already think you know and recording anything new. Ask them if they know any other relatives. They may know of some you have never heard of before. Make sure that anyone you were brought up to call Aunt or Uncle are really family. In my family, long standing friends of my parents became honourary aunts and uncles.
3. Draw a simple family tree
From the information you already have, draw a simple family tree. If you have already completed tasks 1 and 2 above you will already know that there are some holes in you knowledge. You do not have all the answers for everybody. Its probably information about your grandparents.
4. Its time to search the internet!
First, two general websites;
For general information and guidence on researching your Slingsby family roots and for links to resources in the whole of the UK and Ireland visit "Geneology in the UK and Ireland" ( www.genuki.org.uk.) Its free! It will provide you with local knowledge for every county giving details of where the local records offices are; how to contact local family history societies etc. I would love to give you lots of examples of what this site provides but they have such a threatening breach of copyright statement I am too frightened to even copy out the list of information available for Yorkshire even though I would be providing the information to encourage you to visit the site!! So you need to discover it for yourself.
One of the most famous family history sites is Cyndi's list ( www.cyndislist.com ). It is run by Cyndi Howells an American Geneologist. As I write this it claims 264,400+ links for family history. This site will provide you with every site you will ever need, however there are some drawbacks. Firstly its so huge that it is often very difficult to find what you want. There are links to sites covering every aspect of genealogy and many that are not, including scripting languages needed to produce websites like this one. So when you find a useful site on Cyndislist make a note of where you found it just in case you need to find it or something similar again! You may not be able to find it a second time! :-) Secondly, it is an American site so there is a tendancy to view genealogy from an American perspective however don't let this put you off there are plenty of links to UK sites. This is a site to explore on a wet Sunday afternoon.
Looking at Census records
The first place to look for many people are the Census records. You can start by testing the information you have already written down. If you know your grandfather was living in Bury, Lancashire in 1901 then check the online Census to see if it was true. Census' were taken in England and Wales every 10 years from 1841 to the present day, and the information they contain is available once it is 100 years old. So the latest Census available is 1901. The 1911 Census will be made available some time in 2012. There are a number of commercial subscription web sites that will give you access to Census information. I use www.ancestry.co.uk and www.genesreunited.com but there are other sites which I will list later. For sites like Ancestry.com and Genesreunited you pay a one off annual subscription and in return have unlimited access to all the records they have available. They don't just give you access to a large amount of information but are also geneologists networking sites containing a lot of information and family trees already researched by others. There is also www.findmypast.co.uk and for Scottish Census information there is www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk both of which are purely "gateways" to data For free access to a transcribed copy of these records you can use www.familysearch.org . This site belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints who hold a huge amount of family information world wide. However because the information is transcribed (copied) it is liable to error.
www.findmypast.com provides access to theGRO (General Register office) Indexes from 1837 - 2005. Not only can you look up births deaths and marriages in the UK but they also hold information about many (but not all) of UK subjects who were born, married or died abroad between 1761 and 1994.
To be continued
Click on "Internet Geneology Resourses " here or on the menu button to the left for a portal to the above sites and more.