For those of you who are new to family history, here are a few basic tips:
- Record everything you already know. You are the starting point to your history, so start your research with your immediate family i.e. spouse, siblings, parents, etc. Look for birth, marriage and death certificates, family photos. and anything else that may be in that shoe-box upstairs!
- Encourage your relatives to talk about their lives and their family. Glean as much as you can from them, but little and often is probably better than a day’s ‘grilling’! Offer to copy photographs, etc. Feeding back your findings regularly can also trigger reminiscences and help to resurrect memories long forgotten.
- Write everything down in a coherent way, so that you can understand it later! Investing in a family history computer package is a great help, as this organises your information for you. All the family history magazines have adverts for different ones, but ask members which ones they have found the most useful or the easiest to use. Functionality and cost varies widely - there are even some good packages that are free - but in the end it comes down to personal taste.
- If you are on the internet there are a whole host of websites to search for information. A few are listed on the Useful Links area of this website.
- Join your local Family History Society! Also consider joining societies in the areas where your ancestors came from. You may find other people are working in areas which link to your interests.
- Don’t give up if you hit a ‘brickwall’. It happens to everyone and the best approach is to share your problem. New avenues for exploration can come from the most unexpected sources, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your local Family History Society is a key resource for this.
- WARNING. Researching your family history can become highly addictive and can consume a lot of your time and attention. Beware of becoming a family history ‘bore’ and remember that your friends and family might want to talk about other things. Group therapy for your addiction is readily available at your local Family History Society!