How to trace your family history on


It’s easier than ever to trace your ancestry, using online church records to DNA kits

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If you discover information about one of your ancestors on an internet forum or online tree, always double check the facts before adding the data to your own tree. You can search for certificates for each of these events using the free General Register Office indexes at websites such as Freereg. A birth certificate will give you the names and occupation of the parents your next generation of ancestors ; marriage certificates provide age and occupations, plus details of the father of the bride and groom another generation ; whilst death certificates give age and cause of death.

The National Archives catalogue allows you to search 32 million records to find out where in the UK and online more than 2, different archives are located. If your findings are mainly recorded electronically, use a memory stick as a safeguard should you lose access to your data. Even the most experienced family historians face research challenges.


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Online forums can be a great source of help and encouragement, or consider leaving the query and moving to another branch of your tree, coming back to look at the problem with a fresh eye further down the line. One of the best things about tracing your ancestors is that this is a quest which you can enjoy for years to come. We wish you the very best on your ancestral adventures and we're always here to help you along the way.

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For access to some databases you also have to pay a fee. Like Ancestry, it works best when you use it in collaboration with the parent website, but it is still effective on its own. It is similar to and asks for the same sort of information as the Ancestry app, but it is less attractive. MyHeritage also has nice extras like letting you share smartphone photos. A research system that uses several types of databases to find information on your ancestors is built into the app.

It is powerful — it found the right entry for my father even with limited inputs. It also turned up several hits from a long time ago in Philadelphia, which is interesting because family lore suggests I am related to people who were early settlers there. As well as exploring the various categories of records that the family historian can turn to, Chris Paton illustrates their use with fascinating case studies. He fully explores the online records available from both the north and the south from the earliest times to the present day. Many overseas collections are also included, and he looks at social networking in an Irish context where many exciting projects are currently underway.

His book is an essential introduction and source of reference for anyone who is keen to trace their Irish roots.

Trace your family history online – 13 sites and apps for researching your family tree

Strongly recommended as a reference for everyone researching their Irish family history online. Packed with information and web addresses a remarkable amount is covered in the 10 chapters, pp, of regular text.


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  • Read the full review here. There's an amazing amount of information crammed into pages.

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    This revised guide will be really useful for anyone with Irish roots seeking the latest information about the records. As featured on Register of Qualified Genealogists.

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    This newly updated and expanded second edition of "Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians" is an essential introduction and source of reference for anyone who is keen to trace their Irish roots and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Genealogy Research collections. This is a useful guide that navigates you through the research process no matter what your level of experience is, as it caters for the beginner and advanced alike.

    This latest title in Pen and Sword's most excellent genealogy library is one of the very best I have ever read, with thoroughly practical examples of websites where you can get information from, in many cases for no cost you'll notice I avoided using the very wrong phrase "for free"! The websites mentioned have genuinely free information, and they all work. Chris Paton has written a brilliantly useful book - we happen to have Irish ancestry in our family, and will be delving into this information just as soon as we have the time.


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