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Advice on Tracing your Family Tree

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Old 4th February 2008, 11:41
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ScotSites ScotSites is offline
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Advice on Tracing your Family Tree

(Admin/Mods can you make this a sticky?)

I'm not proclaiming to be an expert on this subject, but I think a topic where advice can be offered on how to trace your family tree (as opposed to finding specific members of your family) would be worthwhile! What I offer below is some of the steps I have used and anyone that has tried different methods (or even know of other sites) could put forward what has worked for them!

Anyway, step 1 for tracing your family tree is to talk to as many members of your family as you can. The reasons for this are:

1. who knows your family better than your own family;
2. some of the records you need (e.g. birth, marriage and death certificates) might be held by one of your family members;
3. someone in your family may already have started doing some research and their notes may prove useful (or it could give you another direction to follow).

The next step is to note down EVERYTHING and start to build a basic tree. The simplest way to do this is to use good old paper and pen/pencil... there is no need at this early stage to resort to any fancy computer systems, but if you do a basic word processing tool (like notepad) and a spreadsheet will be sufficient. (You might even be able to download a family tree template for the spreadsheet depending on which one you use; you certainly can for excel!)

Once you have the above it might be worthwhile choosing a branch of your family to concentrate on; if you get stuck somewhere along the way you can then start on another branch and return to your original branch at a later time. Also, while searching for relatives, try not to stick to the one spelling of a name - especially as you go further back in your research!

Once you have traced back a few generations (probably at least to your great grandparents) you'll be ready to use other resources available, such as record offices (like the General Register Office in Scotland). You can also check out various genealogy websites/forums, but be aware that there may be a cost to retrieving some information AND always double check what you get! Some of the sites I have personally used (with varying levels of success) are as follows:

* Official government source for Scottish genealogy, census and family research - ScotlandsPeople
* Family Search
* Genes Reunited
* Genealogy and Family History Records - Ancestry.co.uk

There are plenty more sites out there, some of which are specific to a particular name. Where the sites have forums, ask questions... but always be polite as people generally won't respond to rudeness or arrogance (at least not in a helpful way). Also remember that some of the info you might be looking for can only be found at a cost, so don't expect anyone to do any free research on your behalf.

During all your research probably the main point is taking notes... and lots of notes! And try to avoid my one main downfall... messy handwriting that even you can't understand!

Anyway, if anyone has anything to add to this feel free!
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Old 4th February 2008, 12:50
Polwarth Polwarth is offline
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Good idea, ScotSites, now we don't have to take it in turns to retype the information you have given in your opening post for this thread.

Admin/Mods - may I echo SS's request to make this a sticky.
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Old 4th February 2008, 17:54
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Applied Blutak - thread now stickified.
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Old 5th February 2008, 00:46
Ryan3932 Ryan3932 is offline
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Celyn, no offence, but you must have been stoned when you stickied this. It needs to be completely re-written (mine does too, but am doing that later today)

I will even admit (even though it pains me to say) that the above guide has merit but it is not something I would even consider to use if I was forced by gunpoint! If you really want a good guide, just do what you yourself think is a good idea. Some things apply to some people and other things don't apply to the same people.

Anybody who further reads this guide and/or mine. Ignore both in part, but take bits and pieces of information that you think is needed. (Even if they are re-written, depending on how they are re-written)
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Old 5th February 2008, 01:08
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan3932 View Post
Celyn, no offence, but you must have been stoned when you stickied this. It needs to be completely re-written (mine does too, but am doing that later today)

I will even admit (even though it pains me to say) that the above guide has merit but it is not something I would even consider to use if I was forced by gunpoint! If you really want a good guide, just do what you yourself think is a good idea. Some things apply to some people and other things don't apply to the same people.

Anybody who further reads this guide and/or mine. Ignore both in part, but take bits and pieces of information that you think is needed. (Even if they are re-written, depending on how they are re-written)

No, I most certainly was not. (Chance would be a fine thing. ) I think that a sticky thread with some of the basic links that are often needed in response to new visitors to the board is quite a good thing. And it can, of course, have additions and revisions, just as the O.P. suggested.

I can assure you, however, that I am most unlikely to ask anyone to do anything at gunpoint. We have laws against that sort of thing, doncha know?
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Old 5th February 2008, 01:18
Ryan3932 Ryan3932 is offline
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Exclamation

You make a good point and have changed my view, but what he is suggesting about starting with pen & paper, maybe for noted if you don't happen to have your computer with you. And the way he has been acting on the forums, it's crazy, he tells everyone at the start of this guide that his guide isn't the best and he is no expert in the field, but he has been spamming my posts telling me I am rude, full of crap, and that I have written a really bad guide and that you should use his because it's so much better.

Regards,
Ryan
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Old 5th February 2008, 01:31
georgekidd georgekidd is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan3932 View Post
You make a good point and have changed my view, but what he is suggesting about starting with pen & paper, maybe for noted if you don't happen to have your computer with you. And the way he has been acting on the forums, it's crazy, he tells everyone at the start of this guide that his guide isn't the best and he is no expert in the field, but he has been spamming my posts telling me I am rude, full of crap, and that I have written a really bad guide and that you should use his because it's so much better.

Regards,
Ryan

Ryan dont take offence to SS as he is rude to nearly everyone... im surprised thay haven't kicked him off this site as yet.... but you keep doing what you think is right
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