Internet Genealogy

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spot
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Post by spot »

Free Internet Genealogy resources relevant to England in 2011: the Quick Dirty Beginner's guide

Amateur Genealogy is a pastime which bears comparison with doing jigsaws and collecting valueless ephemera, not least in the sense of investing time in exchange for nothing more tangible than a sense of achievement.

I don't recommend it. People tend to get suckered into spending hundreds of pounds when they decide to discover their ancestry.

These notes may help those who ignore my recommendation to at least get started without buying anything.

Set up a record system on your computer

First off before anything else, install Ahnenblatt. Run it, put yourself in with your own date of birth and save the chart with your surname. That's about the only predictable and easy thing you'll get to do, make the most of it. You could choose another package if you feel inclined, that's the one I'd use.

The game is to add as many people as you're related to. Brownie points come not from how many you can collect as how accurate you are and how far back you can take all your branches. A well-shaped tree is aesthetically pleasing. One with long stringy creepers and bald patches is a bit tacky.

You can't add friends or celebrities, not unless they're related to you.

What's the intention

There are three kinds of result that Amateur Genealogists end up with.

The first is the normal unbalanced tree with just ancestors, which might run to a couple of hundred records.

The second is an accurate balanced tree showing ancestors and their siblings dating back roughly ten generations, which might have five thousand records.

The third is “The Database” which includes everyone the collector ever comes across in his searches and often exceeds a quarter of a million records.

Try to restrain yourself to creating the first category if you insist on starting at all. Those building the second category have spent more time and put in more effort than if they'd taken an Open University degree course from scratch. The third category collector is mentally unhinged but even so there's a stack of them out there.

Where and how to begin: ask the living

So, who do you know out of your head? Type in all your partners, for example, starting with the least recent. Try to remember birthdays. For each partner with whom you had offspring, type those in as well (in the column to the left). Again try to remember birthdays. Where they've in their turn partnered, repeat the process recursively (by which I mean repeat the whole sequence from the beginning).

You may, of course, still be sat with only your own name in the system. Never mind, don't despair, press on.

For everyone in the system who's still alive and has one or two parents missing from your record and you've not already asked them, email them and ask for the missing detail. Most will know, a few might burst into tears so be tactful. Use the words “family tree”. Quiz them on what they remember regarding relations. Add everything you learn and repeat recursively. Most especially, ask whether each person mentioned changed their name and if so from what to what. That happens a lot to women when they marry, for example.

Here's a list of questions to ask about each relation they bring to mind: “do you know where they lived, their formal names as well as just what they were called, their Birth, Marriages (with spouse names!) and Death dates and locations and a potted biography complete with gossip”.

Also ask whether they know any relative who has a family bible and may you have a photocopy of the handwriting in it please. (Treat the family details in relations' family bibles as accurate, add it all to your records as though it came from an accurate memory).

For every record you add or change, note where you got the information you're adding or changing. That's a vital integrity trail. Never ever fail to note your source.

If you actually do all that you'll have a far better start than most people setting out to unearth their ancestors.

More on what you're aiming for

I've put off using Internet sources until you've exhausted living memory. Now you need to consider what you've found.

You have a number of records. Some have fragmentary information and they might have missing parents. You'd like to fill in the missing detail.

The fewer generations between a missing parent and you, the more aesthetically unbalanced the tree will be if you don't fill that missing parent box. This gives you a measure of which missing information matters more and which matters less.

What to search for and where to do it: the Census

A number of ten-year-census returns are available for free search at FreeCEN - UK Census Online Project. For each of these in reverse date order (from 1891 back to 1841) do the following.

For each person on your tree born before the census date, try to find them using what information you have to progressively isolate the correct entry. If you locate the person you'll have their address, a list of that household they were living in on the night of the census, and their relationship to those others present. Add all those related people to your records. Add new information on the person you searched for to his record too (such as confirmation of his address on that census night).

Births, Marriages and Deaths

A number of Births, Marriages and Deaths between 1837 and the recent past are available for free search at FreeBMD Home Page. Search all of your records for which you're missing information and which might be in their system.

Birth will give the date, parents and location for each of your records missing any of those fields.

Marriage will give the date, location, sometimes give ages, sometimes give maiden name, sometimes give father's name, sometimes give mother's maiden name for each of your records missing any of those fields.

Death will give the date, age and location for each of your records missing any of those fields.

Treading in the footsteps of other searchers

Finally, a number of other Amateur Genealogists have posted their own records on RootsWeb's WorldConnect Project Global Search. Searching each of your records there will show you other family trees on which your missing person appears.

Scavenge, plunder and plagiarize but be sure, as always, to note your sources. It's a way to make fast progress but convince yourself for each new record that they're right – find a consensus – and eventually you'll be able to go back and check against professionally extracted register indices.

Bear in mind there are some right prats on rootsweb who get a lot wrong – it's the only source mentioned here which is untrustworthy.

The good news is that the further back in time you go, the more likely it is that another collector has their own interest in one of your ancestors.

Thoughts

One useful tip. Never guess or make assumptions. Every new record ought to be obviously correct with nothing fishy about it. If in doubt, by all means make a note but don't add a record. One bad record will not just lead you down a false trail, it will stop you looking for the right ancestor. One right ancestor is the gateway to a whole lot more right ancestors before that one.

Another useful tip. If you've reached this far and followed each step and you still only have yourself as the only record in your system, perhaps Amateur Genealogy is not for you. Have you tried Origami?

As a final note, you'll find that anyone on your family tree born since 1891 whom you can't identify using the collective memory of your relations or (if you're lucky) on rootsweb is going to be hard work writing in, and consequently you'll lose access to their branch of the family all the way back.

This guide is on how to get started. Perhaps we can expand later into what to do next if anyone's interested.
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jones jones
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Post by jones jones »

I've been trying to trace a family called Ward for months cos I have a journal I'd like to give to them if they are interested. As you say, one can easily get suckered into spending money to get anywhere/nowhere. These sites allow you to get in so far and no further and then you have to "cough up" some folding stuff.

I actually found a relative of the family I am looking for on a site but they wouldn't allow me to register as I had a ".com" e-mail address. Weird. I am trying to give an English family a journal written by one of their family in 1842, "give" being the operative word, so I am not gonna spend any money searching for these people.
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Post by Ahso! »

Nice how to, Spot. I don't intend to be a joy-kill but for anyone who does give this a go and is really serious about it, they will eventually come to a person who looks something like this;

> http://www.thelmagazine.com/images/blog ... tallan.jpg
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities,”

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spot
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Post by spot »

jones jones;1367816 wrote: These sites allow you to get in so far and no further and then you have to "cough up" some folding stuff.
Just to clarify that point, none of the four sites I've referenced ask for money at any stage. Not unless you follow an advertising link off-site, anyway.
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Post by fuzzywuzzy »

I've never had to pay money ....traced one grandparent back to the 17th century. Another back to the 11th century. Didn't pay a cent. That's because you can link up to other peoples family trees who are also searching . From my reseach, and mum being in a big official family book a bloke turned up to mum and dads house one day recently and asked if they had anymore info for his own research . Turns out my niece is married to her long distant cousin ....Weren't they shocked.lol My eldest boy is easy though...we got his lineage back to 1038, or more appropriatly 1443 AD
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Post by spot »

That paints a picture of a family tree with creepers, certainly.

There are few sentences in which I could introduce the idea of expanding what you have into a well-pruned bush and not get hammered for it but I'll give it a go. If you put your details into any sort of systematic representation where you're at one end and your remoter ancestors at another, you'll see missing ancestors near your end of the display. If you fill in a box at a time and then look for the next nearest blank you'll get balanced and the display will look more elegant.
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Post by FG »

The English now have a new resource, a register of Wills from 1858 to modern times which was released this week.

https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/#wills

I've been digging randomly and it shows up what I expect to see, which is pretty useful. The index searches are free, copies of the wills themselves are £10.


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Post by Bruv »

That is handy........forgotten where I put mine.
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Post by FG »

Bruv;1470265 wrote: That is handy........forgotten where I put mine.


You, unlike those indexed on the site, are in the immeasurably superior position of being able to write a fresh version.


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Post by Bruv »

FG;1470267 wrote: You, unlike those indexed on the site, are in the immeasurably superior position of being able to write a fresh version.


I'm alive, you mean ?

Save the world .......use less words
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Post by FG »

Bruv;1470275 wrote: I'm alive, you mean ?

Save the world .......use less words
I employed considerable time and thought in condensing that sentence to the bare minimum of words capable of conveying at least a rough approximation of my intended meaning, brevity being as ever the virtue foremost in my mind.


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Post by Bruv »

You must try harder.
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Post by FourPart »

I looked up my Father on there & it said "Grant Only". No idea what that means.
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Post by FG »

FourPart;1470295 wrote: I looked up my Father on there & it said "Grant Only". No idea what that means.Intestacy, I imagine. Someone applied for permission to wrap up the estate but there was no will to file.


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Post by FourPart »

FG;1470298 wrote: Intestacy, I imagine. Someone applied for permission to wrap up the estate but there was no will to file.
Not that I'm really bothered. I imagine that without a will everything would go to my Step-Mother, otherwise to me as the eldest Son, but as far as I'm concerned, my Kid Brother can have the lot. After all, he's the one with a family.
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Post by FG »

FourPart;1470301 wrote: Not that I'm really bothered. I imagine that without a will everything would go to my Step-Mother, otherwise to me as the eldest Son, but as far as I'm concerned, my Kid Brother can have the lot. After all, he's the one with a family.


https://www.gov.uk/inherits-someone-dies-without-will

That has the benefit of giving the right answer, I wouldn't dream of trying to describe the rules myself.


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Post by FourPart »

FG;1470304 wrote: https://www.gov.uk/inherits-someone-dies-without-will

That has the benefit of giving the right answer, I wouldn't dream of trying to describe the rules myself.
As I thought - the Step-Mother gets it all.
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Post by FG »

FourPart;1470307 wrote: As I thought - the Step-Mother gets it all.


If you ask those people who are uninvolved and were trusted, you might find they hold a copy of a will. If you do then you can override the current Probate arrangement by producing it. If you're surprised that there was none then it's possible you might resolve the conundrum.


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Post by FourPart »

He was an abusive bar steward & I would find it hypocritical to profit from his demise.

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