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Getting started with a Family Tree

(18 Posts)
Teetime Sun 02-Nov-14 13:59:38

I'm thinking of starting to research my family history and am wondering if anyone has any tips re which sites to pay for? I have looked at but there are others which seem to cost about the same. I would be very grateful for any pointers please.

rubysong Sun 02-Nov-14 14:10:25

I used Genuki a lot early on Teetime and do join the family history society for the area you are interested in. You may find people there who have researched the same families already. Church of the Latter Day Saints has a website with useful stuff on as well. Of you are lucky enough to have unusual surnames just googling them with the area can bring up interesting information. Good luck!

Nelliemoser Sun 02-Nov-14 14:28:47

I have been using "Find my Past" but they changed their site in May and its a lot more complicated to use however they are said to have a particularly good range of records.

I started in about 1995 long before so much stuff was put on line and I spent a lot of time at local record offices turning the handles of microfiche reading machines.

All counties should have their local record offices some share facilities on these.

Then there are sites like Ancestry and Find my past and several others that charge by the item viewed or an annual subscription. You can buy x amount of credits.

The online sites are a good place to start. You can do trials of a month or so of these, but do make sure that if you do not want to continue your subscription you cancel you Direct Debit as they all tend to automatically renew by taking the money from you.
Have a browse around the forums to see what others recommend.

rosequartz Sun 02-Nov-14 16:19:40

I have used a few sites but have found Ancestry to be the easiest to use, although they have changed the format recently and I didn't like it as much. You can have a free trial but yes, as Nellimoser says, make sure you cancel it within the specified time if you don't want to continue.

As ruby said, the LDS site is free and has a lot of information on it from church records - however, a lot of it is reliant on people putting the information on so I am not sure about accuracy, although it does seem pretty good.

Be careful if you look at public trees on Ancestry - some people put absolute rubbish in their trees, and if you make your own tree public they can filch information from your tree and put it in their own (whether or not they are in fact linked to you). I now keep my trees private on there. However, it is also a useful site for linking up with other distant relatives who may be researching joint ancestors.

LostCousins is a good site for useful tips and information although no-one on there seems to have the same ancestors as me!
There is also Genes Reunited if you are not looking to spend too much money at first.

Then, when you have umpteen files full of interesting information going back centuries, you have the problem of what to do with it all and how to present it for your eager relatives .....

pompa Sun 02-Nov-14 16:50:25

We have been researching our family tree for many years. We find Ancestry to be the most reliable payed source of information. Load your family tree up to their web site via a Gedcom file and you will start to get matches to other families trees.

There are many free sources of information that are very useful :-
Mornans -
FreeBMD (Births, Marriages and Deaths) -
There are several war graves site, just search google.

A brilliant FREE piece of software is LEGACY. This is database software that helps you record all your data as you find it. It is very similar to "Family Tree Maker" but it is free. You can find it here :-

Choose the free version, we have found it does everything we need a whole range of reporting options. The paid for version gives more, bit we have never found a need for the extra it offers. It is regularly updated. Once you have some data saved, you can export it to a gedcom file and into Ancestry.

Good Luck

durhamjen Sun 02-Nov-14 17:05:07

I have both Ancestry and Findmypast.
They both have problems now they have grown bigger.
However, an easy one to use to begin with is which is free to start with.

rubylady Mon 03-Nov-14 00:59:24

My son and I did ours for his home schooling. We did it through our town library, archives department. We went back quite far and found out some interesting things. Can you go to your library (if it is still open) and see if you can get a head start there? smile

Teetime Mon 03-Nov-14 09:08:00

Thank you all that's very helpful. I find that my family didn't arrive here until the mid 1800s from Germany so not sure how to proceed with this.

Tegan Mon 03-Nov-14 09:16:55

Good advice on here; I'm wanting to do the same [and hopefully find some long lost cousins in the process]. My daughter did a very comprehensive family tree a few years back but didn't get very far[or seem terribly interested] with my side of the family.

grumppa Mon 03-Nov-14 09:31:47

Some of the rubbish on Ancestry is hilarious. I was delighted to find out that I am a direct descendant of Uther Pendragon.

Don't forget to talk to your relatives, especially those older than yourself. In addition to specific information, they may have memories which help to corroborate or choose between information you find on line.

Teetime Mon 03-Nov-14 10:56:37

grumpa is a good idea but they are all dead now and I only have a few paper records to go on.

bimbadeen Mon 03-Nov-14 11:30:44

1993 when I started, found a large living family of half brothers and sisters in Canada, well into their 80's then three carried on until their mid 90's..made me so welcome when we visited, internet sites good , Family History Centres will give you a lot of help . Family Tree monthly magazines worth their weight , there are several around. I will try and post some of the sites I've been on.

Having found my family in Canada, have got back to 1720 in Gloucester and stuck . This year found an English cousin I knew nothing about and visited him, having found my relations my husband felt a bit left out, he was fostered at 6 weeks old and adopted at age 7 , when contact with his birth mother ceased, so we decided to try and see what we could find out about her and her family. We found her aged 92, and knew we must tread very, very carefully and respect her wishes re any contact.

We met her, took her out for lunch but as her family knew nothing about my husband she didn't want to continue, my husband has some photos of her and him together so is happy that he was able to make contact and know his true family background. We were given the ok to send her a birthday card and Christmas card just from us with our ph no and when she died someone rang to say she had died, and from there we met her younger sister who lived to be 98 and was fascinated by my husbands background, we went to the 98 year olds funeral at the invitation of her daughter who knew the background and it was strange seeing all these cousins etc who were real relations to my husband.

I will look some sites for you to look at.

durhamjen Mon 03-Nov-14 20:48:21

Myheritage has German records on it. My son's partner is Danish, so she has sent a link to her parents, and they have found out a lot of things that they did not know.
German and Danish records are much easier to get hold of than British.

Pickles Tue 04-Nov-14 04:46:39

..... Yourself seems like a good place...

Oldgreymare Tue 04-Nov-14 09:20:20

Join a local 'Family History Society' where you will meet many people who can help.

pompa Tue 04-Nov-14 09:23:27

Most U3A's have a genealogy group, worth joining whatever your experience.

Jackthelad Tue 04-Nov-14 10:07:12

I would encourage anyone to have a go at tracing their family history and to use the all the available means of information. All counties have archives that are worth visiting and the London Metropolitan Archives are well worth contacting. I traced my family back to Taunton, Somerset and obtained a lot data from there that is not on the internet. I was also able to go around the Somerset Villages where my Ancestors lived and died. However I would also issue a warning. If you do not want to learn the bad as well as the good think before you act. I found my ancestors naughty goings on amusing, but everyone sees it that way. I am descended from an unmarried great great great mother so DNA tracking is of no use. Although by being on the spot I found the death records of her father and mother and her grand parents. Genealogy is very addictive so get at it and have fun

bimbadeen Wed 05-Nov-14 12:38:55

Some sites that I have used
IGI International Genealogical Index
Find My Past
B-G Forums
Forces war Records

I am sorry some of these maybe capitals or small letters.

I have found one or two know it alls who are right regardless of facts and figures , and acquire your info for their trees, so be aware.