Getting Started in Family History

I often have people say to me that they would like to research their family tree, but don't know how to get started. So i thought i would share how i got going in the hope that it will help others:-
1. Start with yourself and what you know. Write down your Birth date and place, and the date and place you got married. Next write down the same information for your parents - include the places and dates that anyone may have died. Do the same for your grandparents, and so on as far back as you know / can remember. If you aren't sure on any of them, then put your best guess.
2. Sign-Up for the 14-Day trial at (there is a banner link if you go back to the Home page of this site) and enter all the information you wrote down in step 1 - you should then start to find hints that lead you further back. I did this and found so much information in just those 2 weeks. If you don't want to subscribe to ancestry then just make sure you cancel the trial the day before it runs out - its pretty painless to do.
3. Use free sites such as freebmd to help verify information and find further information.
4. Read publications - I picked up a copy of "Who Do You Think You Are?" Magazine which was full of great tips and was so impressed i took out a subscription. There are also plenty of books on the subject.
5. Google names! You'll be surprised how much information you can find on the net on your ancestors just by googling a name. Make sure you try all sorts of combinations e.g. with middle names, without middle names, with initials, surname first, etc. Also try combining names with places, jobs, or dates.
6. Subscribe to the Lost Cousins Newsletter. Even if you don't want to use the Lost Cousins website (though i highly recommend it), it is worth registering for free and signing up for the regular newsletter (or read it online here). Published fortnightly by Peter Calver, it gives invaluable tips, informs of new genealogical developments, and tells of plenty of ways to save money (especially discount codes or ways to get money off sites like ancestry and findmypast)!
7. If you hit a brick wall, don't give up - keep searching and trying new ideas, look at name variations or think about what mistakes someone might have made entering a name, or ask someone that you know who has more experience in Family History (me for instance...see the services page for details) to take a look for you - it sometimes needs a fresh pair of eyes.
Hopefully this advice will have got you started and perhaps hooked by the time you've found more information on your Family name - welcome to the world of Genealogy

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by Wayne Farmer