Finding out where your family came from can be an eye-opening and life-changing discovery. Here are ten ways you can trace your family tree.
Delving deep into your family history can prove a fascinating journey of discovery – both for yourself and your loved ones.
Researching your family tree can not only reveal the history of who your ancestors were and where they came from, but it can also prove useful in providing more insight into your health and genetics.
There is often only so far back you can discover by looking through family photo albums and talking to parents, grandparents, and other family members, so if you’re curious about finding out your family history, read on.
Here are ten ways you can trace your family tree.
Visit your local library – an invaluable resource
Your local library can prove useful for delving into your family history. If your family have lived in the same town for generations, your local library may have useful information on the town’s history, and you never know the role your own ancestors could have played.
Local libraries can also grant card-holders free access to useful genealogy websites that you would normally have to pay for.
Talk to your relatives – a step in the right direction
Talking to your relatives is one of the easiest ways you can trace your family tree. Stories of family members from years gone by can point you in the right direction for taking further research.
Ask to see old pictures and documents to find out how much information you already have about where your ancestors came from.
Search online – just a quick search
With the internet at our fingertips, it is easier today than ever to conduct research into your family history – and pretty much anything you want to know.
Instead of trawling through pages of books, you can simply put in a search term on Google or websites like Ancestry.com or MyHeritage to find out all you need to know.
Find out the history of your family name – more useful than you may think
This could either prove very helpful or completely useless depending on how common your surname is. If you have an unusual surname, it may be easier to narrow down your ancestors by looking into the history of your family name.
Further, if you have a family name that originates from a specific country, you can gain an insight into where your ancestors came from. For example, if your family have traditional Irish surnames like O’Neill and Kelly, you will know to look at Irish Public Records.
Take a DNA test – a personal way to find out your family history
A DNA test can prove incredibly useful in discovering your family history as it can give you an interesting insight into where your family may have originated from.
Through heritage sights, you can order a DNA test kit, send off your saliva sample in the post, and get your results back within a few weeks. You can also use this to connect with others around the world who share your DNA.
Check Poor Law records – thanks to the 1815 Poor Law
If you think your ancestors may have been poor or had a criminal record, then this could make your search much easier.
The 1815 Poor Law was established to help those who were unable to find work by making sure they were fed, clothed, and housed in workhouses. You can easily find workhouse records online for the U.K. and Ireland.
Check Public Records – a useful resource
Checking Public Records can prove invaluable as one of the best ways you can trace your family tree.
You can find out some very useful information from birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, and will and testament documents.
Meet with other Family Historians – help each other out
Whether or not you have any relation to other Family Historians, it can prove very useful to connect with others looking into their own family backgrounds through societies such as The Society of Genealogists.
Check to see if there are any societies based around researching genealogy in your local area. Meeting these people can be useful not only to find out tips and places to look, but you never know, you may find an unexpected family connection!
Check social networks – search your family name
You can start by connecting with people who share your family name on social networks such as Facebook to find out if they can shed any light on your family history.
Alternatively, you can use specialised sites like GenesReunited, FamilyRelatives, and LostCousins, which will connect you with people who may have already conducted research into your family background.
National archives – check census records
One of the best ways you can trace your family history is through national archives such as census records, immigration records, and military service records.
Some of these are readily accessible online, while others are only available at certain National Archive facilities.