Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

How do I start a family tree from scratch?


Would you like to start a family tree and find your ancestors but don’t have much to go in the way of names and dates? Not to worry, our guide for beginners will get you started and you’ll soon be discovering more about your family’s past and maybe even finding relatives you never knew you had.

Even if you know literally nothing about your family it’s possible to get started on tracing your family tree because the first step for anyone new to family history is always to start with yourself. All you need to begin with is your birth certificate. Don’t have that? If you’re in the UK you can visit the gov.uk website to get a copy.

How to use a birth certificate to trace your family history

Once you have the certificate you’re on your way as this will list at least one, and hopefully both, parents. You can find out more about what information is on a birth certificate here.

The birth certificate will list the names of your parents, their place of residence and your mother’s maiden name. This latter item is your clue to taking your family tree back another generation because you can use your mother’s maiden name to search for her marriage certificate.

Keep track of your findings

As you discover names and dates remember to keep track of these, as they are the first branches of your family tree. Starting with yourself, you can draw up a family tree and more details about this can be found in our guide here.

So, now you know the names of your parents you can look for their marriage certificate, either using a genealogy website or on the Gov.uk website.

Your parents’ marriage certificate will include details of the name of both the bride and the groom, their age, place of residence and also the name and occupation of the father of both the bride and groom. So now you’re already at the third generation (grandparents) of your family tree and you can keep working backwards in this way.

Continue your family history project

Explore our website for lots more free help, advice and information. Our getting started section is a good place to find the key records you’ll be using as you discover your family’s past. And don't miss Family Tree Live, our brand new genealogy show at Alexandra Palace - tickets on sale now.

QUICK LINK: Family history for free

Back to "Getting Started" Category

10/12/2018 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

Thousands of Roman Catholic records added to FindMyPast database

Thousands of Roman Catholic records for the Diocese of Middlesbrough have been added to the FindMyPast ...

New DNA regions in Ireland launched by Ancestry

Ancestry has announced that it has added 73 new regions in Ireland to its DNA database, making 92 regions in ...

Missing parish church marriages – 3 websites to help you find the records

There may be several reasons why you can’t find the parish record of your ancestors' marriage pre-civil ...

How to trace your Canadian ancestors at MyHeritage

Find your Canadian ancestors using the wealth of records on the MyHeritage genealogy website. ...

Other Articles

How to organise your family tree research

It's a new year, so why not get make this the year you get your family history research organised? Our tips ...

144,000 Worcestershire baptism records added to TheGenealogist

The records of 144,793 individuals, with a further 20,000 individuals named on headstones, have been released ...

Over 100,000 Norfolk family history records added to FindMyPast genealogy website

FindMyPast has announced that it has added thousands of Norfolk baptism, marriage and burial records to its ...

Family Tree Christmas quiz & crossword answers

Discover how you got on in the Family Tree Christmas issue quiz and crossword. Find the answers below