Where to begin with your family tree research can be daunting, but the starting point is actually yourself:

  • your birth name
  • your date of birth
  • your place of birth
  • the names of your parents

If you have your full birth certificate (rather than a short birth certificate), it will give you these details, which is the basic information from which I can begin to help you.

You may also have the names and dates of birth of your grandparents, which will take the starting point back one generation.  Talk to your parents, grandparents, and other family members, as they may be willing to share family histories and anecdotes.  You (or other family members) may have photographs, letters, marriage certificates, wills and other documents, perhaps a family bible, or any other materials that will help in the search.  Collect as much information as you can and write down the family stories or anecdotes – or better still, you may be able record these stories about your family.

You need to decide whether you want to trace your family name or any other particular line of ancestry.  This is because although you have four grandparents, and eight great-grandparents, the lines of research double with each generation (32, 64, 128, etc), so the possibilities are daunting – and that doesn’t include the extended family (such as aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins).

There are an overwhelming number of websites, of varying levels of usefulness, that can be used to aid the research.  They can all be very confusing, and I have spent a good deal of time sorting out which are the most useful and easily accessible.  With the sort of information that you may have acquired from your initial investigation (as outlined above) I would expect to be able to move ahead fairly quickly to build up a more detailed record of your ancestors.