Researching your family’s history can be a rewarding hobby. We will build our family tree with names, dates, and places. It can get quite exciting. Read on as I will show you 5 more tips to help you search your family history.
We can also collect stories and tidbits of information from wherever we can find them.
But it can get frustrating when we can’t find what we are looking for.
Please check out!
After reading these tips please check my 5 Tips For A Better Family History Search post.
And if you want to read more helpful tips please check out the National Geographic website. There you will find 8 Tips to Help Find Your Family Tree.
The article will show you how to get started, organize your research, where and how to search online, and even what DNA testing is all about.
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6. Be Thorough With Your Research
Whenever we research a particular ancestor of ours we always want to know everything that we can find about him or her.
Well, that was certainly the case for me when I was researching my family tree.
Discovering everything about an ancestor is so fascinating. I want to look at every source of information that I possibly can.
How I gather information
Firstly I look online at various genealogy search websites, such as Ancestry and FindMyPast.
I will then check censuses, newspaper archives, military records, probates, and other databases that these sites hold.
I will look at the indexes for births, deaths, and marriages on these sites. Once I discover these records I can then apply to buy the actual certificates.
After I obtain these certificates I can then gather even more information such as the residence of the person listed, their occupation, date of the event, and so on.
So, what I am saying is I could be happy to obtain just the date and the place of the event. But no I want to find out all that I could.
By doing so I can see the full story of my ancestor.
Of course, this does cost money, but spending money is the same as any hobby, isn’t it?
Check whether sources of information are available
I have just given one example of finding information about your ancestors and how I looked even further into their past.
There is a wealth of information that is online about our ancestors.
Websites such as Ancestry and FindMyPast are particularly useful for anyone wanting to do genealogy research.
New information is added all the time to these sites.
But it is important to note that not everything can be found on these sites, or for that matter online.
At one stage you will have to plan a visit to the archives to look at records that may be crucial to your family research.
* Owain’s Bonus Tip *
These sites will often have a digitized image of the record together with a transcription.
Always check the transcription with the image as sometimes when these records are being transcribed errors may creep in.
This I have seen several times during my research.
7. Look At Other Spelling Variants
As if genealogy isn’t challenging enough you must consider that your ancestor’s name may have been recorded differently throughout their lifetime.
This can make it harder to trace their lives.
So, this tip is worth remembering when we are scouring databases and records for our ancestors.
Why the different spellings?
There are many reasons as to why our ancestors’ names may have differed during their lifetime.
Often it was written down how it sounded.
And of course, the person writing down the name would write it how they thought it was spelled.
Our ancestors may not have even known how to spell their names.
So, they may have written it down differently from time to time.
Whenever they signed something a different spelling may have appeared.
Another possibility could be that our ancestors wanted to change their names for whatever reason. This has been the case for one of my ancestors.
My family name change!
For several generations, my ancestors were named Watters, spelled with two t’s.
However, this subsequently changed to Waters.
The reason was that my ancestor didn’t want to continue the family’s blacksmith trade and so he wanted to differentiate himself from the family and their family name’s representation.
8. Share Your Research With Other Researchers
During your research, you will most likely make contact with cousins of yours who will have information about your ancestors.
They can share with you what they have found and obviously, you can return the gesture.
This has happened to me on several occasions. I love it when I make connections while researching my family history.
Making connections helps!
Making connections with cousins is one of the perks if you will of being a genealogist.
Sure we know that we have cousins out there that they have never meant and didn’t even know existed.
So, it can be a great surprise when we connect with a cousin and share knowledge about our ancestors.
What can we gain by sharing?
As I mentioned earlier in tip 6 we all want to know as much as we can about our ancestors.
Sharing what we learn will mean that we will gather information a lot faster than if research alone.
Also, information that we gain from our cousins may not have been recorded.
Rather stories and tales would have been passed down the generations.
Likely, these stories and information regarding your ancestors may not have been recorded within your family line but that of your cousin.
Therefore, it is important to communicate and share so we can get even more information.
Likewise, then we will build a bigger picture of our ancestor’s life.
How can you make connections?
There are many ways that you can make connections with cousins. I will just share with you some of my experiences.
I have made connections through both Ancestry and Facebook.
Obviously, with Ancestry, you can view other people’s family trees. If you see that someone is related to you, (based on the family tree that they have put on the site), then you can communicate with them.
You can then share more information regarding your family’s history.
Facebook has also allowed me to connect with family members.
You may discover a group concerning your ancestors or you may try to track down people on this site.
I was tracked down by a cousin who searched for my name.
Once you have made a connection through Facebook then this opens the door to other cousins contacting you.
When one cousin makes contact with you then they can introduce you to another and so on.
9. Map Your Ancestors Lives
By looking at historical maps you will get an idea of the area in which your ancestor lived. You can see the landscape around them as well as what businesses were in the area.
If you know what your ancestor did for a living you may then find out where he or she worked.
What do I mean by this?
For example, many of my ancestors were coal miners. Before the invention of the car, people would naturally live near to where they worked.
So, finding where my ancestors lived, (through censuses), I could find the nearest collieries to them.
By checking censuses I can see that my ancestor moves from time to time.
The reason was that some collieries did close and so he and his family were forced to relocate.
Checking censuses he was still listed as a colliery working and was always living near to a coal mine.
10. Join A Library and Family History Society
A typical library will have a section on the local history of the area. By exploring what resources they have you will get an understanding of the area in which your ancestor lived.
How can a library help!
Maps can show you the landscape around them.
But resources at a library will show you what job prospects there were, what the economy was like, the total population, and so on.
Also, there may be family research that has been donated to the library.
These may be useful to you as they may contain information about your ancestors, or a connection in some way.
What can a family history society do for me?
A family history society can give you the same information as a library.
They will have a wealth of information and are always making new records available which you can check out.
These societies can also personally help you with your genealogy research.
They can steer you in the right direction by discussing the area in which your ancestor lived.
They may even know your ancestor that they can share with you.
You can learn new skills by joining a family history society which you can use for your genealogy research.
Joining such a society will cost you an annual membership but the information that you will gain will justify the expense.
My Final Thoughts
Over the years of researching my family history, I have picked up some useful tips that have helped me immensely.
There are though many more tips that I could have discussed here, but that would have made this post too long of a read for you.
Instead, you could buy the 500 Best Genealogy & Family History Tips PDF file through the Legacy Family Tree Store.
Written by ‘genealogy ninja’ Thomas MacEntree has amassed 500 tips that can be found over 85 packed pages.
Considering that there are hundreds of tips to be found in this book it is well worth a bargain at only $5.95.
These tips have been described as a brain dump by Thomas as he has collected them over many years.
You can simply use the table of contents at the start of the PDF to find your problem.
Alternatively, you can search through the book.
Topics covered in this book:
- Research methodology and strategy
- How to use the Internet to your advantage
- How to use social media for research and being secure within it
- Preserving your family photos, stories, anecdotes, and tales
- Backing up your genealogy data,
- Plus much, much more!
What do you think?
If you decide to buy this helpful book then please come back and let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you.
Thank You and Please Leave A Comment
I hope you enjoyed these 5 more tips to help you search your family history. If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below.
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6 thoughts on “5 More Tips To Search Your Family History”
I can see that you did an in-depth research to start the genealogy project.
I wondered about the Facebook connection. I have some close relatives in England that I would love to connect with only because we never met. My brother migrated and got these children and he died in England. The family in other parts of the world have never met them.
Your site has motivated me to start doing some research on my family history. I will try to get some more information on how to start from your site.
Did you ever come to a dead end and wondered what next?
Your site is truly helpful
Thank you for the comment. I made family connections thanks to cousins emailing me. I was surprised that they found me. It was great because I could learn so much about my family tree.
I have hit some brick walls. One way I’ve got through them is by checking parish records. It can be a bit laborious as you have to sift through them, but they can help you solve your problem.
Hope this helps.
Oh man..looking at spelling variants is gold. My last name get missed spelts about 40% of the time. I can only imagine how many of my ancestors had the same problem.
Thanks for sharing this great and useful info.
My pleasure Vince. Yeah you can imagine that even these days our names are misspelt. So it’s almost certain that these may have happened to our ancestors when their details were recorded.
Also, when these records have been transcribed and uploaded to the internet there is also the possibility that errors will creep in there.
Very interesting. Do you have any more information on the family history societies?
Thank you Greg for your comment and question. I have written a general post about Family history societies. I do plan to discuss this topic more in depth in the future.