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Beginner's Guide
You Are Here: UKAncestor.com - Family History - Beginner's Guide

 

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Where do I begin?

It may sound obvious, but begin with what is already available to you; memories, living relatives and family documents.  Make a list of all your living relatives, then list all of the family members you remember as a child but have since passed away.  Now use the names to put together a basic family tree, adding any birth dates etc that are known to you.  Ask any living relatives to help you and see if they can add any names you may have left out.  Look through any old documents and photos you may have and see if you can add more relatives to the tree.  Ask your relatives to do the same, as they may have inherited some documents or photos.


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How do I obtain a birth, marriage or death certificate? 

To get your family tree further back you will need to obtain copies of your ancestors birth and marriage certificates.  Death certificates can also be obtained, and are quite interesting, although they are not normally required in order to get further back in time.  Work backwards, as the information on a marriage certificate should allow you to search for a birth registration.  The civil registration of BMD began in England & Wales, in  July 1837.  Indexes of which can be searched in the Family Records Center.  The indexes are in bounded volumes arranged in four quarterly volumes; March, June, September & December.  The reference numbers obtained from these indexes can then be used to order copies of the certificates.  Information on finding and obtaining these certificates can be found at The Public Record Office's Website.


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What is the census & how do I find my relatives on it?

The census is a wonderful resource for family historians, providing an insight into how our ancestors used to live.  A census has been taken every 10 years since 1841, except during the Second World War.  The censuses are withheld from the public for 100 years.  They give details relating to all the members of every household and give useful information such as relationship to the head of the household, occupation, age and place of birth.  Census copies can be viewed at the FRC.  You can find your ancestors on the 1881 census by using a surname index.  To find them on the other Census transcripts you may be able to search for a known address, otherwise you'll have to search for them in every household.  The 1881 Census has been fully indexed and is available on CD ROM form The Church of Jesus Christ of LDS, who have also released the 1851 Census for Devon, Norfolk & Warwick on CD ROM.  Partial surname indexes for the censuses have also been published on the internet.


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I've got as far back as I can using the GRO Certificates.  What do I do now?

For research prior to 1837 you will need to refer to Parish Records, which can normally be found in county record offices.  From these you should be able to obtain dates for baptisms, marriages and burials.  Many local family history societies have published transcripts of their local parish records, which is very useful if you are unable to travel to the parish in question.  Family Search, has published millions of baptism and marriage records on the internet.


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Why use the Internet?

The internet is a great resource for family historians.  Using online forums such as our own Forums, you can communicate informally with other researches who have similar interests.  You can visit websites dedicated to a particular surname or search for your ancestors on one of a growing number of indexes.


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