Researching your Family History

Researching your family tree used to mean visiting your local library and wading through hundreds of microfiche to find what you wanted. Nowadays most of the information is online on web sites like Ancestry.com. You can also get a lot of information from other peoples family trees, including photographs. I would recommend getting Family Tree Maker, it links with Ancestry.com  and isn’t expensive. It makes it easier to merge information from others family trees.

To get started you need to get as much information as you can from parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Without this basic information you will not get very far.

First names, maiden names, brothers and sisters, where they may have been born, when and where they died, and their occupations.

These will all give you a clue that you are researching the correct family line.

I was speaking to a friend in Canada over Skype one evening, and I mentioned to him that I was researching my family tree. I had subscribed to Ancestry.com which enabled me to search and download records. My friend who is 79, gave me some information about his father and grandfather. Within a couple of hours I had been able to give him information regarding his ancestors as far back as 1800. He does have an unusual surname which made it easier, plus I do know my way around Ancestry.com pretty well, but it does show what can be achieved with the correct start up information.

All local libraries have Ancestry.com on their computers and you can use them free of charge for one hour per day. You need to book in advance and have as much information with you as possible. Decide before you go, what names you want to look up, because an hour soon disappears. Census documents, and lists of individuals basic details, can be printed off.

Census records are the place to start, because they list the members of a household on census day. They are held every 10 years, and have been in operation since 1801 although the useful information was not recorded until 1841.

The most recent Census records available, are for 1911, so you need at least one person in your family’s past, who may appear in that census. That way, you can find information on their parents and siblings, and work back from there.

You cannot access actual birth, death and marriage certificates online. You can search a name, and it will tell you the date, the birth marriage or death was registered. In the case of a marriage,it will usually show the spouses surname. Registration periods are every 3 months, so you will not normally get a specific date of birth or marriage, but death dates are usually more exact. The only exact information will come from the birth, marriage or death certificates. These can be up to £10.00 each and can be purchased online. It is cheaper to buy them from the Central Registry Office rather than from Ancestry.com and similar sites.

The Local History Centre has lots of useful information and Ancestry.com can be accessed from there also. They hold non computerised records of local tradesmen dating back to 1800’s. They also have old photographs and plans of Hull streets which can be searched for online prior to your visit. You can then request the items from the information you have recorded.