Do you know your family tree?

How to make a family tree and discover your fascinating family history!!

I make the phone call, "Mum, you won't believe it, yes, yes I know its nearly midnight, yes I know you are going to sleep, but you're not going to believe it, I found the link to grandad's maternal family... I know, I'll send it through now!!!"

These are the kind of conversations that happen once you start researching your family tree, you become so engrossed that literally hours can disappear as you use all your skills and memory to track down elusive relatives.

You can spend weeks putting together a line in your tree, working out the story, only to be blocked by a missing record or name, and days later you work it out.

Researching your family tree can become a fascinating hobby, which can involve your whole family. It's great fun, and exercises all manner of skills.

With the internet, research is now so much easier than it was five years ago! No trudging through churches or graveyards, most research for places such as the US, UK, Australia, and Canada can be done online.

Example of an Aristocratic Family Tree

How do you start?

The first place you can start with your family tree is right at home, you can discover lots about your family really quickly.

Get out there, speak to your relatives, be prepared for the most outrageous stories, the family gossip,  years of passed down "knowledge" about your family history. This is the stuff you should be craving, the lifeblood of the family tree researcher.

During my research I couldn't find out any information on my wife's maternal ancestors. I happened to mention this at a family party, and was told by her auntie that the name we were searching for had changed in it's spelling! We might never have found that, she also told us why it had changed, which explained some of the problems we were finding.

The Desert Rats

Also within your close family you probably have more amazing stories than you could ever know. There will be stories of bravery, compassion, and even at times tales of regret.

I found fantastic stories of my grandfather, who during World War II, rescued a man from a collapsed bridge, under heavy fire, and years later met him in a business meeting.

There were stories of the wheelwright who made a fortune, when the new Tetley's brewery was built, and lost eveything in a game of cards!

Your family history, is not just about finding the names and dates. These stories tell us more about ourselves and our family than any number of names and dates on a chart.

Gossip, stories and facts!

When you begin speaking to your family record everything they tell you. No matter how insignificant the comments might seem, like any good detective you never know when the information will become vital. The best thing to do is use a tape recorder or mp3 recorder (many players have it as a built in function), this will save time, and ensures you can copy everything at your convenience.

You want to record:

1. Dates - Any dates are good, no matter what the event. Weddings, christenings, engagements, births and deaths, accept they may be wrong, but they are a good starting point.

2. Locations - Where did your family come from, where did people get married, hospitals they were born in, where did they live. Some of these may be pretty vague, but they may be useful later.

3. Names - You want any names, middle names, nicknames, were they named after someone special (aunities, uncles, grandparents), often names are passed down generations. Did people have family names, such as Ninny, that aren't there real name.

4. Occupations - What jobs did people do, where did they work, did they fight in the war, where did they serve?

5. Stories - Are there any interesting stories? Was there gossip about certain family members, did they have children out of wedlock? Stories are a way of passing down vital information in their original format.

6. Documents - Any, and I mean any documents you can find need to be treated almost religiously. The documents can be anything, soldiers pension; birth, marriage and death certificates; record of service books; christening invites ; you will be surprised at what wealth of information can be gathered from many seemingly minor documents.

Remember you are a detective, any clues you gather now, will save you time later! If you want to know how to make a family tree successfully then the key is tenacity, having fun and good research.

Good Resources

Want to know how do your family tree research for free?

You can get links to websites for the UK here:

How to make a family tree for free in the US

How to make a family tree for free in the UK

I will be posting up more info real soon:

What software/websites to use?
How to use Census records
How to use Birth records
How to use Marriage records
How to use Death records
How to use Christening records
How to use Ancestry
The best family tree sites
What to do when your stuck?

I will be posting up some video tutorials, and articles, so book mark me and come back soon!