Finding out about my family tree

Items with dates are especially helpful.

Family memorabilia to look for and photograph if you do not have permission from the owner to take the item include old pictures, military records, diplomas and report cards, and of course diaries, postcards, and letters. Explain what you are doing and why, invite them to participate, and respect their wishes for how any item you discover will be handled, copied, or stored.

Plus, if you treasure hunt first and interview second, you will have artifacts to talk about with your relatives.

Asking them to identify people or places in old photos, for example, can be a catalyst for stories and leads. Start by asking questions about your parents, grandparents, and, if possible, great-grandparents and beyond that will reveal foundational knowledge. Basic information to ask about includes full names and names of siblings, birthplaces and birthdates, locations or even addresses of family homes, nationality and ethnic background, occupations, education, military service, and where relatives are buried.

The First Steps to Researching Your Family

If a relative appears hesitant or outright refuses to share specifics about a certain event or person, move on to another topic. By speaking with multiple relatives and following up with your own research, often you can fill in the blanks without upsetting or alienating anyone. New resources, services, and options are added regularly on popular genealogy sites including FamilySearch.

Browse the FamilySearch catalog of genealogical materials including books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, and publications , and request a free loan to the closest Family History Center typically at a public library where you can view the items in person. Geno 2. Although not primarily a genealogy testing service, participants will discover the migration paths their ancient ancestors followed thousands of years ago and will learn the details of their ancestral roots—their branch on the family tree.

Tests can reveal family paternity and maternity secrets kept hidden by your ancestors or immediate family members. For instance, Smolenyak, who is half Irish, half eastern European, says that while inquiries like this are common with ancestors from Ireland, roots research remains somewhat of a novelty in much of the world.

For most people, including celebrities, cautions Szucs, the ancestors discovered and the lives they led will be more mundane. Each record we find represents something seemingly insignificant, but sometimes these events were life-changing experiences for our ancestors and therefore for us.

BBC - History - Getting Started on Your Family Tree

A decade ago there was no point even considering researching your roots if you weren't prepared to spend days, months or potentially years trawling through dusty registers and reels of microfilm in an archive where the temperature is controlled at near Arctic conditions. Now I can browse centuries of marriage records on my iPad while basking in the sunshine. The internet opened up a world of possibilities for anyone eager to find out, at the click of a button, if a First World War soldier, merchant seaman or criminal lurks in their family tree. What's more, you can start the process anywhere, surrounded by family, and this is where the best genealogy apps come into their own.

A Blueprint for Genealogy Research on the Internet

The smartphone has given us so many tools rolled into one — a video camera for recording uncle Albert's war stories, a voice recorder for the camera shy, interactive maps so you can find the house where your grandfather was born and a pocket scanner for quickly capturing copies of great aunt Ethel's ration book before she chucks it out without telling you.

Before you know it you'll be infected with the genealogy bug, seeking out the nearest archive in search of all those documents that haven't yet been digitised. Interviewing your family is the best place to begin. This voice recording app offers clear sound, good basic functionality and the option to tag audio files that you have saved.

Tracing your family tree? The 10 best apps to help you find your relatives

If you want to keep the interviews for posterity, using a plug-in microphone with your smartphone or tablet will improve the quality further still. Start building your family tree and find your ancestors in billions of historic records. This works best when used with a monthly subscription to the Ancestry website. This forum app gives access to a rapidly growing genealogy community online.

Somewhere for newbies to ask for friendly pointers and for experienced hands to share advice. It is also a good place to pick up birth, marriage and death certificates.


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  • Creating your Irish Family Tree.

Family trees that are easy to build and to view even offline. There are three privacy settings and a function to create a fast family tree by connecting with relatives via Facebook. If you want to view historical documents, including census returns, wills and nonconformist records, you have to pay to subscribe via TheGenealogist website.

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Another great tool for creating and editing your tree. A useful feature allows photographs to be incorporated. Has a good but basic facility for looking up records, but you need to pay a full subscription to view search results. It supports 32 languages and is renowned for its worldwide genealogy community, helping you link to relatives overseas. Designed to help you search for family graves worldwide, but equally useful for those who want to share their findings via crowdsourcing.