01935 429609
Somerset & Dorset
Family History Society

Getting Started

How to trace your family tree

Genealogy is a fascinating hobby and thanks to the records on line, it’s incredibly easy to get started. But it is a good idea to join your local family history society for support and advice, which you cannot obtain sitting at a computer on your own!

Begin your family history research today by following these simple steps:

‘www’ below means that you should consult the main online resources such as: www.thegenealogist.co.ukwww.findmypast.co.uk or www.ancestry.co.uk but you need to be aware that they do charge for information beyond initial searches.

Discover birth, marriage and death dates – www

Gather information from census records – www

1939 register – www

Find additional detail in newspaper reports – www

Get back further with parish records – www

Greater depth in tracing your ancestors and links to useful sites can be accessed here.                

The Federation of Family History Societies

The FFHS represent, advise and support family history societies, see First Steps in Family History. Also their really useful information leaflet which gets updated regularly.

Visit the BBC Web Site

The Family History section of the BBC History web site provides an excellent introduction to researching your family history complete with video guide and case studies. Visiting the site will provide you with a sound understanding of what is involved in tracing your ancestors in an entertaining and easy to understand form.

Genealogical Software

Once you have gone back more than a few generations, you will probably find it helpful to buy a genealogical software package to help keep your data in order. This will also enable you to generate genealogical charts and family trees. This website compares some of the free programmes available. There are also many commercial packages, for reviews of the most popular see here. Also Wikipedia overview here.

Further help

Don’t forget that the help and advice of SDFHS Volunteers is only an e-mail away.