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The First Steps Toward Family Tree Research

16-01-2013 No comments yet
  • Sometimes the answers are right on your doorstep! Talk to parents, grandparents, uncles, aunties, (old) neighbors.
  • ŸRead about the years or era during which your relatives were children to get a feel of the circumstances they grew up in.
  • ŸSelect a family name and be open-minded. Many people were illiterate prior to the 20th century, which could result in many different spellings of names, e.g.: Smith, Smythe, Smithe, Smyth, Schmidt. (When Tom McKerley put together his family tree he found 17 variants of his family name. e.g. McKarley, McKerlie, McCurley, etc.)
  • ŸBirth, Death and Marriage certificates (BDM). Since 1855 (UK) all BDM was a compulsory legal requirement by a local Registrar. The Registrar would record the event and issue an official certificate. The information contained makes them the stepping stones to trace back through the generations.
  • Pre-1855 BDM: Old Parish Records (OPR) are the main source, especially births and marriages. Deaths were the least well kept and many parishes don’t have anything.
  • ŸOPR (UK) provides information on the Church of Scotland, (majority of the people during this time period). The Catholic Church; most registers did not start until the 19th Century.

Free Internet sites to help you get started:

  • IGI International Genealogical Index
    Compiled by researchers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This includes most of OPR entries and entries by church members, family papers or research. However, this should not be used as a substitute for OPR, but can help to reduce the time to trace an ancestor to a specific parish.
    It also includes the 1880 USA Census and 1881 Canadian.
    Beware of inaccuracies!
  • ŸCommonwealth War Graves Commission
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Other Useful Sources (also on the Internet; in some cases subscription required):

  • Maps (understanding information found in Census)
  • Valuation Rolls (1855 – 1974; owners of property)
  • Kirk Session Records * (personal information) * not be mistaken for  Star Trek episodes, kirk meaning: church
  • ŸCemetery Records
  • ŸGravestone Inscriptions
  • ŸFamily History Societies
  • ŸNewspaper archives
  • Ÿ
  • ŸGenes Reunited
  • ŸScotland’s People (for Scottish records only)

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