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Advice on Tracing your Family Tree

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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!
    Support CHAS the Children's Hospice Association Scotland

  • #2
    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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    • #3
      Applied Blutak - thread now stickified.

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      • #4
        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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        • #5
          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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          • #6
            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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            • #7
              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

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by georgekidd View Post
                but you keep doing what you think is right
                Exactly!

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                • #9
                  ok Ryan, I get it, you don't think my advice is any good. However, instead of just slagging it off (which makes you nothing more than a pathetic troll) how about you offer different advice. After all, I did say in the beginning:

                  ... and anyone that has tried different methods (or even know of other sites) could put forward what has worked for them...
                  So put your suggestions forward... but remember you need to aim it at everyone, not just a select few who probably don't need advice from anyone!

                  (As for you georgekidd, butt out! )

                  Anyway, back to the topic, here's some advice I found from another source:

                  Start your family tree with the youngest members You just need pen and paper. Sketch out a rough plan of what you know about your family, following the pattern of the Hall family tree at the beginning of this article.

                  Place your immediate family at the start of your family tree, and work from there, with what you already know before doing any research at all. Start with yourself, your children or your grandchildren - it is usual to start with the youngest members. Then work through your siblings and their children, and then your parents. Thereafter, you will be working backwards through time.
                  It then sets out the following tasks:

                  1. The first task that faces every family historian when they begin research into an individual is to collect basic biographical details about the person under investigation. The events that are shared by everyone - birth and death - are the best place to start. In many cases marriage will also be on the list. By compiling a skeleton of facts centred on these events from legal or parish records you can then continue to flesh out other aspects of that individual's history.

                  2. When starting to create your own family tree, the first thing is to talk to as many family members as possible. This way you can obtain the crucial first-hand accounts, memories and stories that will set you on your way, especially from older generations.

                  3. Once you have collected as much background information as possible, you are ready to start searching for more concrete evidence. You will be looking at birth, death and marriage certificates, parish records, and wills left by your ancestors - among other things. Most of your research will take place in archives, local studies libraries or specialist family history centres.

                  4. Once you have registered as a user at your chosen archive or records office, read the relevant information leaflets before you start work. Your first port of call should be the enquiry desk. Summarise what information you want - be it a birth certificate, record of baptism or a will - and who the person is that interests you. This way you will probably receive a much clearer answer than if you fall into the trap of recounting your entire family history.

                  5. There are many established professional organisations for genealogists of all levels of experience. One of the most important is the Society of Genealogists, which maintains a vast library of research material and publications from around the world. It also runs lectures and provides research advice for beginners.

                  6. The internet is a major source of information for family historians. Here you'll find advice about how to get started, and sometimes useful pre-researched data. Many genealogists use the net to share their research results.
                  Although these are just the introductory paragraphs to each section, at no point did I see any need for a computer system to record anything... people can use one if they want, but it doesn't have to be anything too complicated!

                  Anyway, its a site worth checking out (as would other sites that offer similar advice). And one piece of advice that it offers that is worth repeating yet again is:

                  Check source of internet data and its validity
                  Family History Scotland also provide a guide on How to Trace your Family History in Scotland... and funnily enough it also suggests starting off by using pen and paper!
                  Last edited by ScotSites; 5th February 2008, 09:32.
                  Support CHAS the Children's Hospice Association Scotland

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                  • #10
                    scotsite wrote
                    (As for you georgekidd, butt out! )
                    Oh how rude

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                    • #11
                      Ya wee Stirrer, you.

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                      • #12
                        who me

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                        • #13
                          Naw, the big boy ahent you that's jist rin awa'.!

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                          • #14
                            Reply to a few posts here !!!!

                            I go away for a few days and come back to see the same two posters sniping at each other all over the place

                            I think I am going to have to put you in a room together to sort out your differences

                            Instead of having a go at each other whenever you can why don't you try and work alongside each other.


                            A better comment from Ryan would have been..........although I do not agree with all you have said you do
                            have some good points in your post, and then added some points of your own !!

                            Also if comments are going to be quoted please copy the whole comment...

                            Another thing.....telling someone to 'butt out' is not good !!

                            I can see all posters in this thread are strong people......their ideas are good but please work together.

                            I have not had time to read anymore of the threads concerning Family Trees but will do so as soon as I
                            can, I have a feeling that you are both doing your own threads to score points off of each other....if
                            this is the case I will consider amalgamating threads and you can either work together or not(as the case may be).

                            Multiple threads on the same thing is SPAM !!!!

                            If SS and Ryan have issues I suggest that they take them to mail and failing that ask for admin help
                            because all this sniping and name calling has to cease !!

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                            • #15
                              Babz, this topic was not started to score points off anyone... my reasoning for starting it was to put forward for discussion what I considered to be a reasonable approach to people starting to research their family tree. I do admit that I read a certain child's (not that I realised he was a child at the time) great guide and thought it wasn't very good (and yes, that is me putting it very mildly). So the way I see it is this topic should not be merged with any other. However, the two topics started by the child definitely should be as they are about exactly the same thing and therefore would be considered spam!

                              As for me telling georgekidd to butt out... maybe I should have done that in person (and next time I will! )
                              Support CHAS the Children's Hospice Association Scotland

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