Search Tools


Here I shall describe some of the tools available for your research, and describe some of the pros and cons in using them. Please take a look at the Links page for a full list of online sources.


Familysearch / IGI- this is a great resource and you'll find you use this a lot, however it is not complete - so don't rely on the fact a record is absent as proof of something that has/hasn't happened.


Census records - very powerful for find people (in England/Wales) back to 1841, you can use to determine where people were living, what their occupations were, as well as getting clues for other aspect of life, e.g. you're trying to determine the maiden names of an ancestor, from the wedding records you've narrowed it down to 2, you've splashed out and ordered both marriage certificates, on one you realise that one of the witnesses, sounds familiar and lived on the same street as your ancestor in the 1861 census- bingo!  Watch out for transcription errors.  If you have a way of backing up your census evidence, do so, just in case you find yourself following a collection of cousins who share a set of family names.


Birth/marriage/death records - there is freeBMD which contains the registers for England and Wales, but there are also regional registers which do contain more information, e.g. mother's maiden name pre 1913.  Bear in mind that these registers are not always complete.


'google' and other internet search engines - these can help in other ways, you might find other people researching your family, or other references to your family (e.g. were they deported for some crime recorded in the Old Bailey records???)


Gravestones - Gravestone inscriptions often contain quite a lot of family information, e.g. first son of xxx, husband of yyy.  Many have been transcribed so a trip to the local 'family history centre' may prove fruitful.  Even a wander around the local cemetery might yield some success


Family History Centres - There are more and more of these popping  up around the place and can be a great place if your researching that area. They often contain info about local industry maps and may have an archive of photos to peruse.


Regional Record Offices - Here are kept many official records such as wills, records of coroners reports, court barons, indentures etc.  Though sometimes have limited opening times!

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