New to family history

What’s in a name?

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When you first start studying your family tree, it is tempting to stick with the spellings of names that you are used to. In my own case, I stuck to Clarke with an “e” whenever I looked for my Clarkes, and Dickins with an “i” because frankly I got bored with looking at so many […]

Family history

Red Herring Hints

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One of the joys of using a genealogy website designed to help you make your family tree, is that most of them will provide hints as you enter information.  It’s becoming more and more useful, as more people start researching their family tree and add information, the reliability of the information will, in theory, become […]

New to family history

Keeping records straight

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How you keep your records becomes more important, the longer you study your family history and the more records you have.  Making your system too complex soon becomes overwhelming.  It begins to become too much of a chore and starts to make the likelihood of you bothering to record the sources of your information less […]

Family history

What is a “gateway ancestor”?

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Once upon a time, when the internet was still a way for scientists to talk to each other, a “gateway ancestor” was someone in your family tree who linked you to known genealogies, or the aristocracy, and enabled you to add a great deal of information.  Almost invariably, a gateway ancestor would be from a […]

Family history

What to do when stuck on your family history

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Whatever resources you have at your disposal, however good your research skills, there are going to be times when you come up against a brickwall and can’t get beyond it.  Maybe you have an ancestor with a common name, and 500 Mary Jones to distinguish one from another.  Maybe you can’t find out where you […]

Family history

Using Census returns to fill in family history

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Once you have managed to piece your family tree together back to 1911, in the UK the most useful tools for progressing your family history are the UK Censuses.  These are available online, and were held every ten years from 1841 onwards, although only the returns up to 1911 are available to researchers.  What makes […]

Family history

How to search for your ancestors

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Whether you are planning to do the legwork yourself, or to employ a genealogist, starting your family history begins at the same point: with gathering together everything you already know about your family or can ask your relatives about.  What’s the next step? You need to work out if you wish to simply follow your […]

New to family history

One-name studies

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Every beginner family researcher learns quickly that some names and some families are easier to research than others.  In my own family tree, the Jones family of Carmarthen are a nightmare: over 500 Mary Joneses in Carmarthenshire for the early 19th century, and nothing much to distinguish one from another.  However, I also have Earwakers […]

New to family history

Beginning your family history

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Whether you plan to do your own research, employ someone else to do it, or a combination of the two, the beginning is the same: work out what you already know.  Most people will know their own place and date of birth, the date of birth and names of their parents, and usually the names […]