You will get to know your ancestors in a more intimate and meaningful way. To save and organize everything you find, choose an online genealogical database before you start conducting research. Several free and fee-based online genealogical databases are available, including Ancestry. Tip: To manage your family tree on the go, choose a software program or online database that has a companion mobile app, such RootsMagic or Ancestry. Professional genealogists are seasoned detectives: They look for clues, notice patterns, conduct research, and collect data to methodically solve mysteries and uncover family histories.
And, like detectives, these ancestry experts know that some of the most valuable clues in any quest often are hiding in plain sight—at home. Smolenyak suggests focusing your hunt in the attic, basement, and drawers where photos, documents, and personal correspondence may be stored.
Items with dates are especially helpful. Family memorabilia to look for and photograph if you do not have permission from the owner to take the item include old pictures, military records, diplomas and report cards, and of course diaries, postcards, and letters. Explain what you are doing and why, invite them to participate, and respect their wishes for how any item you discover will be handled, copied, or stored.
Plus, if you treasure hunt first and interview second, you will have artifacts to talk about with your relatives. The only problem with Kinpoint is that it takes a long time to load new layers of the circle. You can reserve the names right there in the app. However, it offers a wide array of personal family trees to draw from. Its negative point is that you have to enter your tree by hand. Progeny Geneology is a paid service that lets you organize your family tree into new ways. Sometimes all a breakthrough needs is a fresh perspective. With Find my Past, you can build a family tree, but its true value lies in its records.
8 Tips to Help Find Your Family Tree
They offer a selection of free records as well. Not every useful document has been indexed, and even indexed documents can overlook information that might be helpful for another name. Newspapers archives can yield valuable information, including obituaries, births, and marriages. You can find crucial death dates by checking military records. Registration documents are available on most sites for free, but check out Fold3 Military Records for a more detailed paid subscription. Odds are your family immigrated sometime on your family tree. Check out immigration documents to see if the whole family made the trip.
Death dates are a crucial detail required for doing temple work. Gravestones can also be your only photo connection to your ancestors, so check out these lists. Census records are crucial for finding missing children from your family tree. Most countries keep census records available for public use, but check out some of these records as well! Sign in. Log into your account. Forgot your password? Password recovery.
Getting Started in Genealogy and Family History
Militia recruitment was organised by the Lord Lieutenants of the counties and the actual lists drawn up by magistrates and parish constables. Under the Act, the constables were ordered to record the names of all men aged 18 to 50, with certain exclusions such as peers, clergy, teachers, apprentices and peace officers. In another Act in Parliament directed that no names should be excluded, though the upper age limit was reduced to 45 in The militia ballot lists, therefore, amounted virtually to a complete census of all adult males aged from 18 to 50 between and and aged between 18 and 45 from to Survival of these lists is far better in some counties than others, but you need a book details of which I shall give below to find out which have survived and where they are.
Two important sources for Yorkshire which I have personally consulted are the Craven Muster Rolls , which lists hundreds of men in the Craven area around Skipton and the Dales, and a book published by the North Yorkshire RO called "To Escape the Monster's Clutches", which gives details of the Whitby and Scarborough Volunteers in the s when Britain feared invasion by the French.
Muster Rolls sometimes give valuable additional information such as if a man had a handicap, like "blind" or "missing an arm". These were obviously important factors with regard to suitability for military service. One poor chap in the Craven Muster Rolls has the word "Idiot" alongside his name I reckon they probably made him an officer!
These Defence Lists, despite their name, were not lists of those intended for military service. Their intention was to organise reserves of men not already serving in a military capacity for the defence of Britain against a French invasion. They would have been needed to evacuate the civilian population, remove wildstock and crops from the path of the invaders, gather arms and equipment and deal with food supplies to the forces and civilian population. The Posse Comitatus and Levee en Masse lists were comprehensive records of all able-bodied men not already serving in the forces and aged between 15 and 60, whilst occupations such as millers, bakers, wagoners, barge owners etc - anyone who could be useful in certain ways - were also noted.
The Levee en Masse lists also listed all householders by name and sometimes occupation and age, with numbers of males and females in each house, and non-combatants who would need to be evacuated women, children, the old and infirm. Again, survival of these lists is spasmodic, but one outstanding example is that for the wapentake of Staincliffe with Ewcross in the West Riding, which lists 9, men aged from in The term "local census" means lists of people not connected with the official civil censuses of to Over parish listings giving names have been found for the , , and censuses.
Officially, these censuses were supposed to be statistical only, merely recording the number of inhabitants in a parish, but sometimes the compilers - Overseers of the Poor, clergy and teachers - were exceptionally conscientious and wrote down the names also. Sometimes they did this as a reference point, to ensure people were not repeated or omitted. Smart printers - particularly in London, Essex and Yorkshire - spotted a market and unofficially sold sets of forms with columns for the names of householders to be recorded.
The statistics only were sent to the central census authorities, but the forms and similar rough drafts containing names were sometimes kept in parish chests or in private hands and some have survived. Usually these unofficial censuses give heads of households only, but in a few fortunate cases full names and relationships were shown. One reason for keeping these unofficial censuses may have been to do with Poor Law administration. In some parishes only the householder is named, whilst others contain the names of all members of a household, with relationships. In a tax was introduced in births, marriages, burials, bachelors over 25 and childless widows in England and Wales, known as the Marriage Duties Act or Marriage tax.
A small number of these lists have survived in borough, parish and private records.
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The clergy were great compilers of lists for varying reasons, usually to do with assisting them in their duties as they went on their pastoral rounds. Visiting Books often included parishioners who were Non-conformists, details of households visited and sometimes even small sketch maps locating houses in the parish.
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Over the years these grew into social commentaries on whole communities. Whilst not exactly censuses in the strict sense of the word, they can contain a great many names. Sometimes they are amazingly detailed, with births, marriages, occupations, family relationships, employment, literacy, schooling, and even assessments of character. Easter Books and Communicants Lists, which are quasi-censuses, recorded all full members of the Church of England, normally from around the age of 10 or 12 in Tudor times, but later from about One reason for their existence was because the clergy received tithes from full members at Easter time.
The survival of these records is very patchy and varies from county to county, but they are well worth knowing about. This booklet lists the whereabouts of the above and other types of local census listings throughout the UK and Ireland. The hearth tax returns are a major source of information for the mid to late 17th century. The tax was levied twice a year at Lady Day, March 25 - the official start of the New Year until - and Michaelmas, September 29, between and During this time the tax was the government's major source of revenue.
It was literally a tax on the number of hearths in a household. It was always very unpopular in the country and was abolished in Each hearth was taxed at the rate of two shillings a year, but those who were too poor to pay it were exempt, as were charitable institutions like hospitals and almshouses. The great value of the hearth tax returns is that they give not only the names of householders but the numbers of hearths they were taxed upon, thus giving some indication of their relative wealth and social status.
Unfortunately, many of the returns have not survived, those that have being the returns from and The originals are held at the Public Record Office, but most of the hearth tax returns for Yorkshire have been published by the Ripon Historical Society in about a dozen booklets, divided by wapentakes.
Poor Law records, settlement certificates, church wardens' accounts, and various other parish records, are all valuable sources for the family historian. A settlement certificate showed that a person had a right to legal settlement in a particular parish.
Usually, these records were kept in the parish chest and today are to be found mostly in County Record Offices. However, in Yorkshire their survival is spasmodic, since many parishes were so large that the unit of local administration was the township, rather than the parish. Thus, many records have not survived, having been scattered over a wide area. This is a large and complex field, which I do not have the space to develop here.
In general terms, wills are another tremendously valuable source, since they often reveal family details and relationships of beneficiaries to the testator. A large number of Yorkshire wills and letters of administration are held at the Borthwick Institute, York, while those for the Archdeaconry of Richmond are at the West Yorkshire Archives at Sheepscar, Leeds. In both cases, however, we are talking of wills before Many Mormon FHCs hold copies of wills.
An Act of authorised the publication of copies of the poll at elections, showing how each elector had voted. This may surprise some people but, in fact, secret elections were not introduced until The intention of the Act was to prevent fraud and corruption by candidates and returning officers. The lists are normally arranged by hundreds - or wapentakes in the case of Yorkshire - and normally show the name of each voter, residence, place of qualification to vote and which candidate he voted for.
The qualification to be a voter was the ownership of property worth at least 40 shillings. A number of poll books for Yorkshire have been published, among the most important being those for for the whole county and the West Riding Poll Book After the Reform act of , electoral registers were published of persons entitled to vote different to poll books, which revealed how people had voted. These were later also called burgess rolls. Most local libraries possess copies for their area, many being complete from Victorian times up to the present day.
Trade and commercial directories have been published since the late 17th century. They are yet another valuable source for family historians. They list all the traders in a particular place, plus lists of the gentry, clergy, professional people and other important figures.
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One of the best known publications for Yorkshire is Baines' History, Directory and Gazetteer of the County of York, published in two volumes in This is a prodigious work, giving the history of every major town in the county, with long lists of commercial people, traders, gentry and leading citizens for each one. A great many villages are also featured. THIS is perhaps the one thing that flummoxes newcomers to genealogy more than anything else. To understand the IGI and how it works, you must first understand what it is and what it is not. The IGI did not start out as an index for genealogists; it has become one by the goodwill of the LDS Church in making it available to all, whether church members or not.