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Finding people the right way

Family Tree Tracing

Tracing living or dead relatives is an exciting and rewarding hobby. It can also save you a considerable amount of money if you are researching for probate or others reasons connected to inheritance laws.

Tracing ancestors can be very rewarding and enjoyable but be careful you do not duplicate work because you have not carried out the basics needed to prepare a really accurate family tree.

Before you get started write down all the details you can about your family. This will include yourself and your immediate family such as your parents, children, grandchildren, siblings and their families.

You never know what information will come in useful in your research so get into the habit of taking notes. It is also important to make sure these notes are organised, so try to keep them separate for each family member.

It is easier to work methodically from a fact such as the date of birth or a marriage of a relative rather than a person you do not know much about. Begin with the youngest members of your family, including any children and grandchildren you may have and then move on to your parents and grandparents.

There are many good books, websites and magazines devoted to tracing people. Your local library will have a selection of titles and dedicated magazines have tips as well as accounts of records and sources.

Be Your Own Private Detective

It’s worth checking if anyone else is doing research into your family before you start. Your local family history society may hold talks and have useful indexes to help you.

Ask relatives what they remember about their families. Stories and memories from older family members will be crucial in helping to start your research. Make notes of any nicknames or name changes, family stories, what your ancestors did for a living and what they looked like.

Look through old family letters, photographs, heirlooms, medals and anything else hidden away in the attic. Be aware there may be conflicting stories about events, so watch out for family myths and never take anything at face value. Check and double check all information gleaned from open sources like newspapers etc. Where did your ancestors live and when? What did your ancestors do with their lives? Finding answers to these key questions will help you build up the story. Your family history will be drawn from a variety of sources.

To help find out about members of your family who were in the armed forces, you’ll need to search a variety of places. War memorials, souvenirs brought home from the front, medals and military uniforms will all help piece the puzzle together.

You can also get clues on where your ancestors were based by searching through old newspapers and letters, paying particular attention to the postmark. Finally, stories handed down through the family will point you in the right direction.

Research on the Intenet

The internet can be a useful tool for contacting relatives and finding data. Many websites can help you start your family history.

Using any known details, including name, date or place of birth and occupation, you can search through birth, marriage and death records, census transcripts, parish records, trade directories, land-owner and military records, electoral rolls, wills as well as popular institutional and Non-Conformist records for over 500 million names as far back as the 12th century.

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