Tips for Researching
to everyone in your family about what they know about the ancestors,
keeping in mind that memories can fade and that some of their information
is inaccurate or embellished. (Great Great
Grandma was a full-on Romany Gypsy, or, as is often found in U.S,
genealogy, “Our ancestors were related to UK Royalty & came over with
the Pilgrim Fathers” are two examples of information that is said over
& over that is usually not true.) Write down what you've found out.
create or download a genealogy program to organize your information. If you
can afford to join one or more of the commercial genealogy websites, such
as Ancestry.com, Myheritage.com or Findmypast,
they will provide you with your own “area” to hold your data & share
with other members. This way all of
your information is organized and can be emailed to someone easily.
"Resources" in the local libraries. In these places you will also
find many links to great sites for beginners.
all types of spellings when you look for records. Many times
the spelling changed (Coventon to Covington or Covernton) or the person writing down the information
had trouble deciphering the script. The "s" looks like
"f" in some old script, so Smith could look like Fith to a beginning transcriber. Don’t forget that
literacy levels before the 20th century were generally poor, so many local
birth, death & marriage records were not always spelt by the reporter
& left to someone else to spell it how he/she sought fit.
any of the various search engines available on the web. However, be aware
that as society has become more protective of personal data, many
previously available documents are now unavailable to view. Bring out the
“Investigator” within yourself!
a query on the query board. There are a number of different query boards on
census records in the county and in surrounding counties, where your
ancestors were raised. The great thing about these records is that whole
families are listed together. Over the years, more info was held.
the Cemetery records. There are quite a few on online and there are links
to other's pages that have records.
the funeral home listings. Quite often, people did not have money to buy a
tombstone, but their remains were handled by an undertaker.
the birth, death and marriage records. Those may list parents’ names, etc.
Get copies of these records by ordering them from the appropriate source,
but we careful as it can prove expensive if you buy the wrong John Smith’s
the court records index. If you find something of interest, try to order
the record from the County Clerk. Also know that they are short-staffed and
may not be able to fill your request. You may have to make a trip to the
area or hire a researcher to get the information for you.
the old newspapers, many are now available online, or a visit to the
paper’s HQ may be necessary.
your local Genealogical Society. They're a great source of information and
can help with the "How do I ... "
finally … don't take every piece of information
someone sends you as gospel! Ask for sources! Verify information! Have an
open mind! YOU could be mistaken!
the past The Family Records Centre in London was a major source of
material. However, this facility is no longer open to the public with all
Indexes, etc hidden away in the National Archives. Birth, Death &
Marriage Certificates can be obtained online at www.gov.uk/order-copy-birth-death-marriage-certificate
birth certificate will give you: place & date of birth, sex, full
names, parent's names, including mother's maiden name and father's
marriage certificate shows: place & date of marriage, names, ages,
marital status, occupations and addresses of bride and groom, names and
addresses of both fathers and names of witnesses.
death certificate gives: place, date, cause of death, full name, sex, age
at death, occupation of deceased and name of informant.
certificates cost £9.25 each and are delivered by post (max 14 days). For
next day guaranteed delivery cost is £23.40 (2018 prices)
Society of Genealogists, 14 Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Road, London,
EC1 is well worth checking out, particularly the Great Card Index and
Boyd's Marriage Index. A full day searching costs £18 (2018) for
non-members, although you can visit for 2 hours (£5) or 4 hours £10) and
you will need to provide one of the standard forms of personal ID. It will
help if you are well prepared, having already got a good knowledge of your
family tree. Annual membership is £80 for full membership with Associate
membership costing £56. See website for opening hours & further details
of the info they hold at www.sog.org.uk
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints main
Family History Centre is now based at The National Archives at Kew Gardens
in Richmond, Surrey. Amongst many other fascinating documents provides
access to the International Genealogical Index. Well worth a visit and no
need to become a Mormon ! Their website can be
accessed at www.londonfamilyhistory.org
UK National Archives can provide you with valuable information on a wide
range of subjects www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/
In recent years access to DNA
information has provided a wider opportunity to track down lost family
members. An excellent U.S. site giving all the latest links & advice/data
available can be found at https://www.dnatestingguides.com/blogs/the-ultimate-beginners-guide-to-genealogy/
Modern habits for naming children
often focus on what sounds good to the new parents, and what sounds good is
heavily influenced by popular culture. For this reason, there is a trendy
flood of Jason, Justin, or Jared and a flood of Zach and Megan - names
almost unheard of 20 years ago.
older Great Britain, other norms governed the naming of children. For
example, family researchers might run across Biblical names, such as
Zacharias or Benjamin, or names for religious principles, like Faith, Hope,
and Charity. Such names were not
common in England and may suggest that the family was particularly
committed to religion and may have been non-conformist dissenters (belonged
to a church other than the state Church of England, or Anglican). This can
be a significant hint to the family researcher.
most common convention, however, was for the parents to choose names that honored people. Sometimes the people so honored were powerful people, such as a local, wealthy
landowner. Sometimes the names honored royalty. So there were many Henrys named after King Henry and
many Georges named after King George. The most common persons to honor, however, were the gender appropriate
grandparents and parents. This can be another hint to differentiate between
two sets of same-name parents having children in the same town or village
or to the likelihood of a “missing” child in a family. It also introduces
the concept of “replacement” children.
considered repugnant to modern ears, a child’s untimely death meant the end
of the honor bestowed upon someone. Since many
children died in the 17th and 18th centuries, parents had no problem with
re-using the name of a dead child for a subsequent birth. A family might,
therefore, have several John or Jane children. Occasionally, the same name
was given to more than one living child, but this was rare. The re-use of a
name almost always meant that the first child with that name had died.
was even a convention in the order in which the ancestors were honored – probably to avoid insulting anyone. Although
it was far from universally used, the usual British naming convention was
• The first son was named after the paternal
• The second son was named after the maternal grandfather
• The third son was named after the father
• The fourth son was named after the oldest paternal uncle
• The fifth was named after the second oldest paternal uncle or the oldest maternal
• The first daughter was named after
the maternal grandmother
• The second daughter was named after the paternal grandmother
• The third daughter was named after the mother
• The fourth daughter was named after the oldest maternal aunt
• The fifth was named after the second oldest maternal aunt or the oldest
there was duplication (for example, the paternal grandfather and the father
had the same name), then the family moved to the next position on the list.
· Given Names & Nicknames – link to USGenWeb
· Cyndi's List
of Links to Name Sites
Records are definitely going to a part of your research. This can be done
in a lot of different ways. Here is a list of good online Census Resources.
Information from GENUKI
USGW Census Project
– A wonderful resource for US genealogy data
· Cyndi's List
of Census Sites – Valuable source of links to other great
immigration and Passenger Arrival Records – link to US National Archives
can be a lot of information available to you if you can find the
immigration papers of your ancestor. The US National Archives are only
available via a visit to Washington DC, but most of the pay to join
genealogy sites offer online access
can be a valuable genealogical tool. Some geographical research will
probably become necessary in your search as early county lines were in
flux, towns and townships changed names and other geographical changes
occurred. You might need to know what was located near to a certain river
and other things like that.
- Calendar Information and Date Formats – link to USGenWeb
you will find a lot of information on old calendars, date changes, double
are links to other pages that will help you either get started or get over
the brick wall. I have also provided links to specialty sites like document
preservation, old photograph preservation, bible preservation, passenger
& ships records, special ethnic sites and much, much more. Good luck
and happy researching!
- Resources, Links, How-tos, Articles, Chat,
Forums, and More
List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet - Links to every topic you can think
Search Internet Genealogy Service - This is the online version of The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Family History Center.
Exchange & Surname Registry - Lots of great info and there is
even a Kid's Corner!
- A great deal of good info and links to many, many other sites.
· Treasure Maps - The How-to Genealogy WWW Site
JUST A LITTLE DEEPER
INTO FAMILY HISTORY
you have compiled your family tree, you may look at the sheets of paper in
front of you and ask the following question about each individual on your
chart; "Who was he, or she? What were they really like? How did they
live?" "What sort of an environment did they live in?"
Where known, I have
included a brief pen-picture about some individuals but this only tells you
a very small amount about the person. It tells you little about his
lifestyle, his surroundings, or the state of the country at the time of his
life. Nowadays we take so much for granted that our ancestors couldn't
possibly enjoy. Take out electricity, motor cars, running hot & cold
water, television, overseas holidays, city centre stores and supermarkets
from our current lifestyle and our existence would seem a little bland.
However, if one believes the saying "You don't miss what you've never
had", we can be happy that our ancestors were not too disillusioned
with their lot.
particularly sad element of their lifestyle was the enormity of the number
of child deaths which occurred. It seems quite commonplace, for a couple to
lose 3, 4 or 5 children before they were 1 year old. It is difficult,
nowadays, to relate to this situation, as very few birth or early childhood
mortalities occur. Today, when they do happen, they are usually classified
as still-births or blamed on cot death, very occasionally some serious
physical ailment, such as heart, lung or kidney malfunction is responsible.
However, in years gone by, many now insignificant illnesses such as Measles
and Whooping Cough resulted in infant death. Many simply didn't make it
through the trauma of actual childbirth, where few, but the offspring of
the very rich, would have been delivered by a qualified physician.
to the 1851 census, out of 1000 live births, 154 died before reaching 1. In
1986 it was 9.6 deaths per 1000. Those that did survive circa 1841, lived
to an average age of 41. Today the average age at death is nearer 75.
example of how we often forget how things used to be struck me when I was
researching my Great Grandfather's life. I had found that he had been a
driver in the Royal Artillery. Not a bad job, I thought, chauffeuring the
Colonel around, perhaps, or maybe even driving the ammunitions truck. But
no, because in 1880 there were very few limousines or Bedford trucks, so
Driver Covington was actually in charge of a team of horses pulling a gun
carriage. Many of his family were agricultural labourers or straw plait
workers, both of which were working in a very labour intensified industry,
no tractors or combine harvesters in those days. No wonder they died so
a good place to start when trying to get a wider picture of your Covington
is the place where he or she lived. Whilst the majority of buildings over
200 years old have long since disappeared, you will usually be able to
visit the church where your ancestor was baptized, married or buried. A
visit to the nearest library can help with useful background information,
sometimes old street maps and photographs add to your view of what life was
be only satisfied with the local environment, it is interesting to find out
What taxes were payable? Who was King or Queen? (Would your ancestor have
actually even seen a picture of the Queen?). Who was Prime Minister? Were
we at war? What schooling was available? (many children started work at 9
years of age right up to the end of the 19th century). If nothing else, it
makes History a much more interesting subject than I can remember it being
during my schooling years An interesting approach is to list your own
lifestyle, showing your job description, salary, pastimes, food, holidays,
means of transport, communication, entertainments and clothing, and then
trying to compare them with your chosen ancestor. It is only when you begin
to see how your ancestors lived that you perhaps feel a little less
dissatisfied with your own lot!
on, get stuck into a hobby that is constantly maturing with you.
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