The Family Tree
Warning: family history can lead to emotional discoveries.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but you begin at the end! That is, you begin with you.
Check your birth certificate, verify your parents. It may seem like a given, but just sometimes people find they are adopted, or their mum is really their grandma. It pays to check.
Check your parents birth certificates, to verify your grandparents. Then work your way back through the generations, verifying birth certificates.
These first steps build the strong foundation of your family tree, so worth doing well.
It is not a case of how far back you can go, but the quality of your data
You may wish to answer a family question. I knew my parents were second cousins, so wanted to find out about this link. Set yourself a goal to work towards. Whatever your motivation, make sure you verify each generation of grandparents. Birth certificates are the key.
Filing and filling in the gaps
For free US birth record search Fee Mormon Genealogy
Use a FREE search engine to find missing birth information. In the UK use FreeBMD
It is a basic form. You don’t have to add all the information. But as much as you can. There is no SEARCH button. Hit RETURN, to activate the search.
Verify you have the correct record and make note of the District, Vol and Page
In this example the District is Bath, the Vol (short for volume) is 7c, the Page is 57. Also note the month ie Births Dec 1957.
You will need this information to order birth certificates online.
Money saving tip: The certificates are half the price from the Gov.UK site than if purchased through any family history website. I’m sure the same is true in the USA.
Order birth certificates, here in the UK you can buy them from the Registry Office Gov.UK
In the USA please check US National Archive
Getting these certificates correct, is of paramount importance. The the validity of your family tree, hangs on verified information of the grandparent line.
Choosing a family history search engine
Its very exciting receiving your ancestors birth certificates. They hold so much information. Other than the date, it has names and occupations of the parents and grandparents. also the addresses and ages of the parents. This verifies your next generation, and perhaps more birth certificates to order.
Once armed with verified data, of names, dates of birth, you can consider documenting your family tree on a website. They all have their pros and cons, and for research purposes, I have used most of them over the years. I have my family tree documented on Ancestry.co.uk as this was the most advanced when I first began my wonder down Ancestry Lane.
Warning: do not be seduced by the hints facility provided by many ancestry websites. You much check each one out, usually by ordering certificates, before accepting them. Many are incorrect. They are merely useful hints and suggestions, not proven data.
I hope this gives some hints on best practice and advise on where to start. If you would like some more in-depth insights, let me know. Comments are always welcome. Have you have any tips you would like to add?
Many thanks to DA-Al for suggesting the theme of this post.