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Advice on Tracing your Family Tree

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  • #16
    I don't think anyone here realised that Ryan was a wee laddie when the stooshie first started.


    • #17
      erm keep me out of the arguements I was only sticking up for Ryan against you lot....


      • #18
        Originally posted by Babz View Post
        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 !!
        Yeah, but, I already said that I had stopped.

        And what's with "child" and "wee laddie" that makes me feel like a shy little two-year old, plus it's degrading!

        Anyways, I must be on my way now.



        • #19
          At 13, that's what we would call you 'a wee laddie'.


          • #20
            Now that all the bickering is out of the way I am going to repeat my first post in this topic. If anyone has any further suggestions then feel free to add them...

            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 -

            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!

            Further suggestions can be found on Family History Scotland and the BBC's tips on starting your research!
            Support CHAS the Children's Hospice Association Scotland


            • #21
              Have to say my dad started our family tree using the old pen and paper, when he got more
              computer literate he copied it all onto his computer, he also uses the census disks of which he has quite a few!!
              He found that Brothers Keeper was the best thing to store it on and now the rest of the family
              have a copy and use it to update their families

              PS....There is a guy near me about 85 years old calls everyone 'young laddie' to him they are young


              • #22
                Add Cyndi's List, and RootsWeb.



                • #23
                  Originally posted by Ryan3932 View Post
                  These are two sites that I have looked at, but so far never used. However, if anyone does decide to use them there is one piece of advice that is worth repeating: always double check what you get!
                  Support CHAS the Children's Hospice Association Scotland


                  • #24
                    Rootsweb isn't too bad


                    • #25
                      Anyway, with regard to genealogy software, Rootsweb lists the following:

                      Brother's Keeper
                      Family Tree Maker
                      Lifelines (Unix)
                      Personal Ancestral File (PAF)
                      Reunion (Macintosh)
                      The Master Genealogist (TMG)

                      More details can be found in RootsWeb's Guide to Tracing Family Trees!
                      Last edited by kathyv; 6th February 2008, 23:14. Reason: removing quote from already demed unnecessary post. . . less confusion that way!
                      Support CHAS the Children's Hospice Association Scotland


                      • #26
                        Researching family history

                        Hi Folks,
                        I'm just a newbie to this list but have some experience of researching family history. (Some people distinguish the compilation of family trees - genealogy - from family history, which seeks a fuller picture of one's ancestry.)

                        All the advice so far is great.

                        Can I make a plea for the exercise of critical faculties in researching family? Every source should be treated as suspect. Even official records can be wrong, as the large number of corrections suggests. Family too. And especially the LDS records on Familysearch. Too many people just take the LDS data - usually the IGI (International Genealogical Index) - and put it somewhere like genesreunited, and then others lift it, and so on. I've found innumerable mistakes on genereunited, etc. So many, I don't usually bother notifying the owners anymore. In short, everything should be checked against another source, if possible, and sources should be noted.

                        For researching ancestors from 1855, when official registration of BDMs (births deaths, marriages) were introduced, to recent times, scotlandspeople can't be beat. Their indexing of women by the maiden names and married names seems inconsistent, but otherwise it's easy and relatively cheap to search for BDMs from 1855. Registration extracts cost 1 quid each, so the costs can mount, but it's fast and a lot cheaper than travelling around the world for someone in NZ like me.

                        I have through genesreunited found many distant relatives and have added many little bits to my family tree. It's worth joining for the first 6 months. But the tree-making program sucks (clumsy and tortuous) and the rampant capitalism grates. What an idea though - get zillions of genealogists to pay to put their own trees online so that they can connect with each other, and use this as an opportunity to on-sell. Clever!

                        Discussion forums on sites like and rootsweb used to be very useful, but seem to be becoming less used. Maybe everybodies headed to, genesreunited and so on.

                        Then there's google and, especially for the family historians, google books. If you are lucky and your ancestors were middle class or higher in the social orders, then there's a treasure trove awaiting, and it gets better by the day. You'll be surprised what comes up. Books like, Robertson, G. A Genealogical Account of the Principal Families in Ayrshire, More Particularly in Cunninghame, 1823 can now be read on-line. Tips: Use inverted commas for complete names, e.g., "Hamish McHamish" and or family names with the place where they lived and see what you get.

                        Enjoy! Cheers Peter
                        Last edited by jafapete; 19th February 2008, 19:55.


                        • #27
                          Family Ancestry

                          If I might interject a comment here: When I started working on Genealogy 18 years ago - I had someone tell me that I had to go backwards to go forward. The information available differes depending on which side of the pond you are on. The churches in most of Europe kept excelent records , however the churches on this side of the pond didn't keep such accurate records until probably in the early to mid 1800's - centralization of records didn't start in most states until the early 1920's - so there is a 200 year gap in some records.

                          The LDS center does indeed have millions up millions of records. I problem with trusting some of the data is that they have one of my great-great grandmothers listed as a child of her husband - and they have her 7 children listed as her brothers and sisters. She was 29 years younger than her husband.

                          ANotehr problem that I have with them is that they seem to want to "plug in" data : example there are 4 johns all born within 3 years of each other - so instead of puting all 4 johns in the proper family, they look at, say a 1850 sensus and find a child named John that belongs to Marvin - but the John that belongs to this Marvin was born in 1845 and is 5 - so they pick one and stick it in there -- when indeed they one that they just pludded in belongs to James in Adamsville - not Marvin in Smithville. If you get my drift here.

                          I have used them as a basis of possible information: I spend time going thrugh the cemeteries myself when I can and I send for printed documents when I can spare the extra funds -- Obit's: generally tell who the parents were, Siblings and if there are girls, they are usually listed with the last name of the Husband - Estate papers - Wills are the best source of info in most cases. Will's named the wife (if she is still alive) and normally the children. Any children left at home are usually listes as "Of the Home" the daughters are usually named with the last name of the husband may namet he son in law with the wofes name: Example Elizabeth, wife of Ducan MacRae - so now you have a married daughter and the name of the man that she married.

                          I don't know about the census records in Scotland but the Ceneus records in the U.S. really aren't of much use until 1860-

                          The other largest problem is teh naming of children: many names are not only repeated with the family : two cousins named Thomas or Elizabeth - but they continue to use the same names generation after generation:

                          Middle names: This is a good source for family connections ; many times a child (male or female) may carry the mothers maiden name or the maiden name of the mothers mother or the fathers mother - another good source to follow at times : Example: my Mary Daniel MacRae carried her daddies name Daniel as a middle name and an uncle Charles MacRae Gibson carried my grandmother maiden name of MacRae as his middle name. There are little tricks that you pick up the longer you "dig up bones" on paper.

                          If anyone would like to contact me and ask questions off line, I'd be more than glad to lend a helping hand if I can




                          • #28
                            COOL!! do not forget the dates problem

                            Yeh! PD I think I am here.

                            Don't forget the problem pf dates ie mom b. 1696 son b. 1656 - common sense??

                            Or how 'bout son b. 1555 m. (of parents) 1560 - aaaa I have my suspicions

                            Your friend form Texas.

                            Talk to U eMail


                            • #29
                              Writing things down may seem silly, but when my computer crashed with 15,000 names, it was only because I wrote things down and NEVER THREW ANYTHING AWAY, that I was able to rebuild my tree on a nother computer and another two independent sites.

                              What is not written by hand is copied and filed today. If starting out, make your file alphabetical and organize as you go. I got a filing cabinet four years after I really needed one and wished I had bought one at the outset, but one learns from one's mistakes and not everyone has room for a four drawer filing cabinet, but my research now needs that and more.

                              The home office is grateful for the Family History Department and its budget for the generous donation of office space and eternally free file folders.

                              WE can all learn from those who have experience beyond our own.


                              • #30
                                A bit o' noob

                                Being not only a noobie, but also an American - yes, "in search of his family Scottish ancestors" this topic is high on my list of grandfatherly interests.

                                A "wee" story in this regard:

                                Like most families and, I imagine, absent ANY sort of proof whatsoever it was passed from elders to sons and daughters that the BELL family were Irish. Turns out, we were somewhere in the vicinity of Ulster for a fairly short period of generations, having come thence from Scotland, and hence to the British Colonies further west - thereafter known as The United States (which have been Federalist and remain disunited since conception).

                                What little genealogy existed was written on paper in the ole familiar Family Tree format which took us back no further than the late 1700s in time and no more eastward than Virginia. Word of mouth being what it is, that was all we had to go by - that and the unstoppable resurgence of persons having decidedly RED hair being amongst us.

                                Whenever I did have the presence of mind to ask one of the elders, prior to their permanent involuntary membership in the choir eternal, they simply repeated what was on that tree, if they remembered that much. Were they alive today, then both sides might be more inclined to get serious about the matter.

                                Fast Forward to the 21st century and personal computers and - which I have labored with these past two months. To date, from the four inevitable stems my two daughters and I have entered in excess of 15,000 related and somewhat-related and not at all-related individuals stemming back from our bitty twigs to their stout limbs and branches as far as, in some cases, 5-8th century Europe and British Isles, etc.

                                The Bells remain a troublesome group, however. Yet, we've managed to follow the data base back to one Matthew Bell of Kirkconnel born in 1652, and joining the choir from Antrim in 1688. His son, also a Matthew Bell, was born Irish.

                                Assuming the veracity of's data and our attentiveness to details along the way, getting this far back as been a blessing.

                                Any opinion's o'er there in Scotland as to how reliable might be or not be in an endeavor such as ours?

                                I did, in fact, touch your soil one time in person - landing at Edinburgh on my way from London to Montreal in 1968.
                                "The hands are there for friendship, the heart is there for love. For loyalty throughout the years, the crown is raised above."