What you need.
notebook of reasonable size. Try to avoid loose papers since they rapidly
A pencil, sharpener,
eraser and ruler - no pens are allowed in record offices. Most Record Offices will allow you to use a laptop computer though and the associated technology with it:
- A camera is
useful in cemeteries and when visiting relatives who have documents/photographs
Today you'll find a digital camera a much better buy than those which use film.
- When copying documents a scanner is useful. I find the CanoScan LiDE 200 Scanner is small enough to be portable, powered by it's USB lead and quick to use.
- Tape recorders once useful in cemeteries and when talking to elderly relatives have now been replaced by the much smaller MP3 recorder. You may find that your digital camera can do this job.
To keep your
records, you could use a folder or large notebook but better still a computer
with suitable software.
File version 5 (PAF5) is recommended and can be downloaded free at http://www.familysearch.org
It even works fine with Windows 7. More on Genealogy software here
to the Internet is today essential, both as a source of information
and for exchange of information with the people already searching your
lines - you will find them.
If you employ
a professional, genealogist then expect to pay £200 and more.
You can pay
for someone to search the records for you. Professional record searchers
charge from £10 to £70 per hour.
If you buy
UK certificates, then these will cost you £7.00 to £10.00 each (£27.00
if you want them in a hurry).
If, after failing
to find a parish register or transcript elsewhere, you have to search the
parish registers at a church then the Vicar is entitled to charge you 30p
plus 15p per year searched. Remember church vestries are cold and sometimes
damp and vicars can stand over you impatiently.
If you ask
for a microfilm/microfiche to be ordered through your local branch of The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, then this will cost you about
£5 per film/fiche.
expenses need to be borne in mind - if you have to cross the Atlantic,
or travel across country, these can be considerable.
Today, much research is done online. You'll need to either pay for short or long term membership to view records. The table shows costs as of August 2009.
||What they offer
Beware of your
family name and heraldic shield of the type "send £50 and we will
send you. " type. For the most part, these are inaccurate and a waste of
money. The same is true of those '£5 for a printout of your family history of your surname' stalls so often found in shopping malls - nice to have but don't rely on it.
Make out a
family tree of your known relatives as far back as you know. This helps
to give you a clear idea of what you need to find out and who in your family
you can find this out from.
are descended from both your father and mother.
have two parents
great, great, great, grandparents (3g grandparents)
twenty-eight 5g grandparents and so on.
By the time
you have gone back ten generations, you will be looking for 1,024 ancestors
in this tenth generation.
An average woman
can have children (legally) between the age of 16 and 48.
age 55 and below 13 are unlikely. (OK, we know you can have children
at a much younger and later age now but this wasn't available to our ancestors.)
34 years of child bearing age on average, 42 years max.
If we assume
32 years between generations, then we get this:
of ancestors of a child born in 2000
date of parents birth
||Queen Elizabeth II
||Queen Elizabeth I
1552 you will have had to search out 32,766 ancestors.
you have 25 years between generations then by 1550 you would have had 18
generations and 524,287 ancestors to find. With 16 years between generations,
then by 1550, you would have 27 generations and 268,435,440 in the 27th
generation alone - more than the population of the world at that time!
Have a really
good look around at home for any of the following:
- old birth, marriage
and death certificates
- old letters
- old diaries
- photograph albums
- remove the pictures and look on the back
- portraits - again,
check the back
- post card albums
- scrap books
- news paper clippings
- family bible
- old wills
- old books - look
for a bookplate or inscription
- copies of family
- old notebooks
- birthday books
- old receipt books
- account books
- tontine or stock
and share certificates (A tontine was a partnership where the last surviving partner ended up owning the whole business)
- old property deeds
- estate maps
- bank books, old
life insurance policies
- family samplers
- funeral cards (sympathy
- deeds concerning
the upkeep of graves
- old medals or decorations,
certificates of armed forces service, trading company service
of these sources can give you valuable clues. Take for instance, this bookplate
from a book owned by my grandfather, Frederick George Chapman:
Freddie on your fourteenth birthday, 19 March 1907, from your loving Aunt
gives me my grandfather's date of birth and tells me, either his father
or his mother had a sister (possibly sister-in-law) called Esther. If you're
lucky, you many find dates on the back of photographs.,Sometimes a picture was sent as a postcard - check the post mark.
down what family traditions you know. At this point, consider talking to
elderly relations and making a tape recording of the interview. Often,
these relatives are a mine of information. They will often know of relations
unknown to you and who you can talk to and get information or records from.
Check to see if they have any items from the above list. Don't forget to
ask questions like:
- Where did the family
- Where did they
- Where are they
- What church did
they go to?
- What did they do
for a living?
- Who were the black
sheep of the family?
- Did any family
members emigrate? Where to?
- What was your father
- What were your grandparents like?
- Do you have any
- Did the family
have a lawyer?
can tell you a lot but, beware, often they may not be very accurate. In
my own family we had the following traditions
ancestor worked in a watermill in Durham City - true, Richard Wilson Chapman
was described as a Miller Journeyman at Durham on his son's birth certificate
was the fireman on the train which was involved in the Tay bridge disaster
- false but, he was a railway porter and may have seen the train off.
The family owned
Headlam Hall and ran a school there - almost true, John Chapman rented Headlam Hall
and ran a school there in 1805.
The family was
rich and were ruined when a Glasgow bank failed - true, My ancestor John
Marshall, a mill owner in Kirkaldy, Fifeshire, lost so much money they
had to flee to England to avoid creditors.
The family fortune
was held in Chancery - partly true, my 1st cousin 5 times removed, Rev.
Richard Thomas Wilson Taylor, Rector of St. Mewan in the County of Cornwall
left money in trust to the children of his mother's brother, Richard Wilson
of Kirkby Stephen, Westmoreland for his descendants. One of these children
was my 3rd Great Grandmother Sarah Wilson who married John Robinson Chapman
in 1818 at Kirkby Stephen.
The family owned
the Olwin Estate - true but the name was miss-spelt, At the time of his
death in 1849 my 4th great-grandfather John Chapman owned Alwent Hall Estate
(near Gainford, Durham).
Names in your family may give you clues. My grandfather bore the name Charles Gullon Marr, my grandmother the name Marion Bain Marshall. Long ago I found that in my grandfather's family a James Marr had married a Rachael Gullon. I haven't found a Bain in my grandmothers family but I'm sure I will one day. In my own case the middle name 'Robinson' survived five generations from Mary Robinson (born 1763) until it became my middle name.