"Each has his own tree of ancestors, but at the top of all sits Probably Arboreal." - Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A few useful websites...

Following on from On my friend Google, I thought I would share a few of my online genealogy gems. I hope you find some of them useful...
Ancestor-search is a great starting point for new genealogists, and a one-stop shop for links to the major established information centres across the UK and internationally.
Mad About Genealogy is packed with interesting news and links from all over UK, including a twitter feed. I’ve only just discovered this one and I’m looking forward to getting lots of use out of it.
Genuki should definitely be your first stop for genealogy info on any locality in the UK. Will point you in the right direction for any available sources, online and offline, as well as give you some basic parish info.
Wikipedia is hardly a revelation to anyone, but I would always recommend it for basic fact checks and local history and colour. Do remember though, it isn’t always reliable - I try to back it up with other sources where possible!
I would highly recommend searching the National Archives Catalogue – I have found photographs of my ancestors, divorce records that I would otherwise never have known about, and printed works produced by my ancestors all hidden away – and that’s only from one small branch of my tree! I’m also thoroughly enjoying their new blog, which documents interesting finds, their work and how they can help you. I will be consulting some of their research guides, which I only found out about through their blogging.
I’ve also recently had success on the British Newspaper Archive. Its search function seems to work really well, and you can buy reasonably-priced credits in varying amounts and over varying timescales to suit your needs.
I love GBnames. Search for your surname in 1881 to find out where it is most concentrated in the country. I’ve generally found that a surname location in 1881 is accurate for at least the couple of generations previously, so if someone with a random surname pops up it can give you a good idea of where to look for their ancestors. It’s also just really interesting. For example, the Hampshire surname in my tree is almost entirely clustered n West Yorkshire, so it seems probable that they are all descended from a single family and have been Yorkshire-based for many generations.
Parish records are so important in genealogy, especially pre-1837, which is why I applaud the Online Parish Clerks. These awesome people voluntarily transcribe and make available online parish records from various places across the country. Unfortunately the coverage is fairly low at the moment, but if an area you need is covered it can be invaluable.
However, if your area doesn’t have an OPC yet, FamilySearch can be incredibly useful. They’ve got a shiny new website and search function, which I have to admit I’ve found a bit tricky so far. If you haven’t used Familysearch before, give it a try. But I would warn you to take the results with a pinch of salt, and always try to confirm by referring to parish records etc.
Genealogy forums can also be useful. I have most often used Rootschat, which organises its boards by topic, and Curiousfox, which is organised by location – this can be great for tapping into local knowledge.
L x
I’ve also recently joined Genealogy Wise, a ‘social network’ for genealogists, though I haven’t had much opportunity to explore yet.

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