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How to trace your ancestry


Most of us that don’t know often become curious as to where we originated from. From eye colour, to skin tone, to the length of one’s toes – our appearance is bursting with indicators of our past.

Many people dedicate years of their lives to researching their family tree in order to fill in the blanks and paint a more vivid picture of their background, with fascinating discoveries often being made.

However, beginning this process can be a daunting prospect, and knowing how and where to start can prove quite troublesome. With that in mind, this article offers five simple tips on how to simplify the process as much as possible, to help you complete your family tree with optimum ease.

Starting your tree

To begin the research, start with yourself and work back. This will get the ball rolling and begin to create links to other relations that may remained unknown up to that point.

There are websites available that have an incredibly large network of data which maximises your chances of filling in the blanks with each piece of your own information you can provide.

Ask your family

Name changes or nicknames can often throw researchers off the scent, so it’s always a good idea to double check that all names are accurate.

Information such as what your previous family members did for a living, where they lived and what they looked like can also open many doors.

Share your findings

Sharing is caring, as they say – and family historians can often hold the key to each other’s past, as paths are more liable to become interlinked the further back in time you go.

There are large numbers of societies and forums designed to help family research share their information, details for which can be found online.

Take notes

Keep a record of your search history to avoid raking over old ground. It’s also a good idea to record all of your findings and where you found them, as this will provide a backup should you misplace or lose any of your data.

See what’s been done before

Again, this is an effective way to avoid raking over old ground. If someone in your family began researching at some point in the past but gave up, it may be useful to simply pick up where they left off, as opposed to starting afresh.

DNA tests

Birth, marriage, and death records are all vital pieces of information and help to add a degree of certainty to your research. However, for traceable family members who are still alive, a DNA test can eliminate any uncertainties.

Tests of this nature are incredibly accessible in this day and age, with the some of the best DNA tests for ancestry research easily available online.

Other records worth attempting to track down include: occupation records, church records, wills, military service records, occupational records, criminal records, and newspaper documents.

Keep your focus

Research of this magnitude can be an exhausting exercise, especially if you’re getting little joy early on. It’s also easy to become overwhelmed at the amount of historical information out there.

However, it’s important to maintain your focus and remember why you began in the first place. Keep a clear idea of what you hope to gain from the research, as this can be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever embark on.