Trace your family tree

There are many reasons why one would choose to embark on the potentially enormous yet exciting task to trace your family tree. The most common reason is to understand one’s self better by knowing where one comes from, which in turn can help establish a strengthened sense of belonging or simply provide answers to where some of those unexplained quirky characteristics come from.

The most logical point of departure is with yourself and your immediate family. You may have to conjure up memories of relatives you’ve tried to forget or have pretended not to know for the passed 10 years. Family stories are also a very good source of valuable information, there are certain places that may be mentioned in the stories where you can start looking for relatives in the event that you reach a dead end. This could include branching out into other families in cases where children were born out of wedlock for example or in situations where some relatives were adopted.

Official records can also be very helpful when looking to trace your family tree. In the UK, records of births and deaths can be retrieved from the Register Offices. These records can be useful in that not only will one get the exact years and days but one can also get full details of both parents on a birth certificate. Other records to look at will include marriage certificates and census findings which will require demographic details as information is classified in that manner.

Up until this point, you would have gathered information up until the early 1800s. In order to search for earlier information, one would have to look at the religious sect and determine what views your relatives held and see if the churches have any records of births, baptisms, marriages and deaths. mentions that there are records dating back as far as 1541 for Ireland. You may also extend your search by looking up militia and navy records, and by looking into any records that may help you trace any relatives that may have emigrated (the national archives research guide could be a good place to start.)

One shouldn’t expect to trace your family tree in a matter of days, as more often than not a lot of information is lost over the years especially since most of it is captured in memory and the validity or origin of some of the stories told to you may be questionable. The experience in itself however, of tracing your family tree, can serve to be one or the most rewarding .

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