Genealogy research – a step by step guide to making the most of your family tree
In The Weekend Genealogist part I, family history expert Mary Evans takes a look at how you can improve your family tree, whether you have just thirty minutes, or a whole day.
In this special eight-part series, Mary will share her advice on how to make the most of your time, maximise your research potential, and use the resources provided by record offices and genealogy websites effectively and efficiently.
If you have… half an hour
Have a quick look at FreeBMD if you haven’t done so recently. Indexes from 1837 to 1983 are nearing completion, so the entry you’ve been waiting for could well be there. The Free BMD coverage charts show at a glance what percentage of births, marriages and death indexes for 1837 to 1983 have been transcribed from GRO records.
If you have… a couple of hours
Copy up all those notes you made on your last trip to a record office. Leave it too long and you will have forgotten what some of your notes mean. (You may even find you can’t read your own handwriting after a while!) If you had your laptop with you and typed the notes straight in, make sure you’ve organised all the information since then, either in the correct folders where you store your family history on your computer or in your family history program.
If you have… half a day or a whole day
Does your local Family History Society have a research centre? If so, why not visit it? You may not have any local family connections but societies often have information on neighbouring areas and may well have at least some sources from further afield.
I found details of passengers who embarked near London on a ship bound for Australia in 1852 – on a shelf in Aberdeen, 500 miles away! At the very least you could find that the local society has a reciprocal arrangement with other societies for exchanging magazines.
Check opening days/times before you go. You can access websites of societies belonging to the Federation of Family History Societies (England, Wales, Ireland, Overseas, One-Name and Others) here and Scottish societies through the Scottish Association of Family History Societies. There may be a small charge if you’re not a society member.