According to statistics, researching genealogy on a home computer is the third most popular activity after shopping and…erm… porn.
And what is it that people hope to learn? For some it is collecting countless names with no real purpose other than to add them to a database.
While it’s interesting to know you can trace some of your ancestors to the 1500s, or beyond, it is satisfying to get to know something about the people who form your family line. Genealogy is about much more than a collection of names.
Take time to ‘round out’ the information you gather along the way – see your ancestors as real people who had lives beyond the family tree chart. You won’t find detailed info on all of them but I guarantee you’ll feel closer to those you do become acquainted with
Having decided which family line you’re going to research first – and assuming you don’t know these things already – your initial objective might be to find a marriage date, a maiden name or where a couple lived before and after they married.
As you see, in this game, you have to work backwards. Make a plan. Which records are most likely to help you find what you’re looking for? In the above scenario, for example, you might try the parish registers and most of these are kept in your local County Archives, what used to be called the Records Office.
An entry in a parish register can be as good as holding a copy of the marriage certificate and can tell you the date, bride’s maiden name, the couple’s occupations, and their fathers’ names and occupations. A good start
The parish register entry may also show the names of two people who witnessed the marriage. More clues. A sibling or other relative perhaps. Checking these names against a census return will confirm whether this is the case. The census will also show a family’s address and maybe this is somewhere you could visit and perhaps take a photo of.
So, rather than concentrating on how far back you can trace your family line or how many names are hanging on the branches of your family tree, ‘round out’ your research and get to know your ancestors better
Crooked Cat Publishing publishes the fully revised and updated version of my book, Trace your Roots on 19th June 2015.
Please join me on my genealogy blog, I’m always happy to post other people’s stories: http://trace-your-roots.blogspot.co.uk/
EDITOR: Maureen is very kindly donating an e copy of Trace Your Roots as a prize for our raffle. Details will appear on the website shortly. Many thanks Maureen!