British Family History Research 2009


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An introduction to general principles and records for starting family history research in the British Isles.

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British Family History Research 2009

  1. 1. British Family History Research By Darris Williams
  2. 2. Research Process <ul><li>Write down what you know. </li></ul><ul><li>Decide what you want to learn. </li></ul><ul><li>Choose the record to search. Use the Family History Library catalog. http:// </li></ul><ul><li>More direct help is available at for all aspects of your research and most areas of the world. </li></ul><ul><li>After searching a record write down what you learned and start the process again. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Get Organized <ul><li>Research Logs: track the sources you look at and what you search for and the date. </li></ul><ul><li>Cite Your Sources including: Title, Author, Library or Record Office reference number so that you and others can go back to the original. </li></ul><ul><li>Write a report: what you did, what you learned, and what you want to do next. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Historical Background/Context <ul><li>National: The book Chronicle of Britain incorporating A Chronicle of Ireland , Ref 942 H2cb. </li></ul><ul><li>County: Victoria History of the Counties of England . </li></ul><ul><li>Local: Many books on a parish or village </li></ul><ul><li>Online sources: http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Search engines http:// / and http:// / Be sure to search for the village or town, parish, county and country. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Family history without maps is like painting with your eyes closed. <ul><li>You should have maps of the general area ( http:// ) and parishes where your ancestor lived. </li></ul><ul><li>Online sources such as provide a variety of maps published at various dates, some with excellent detail. </li></ul><ul><li>Find a current map of the area. </li></ul><ul><li>Find one published close to the time your ancestors lived in the area. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Gazetteers <ul><li>Gazetteers are a dictionary of place names. Start with the one used as the Family History Library Catalog spelling standard for the country. </li></ul><ul><li>England – Imperial Gazetteer at http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Ireland – General Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns... of Ireland , Ref 941.5 X22g </li></ul><ul><li>Scotland – The Gazetteer of Scotland , Ref 941 E5j </li></ul><ul><li>Wales – Welsh Administrative and Territorial Units , FHL 6026396 or Ref 942.9 E5w or </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Use gazetteers published at different times: </li></ul><ul><li>A Topographical Dictionary of England ( 1808 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Topographical Dictionary of England ( 1831 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales ( 1875 to 1878 ) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Research Helps <ul><li>Classes offered at the Family History Library. A monthly list is available at the library and at </li></ul><ul><li>Research guidance is available at in written articles or the forums where you can ask questions specific to your research. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Searching the Family History Library Catalog <ul><li>Search at all geographic levels: </li></ul><ul><li>Parish </li></ul><ul><li>County </li></ul><ul><li>Country </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>An overlap in jurisdictions cause the record to be categorized at the next larger level. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Records to Start With <ul><li>The four basic records: </li></ul><ul><li>Census </li></ul><ul><li>Civil registration </li></ul><ul><li>Church records </li></ul><ul><li>Probates </li></ul><ul><li>The start dates, record survival and population coverage will vary from one country to another. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Census <ul><li>Time: 1841-1911 (some earlier) </li></ul><ul><li>Content: residence, name marital condition, age, occupation and birthplace. </li></ul><ul><li>Availability: England & Wales 1841 & 1851: http:// =0 </li></ul><ul><li>England, Wales, Scotland, Isle of Man, Channel Islands 1841-1901 indexes and images: =30795&o_lid=30795 </li></ul>
  12. 12. Civil Registration <ul><li>England & Wales began registering births, marriages and deaths with the government on 1 July 1837. Indexes are available online to about 1930 at http:// . </li></ul><ul><li>Some of the post 1836 marriages can be found listed in the IGI and on microfilm. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Civil Registration <ul><li>Ireland began registering protestant marriages in 1845, and then in 1864 national registration of births, marriages and deaths began for everyone in Ireland. Indexes to these records have recently been made available at http:// =0 Some of the actual certificates are on microfilm. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Civil Registration <ul><li>Scotland began national registration of births, marriages and deaths in 1855. </li></ul><ul><li>Indexes and certificates are available at http:// / or on microfilm but the online prices and ease of searching make the free microfilm seem inconvenient and costly in time spent doing the searches. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Church Records <ul><li>Before civil registration, church records are the best source of family information. Dates of availability vary for each country and parish. Many christenings and marriages are indexed in the IGI, Vital Records Index and Record Search at http:// </li></ul><ul><li>or http:// =0 . </li></ul>
  16. 16. Probates <ul><li>Only about 10% of people left a will, but nearly 50% were mentioned in a will. </li></ul><ul><li>The extra effort to use these records is extremely important for solving research road blocks. </li></ul><ul><li>Go to for details about probate records for a specific country. </li></ul>