Archive for the ‘First steps’ Category

How to start your family tree, using Findmypast

March 8, 2015

Interested in starting your own family tree? I’ve put together this video guide to show you how to get going.

You can use the birth, marriage, death and census records I mention in the video by signing up for Findmypast’s 14 day free trial.

You’ll need to enter payment details, but just cancel the day before the expiry date through the ‘My Account’ section of the website and you won’t be charged.



I’ve been tracing my own family history for about six years – my paternal Silk ancestors feature in the video. I really hope you find it useful.


Trace your family tree in 10 steps

July 23, 2010

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on a project to show family history newbies exactly how you can start researching your family tree with I’ve used an example from my own ancestry – my paternal Silk line – and have actually managed to trace my tree back to about 1794 using these 10 steps.

To take a look at my progress, simply click on the image below and a powerpoint presentation will start downloading.

If you then select ‘notes page’ in the ‘view’ section of the tool bar at the top of the screen, you’ll be able to see my notes along with the images on the presentation itself. Alternatively, if you wanted to print the presentation, simply select ‘notes pages’ in the drop down box under ‘print what’ and it will print both my notes and the images.

I hope you find it interesting – let me know what you think!

‘Begin with what you know’

August 10, 2009

If there’s one thing I’ve picked up while working at findmypast, it’s definitely this tip! Honestly, ask absolutely anybody involved in genealogy and they’ll all tell you the same thing, “start with what you know”. It’s very easy to try to run before you can walk when starting family history research (particularly if you have any juicy family rumours doing the rounds!) but the advice I’ve been given has been very clear; don’t try to work forwards from a rumoured famous ancestor, always work backwards from yourself.

So, what exactly do I know? While I’d love to pretend that this blog’s bound to unearth all sorts of illustrious relatives, the truth is that I know very little about my ancestors and, sadly, am yet to hear any rumours of blue blood! What I do know are the names and some birth, marriage and death dates of the family members I’ve grown up with (and have needed to buy birthday presents for!). These include my parents, paternal grandparents and great-grandparents, though my memory of birthdays, marriages and maiden names gets progressively hazier the further back I try to remember.

I don’t really know anything about my mum’s family aside from my maternal grandparents’ names so will need to speak to her to gather further information about them. Likewise, the next step I’ll take to trace my paternal family is to speak to my nan. She should be able to tell me about the family she grew up with, plus fill in the blanks in my own memory. I suspect that she may also have a few photos and birth, marriage and death certificates lurking around – if I flutter my eyelashes, I’m sure she’d let me take copies of them.

In the meantime, I’ve set up a couple of family trees online to help keep track of the information I’m starting to gather – I can just imagine how confused I’m going to get if I don’t keep everything together! I’ve set myself up with one using findmypast’s family tree software, family tree explorer, and have also registered with Genes Reunited.

Starting my family tree using family tree explorer

Starting my family tree with family tree explorer

Where do I start?!

July 27, 2009

This blog… my family history… quite a fitting title, I thought!

Although I’m new to this family history malarkey, I do have a vested interest. I love history – I studied it at university and am particularly fascinated by the social side, by how people of past generations lived. I suppose family history does go hand-in-hand with social history as it’s really a way of establishing what life was like for our ancestors, isn’t it? I’ve certainly fancied getting involved for a while, particularly since the Who Do You Think You Are television programme started, but have never quite known where to begin.

The lucky thing is, I now work for UK family history website, . That’s why, as I now have millions of records at my fingertips and an understanding of the different types available, I thought it would be a great idea to chart the progress I make with my research via the medium of this blog. I do hope it will be useful for the other newbies like me out there and that the family history experts amongst you might be willing to lend a hand here and there. I’d very much appreciate any hints and tips you may have so please do leave me a comment or two!