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at your fingertips GeNeAloGy iN the DiGitAl AGE Essential websites to search How-to projects & guides Key records made easy Research, share & treasure the past


• Create a free family tree • Find missing ancestors • Plus the latest info on DNA, apps and social media tips

New ways to discover your ancestors online


Chapter 6 Military leads


Chapter 1 Starting your research


Chapter 7 Your genetic journey

8 The basic records 10 How to search the census 12 The census dissected 14 BMD certificates dissected 16 How to order a BMD certificate 18 Brickwall-busters!


80 What can your genes tell you?

Chapter 8 Your family photos


Chapter 2 Growing your family tree


66 Researching your military ancestor 70 War memorials 72 World War I Army records dissected 74 Identifying a military medal

22 How to use your CD - Getting started with MyHeritage software 24 Grow your tree in the cloud 28 Minding your manners

88 Photographs timeline 1840s-1930s 94 How to identify clues in old photos 96 Scan your old photos 98 Curating your family albums 100 Film in the digital age

Chapter 9 Study time


Chapter 3 Discover your family history with MyHeritage


32 Discover how MyHeritage can help you in 10 easy steps...

Chapter 10 Getting specialist


Chapter 4 Getting to grips with social media

36 Your CD Turn to page 22 to discover how to use your CD.

38 Using social media for family history 42 Get more from Facebook 44 Twitter dissected 46 Blogging for beginners 48 Top family history blogs to follow 50 Discover forums

116 The value of libraries 118 Discover Discovery 120 Society of Genealogists 122 Reaching out 124 Organising your family history 128 Apps for family history

Chapter 11 Your family stories & memories


Chapter 5 Where to look next


106 Online courses, webinars, wikis & more

54 Discover FamilySearch 56 Trade directories 58 Passenger lists 60 Newspapers dissected 62 Finding graves

134 Creating family treasures 138 Chat & connect worldwide for free 140 Your family history on YouTube 142 Your family history sound archives 144 Looking after your family heirlooms 146 Continue your journey

About Family Tree Find out about Family Tree online (page 51), in print and digital issues (page 77) and how to subscribe and save with Family Tree (page 112).

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Starting Starting your your research research

1891 Census

Page & folio numbers

This is an example of a page from the 1891 Census for England and Wales.

68: Each sheet of a census piece has a folio number, which when combined with the piece number will identify where you found your ancestor in the census. Page 21: There are also page numbers (two page numbers per folio). So the precise census reference for this particular page is RG12/3770/68/21.

Headers The headers across the top of the page tell us that these households were in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in the civil and ecclesiastical parish of Ardsley, and the rural sanitary district and parliamentary borough of Barnsley.

Columns 1 Household schedule number; 2 Street and house number; 3-5 Whether the house was inhabited or uninhabited, and the number of rooms occupied if less than five; 6 Name and surname of each person; 7 Relation to head of family; 8 Marital condition; 9-10 Ages of males and females; 11 Profession or occupation; 12-14 Whether employer, employed or neither; 15 Where born; 16 Whether ‘deaf-and-dumb’, ‘blind’ or ‘lunatic, imbecile or idiot’.

Top tip

Among the many other details recorded on the census about our ancestors are their ages. But these aren’t always what you might expect. In the 1841 Census, while ages up to 15 years old were recorded accurately, the ages of people older than that were rounded down to the nearest five years, eg a 32-year-old person would be recorded as being 30 years old.

The census dissected Find out just how much you can learn from census records by following our simple guide.

Reference number RG12: The National Archives’ class number for 1891. 3770: The enumeration books were bound into volumes – known as census pieces – of up to 200 sheets. 3770 is the unique number for this census piece.

Diagonal lines Double diagonal lines distinguish between different households, while a short single diagonal line separates families living in the same house or building. In the 1851 Census, horizontal lines were used across the page instead.

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Getting Getting to to grips grips with with social social media media Social media allows people to communicate and share information. Perfect for family historians who love to share what they know, seek help with brickwalls and keep in touch with new found relatives around the globe. Discover how social media can take your family history research in new directions.


ocial media includes popular social networking websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as blogs, forums, wikis, photo and video sharing sites and tree sharing sites. Not many of us live within a few doors of other family members; we can’t catch up with all the latest community news at the local greengrocer’s and we don’t have as much free time as we’d like to spend at the local library or archive. Social media is what connects us in our modern age. It is not a waste of time or meaningless. Yes, there is a fair bit of banal conversation or pointless status updates to be found, but as with any conversation over a pint in the pub, filter out the nonsense and there are wonderful stories to be found or fascinating facts to be learned. Social media is all about making use of the internet to connect with people you want to be in touch with – friends, family and fellow family historians – and it allows you to share your family history in whatever ways you choose, with the people you choose. Perhaps more importantly, it allows you to learn continuously. Follow blogs, tweets and status updates from individual family historians and genealogy companies and you will never fail to discover something new. There are a vast number of social networks, with more and more popping up all the time, while others disappear. It would not be possible to keep up with all the different networks even if you wanted to, but there are some clear leaders in popularity that can be exploited for their family history potential. Each one has its own identity and focus, so you may find you get on better with some more than others. If you decide one site is great for networking, but can’t tolerate another, that’s fine, don’t feel obliged to use it. But it’s certainly worth investigating to see what’s out

there and what kinds of information can be found. Any network is worth trying for a period of time, to make sure you’re not missing out on something that could be truly helpful to your research. Some of the most useful social networks for family history include:

Twitter Twitter calls itself an ‘information network’, connecting you to people and organisations who share information in 140-character tweets. Tweets can include photos and videos as well as text, and often include links to more detailed stories elsewhere online. The beauty of Twitter is that tweets have to be kept short, and you don’t have to tweet yourself. Simply sign up to follow accounts you’re interested

      in association with


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Where to to look look next next Where


We’ve got 753 records in the results here for William Peters in newspapers in the South West of England. You can narrow searches by publication, article type and public tags, or scroll through reading the ‘taster’ for each one to gauge if it might apply to your ancestor. If you have a subscription, you don’t have to worry about costs, but each view costs five credits otherwise, and you don’t want to waste them. Click ‘View’ underneath the page(s) you have selected.

Newspapers dissected From birth announcements to obituaries, and football match reports to local disasters, newspapers are a rich source to help you fill in the gaps in your family’s story.

In the news


hen it comes to family history in the digital age, the old adage of today’s news being ‘tomorrow’s chip paper’ no longer holds true, thanks to the increasing availability of newspapers online. The British Newspaper Archive at www. has a growing collection of digitised historic newspapers from the British Library (at the time of writing nearly 7 million pages had been uploaded, spanning three centuries) and this important database is also online at Searches are free and the news


To search on’s British Newspapers 1710-1953 collection, type in your search criteria, such as your ancestor’s name and, if you want, the county (although remember ‘less is more’ – you can always start by searching all the newspapers and narrow down your search terms later). Click ‘Search tips’ for advice. Click ‘Search’.


The story you are interested in will be highlighted. You can download or print the image. Tools on the left-hand side will allow you to zoom in and out, move up and down or make the image full screen.

Other digitised archives 

pages can then be viewed via credits or subscription (or for free on-site at the British Library and possibly your local library, if it subscribes to findmypast).

Search tip

Some historical newspapers worldwide can be also searched in findmypast’s US & World newspaper collections.

The Times Archive 1785-1985 is behind the newspaper’s paywall (subscription required) but may be accessible for free at your local library.  Welsh Newspapers Online is a free online newspaper project from the National Library of Wales.  The London Gazette is part of a free archive of digitised Gazettes (Belfast and Edinburgh editions also available), the official newspaper of the Government, which dates back to the 17th century. You may find details of your ancestors’ military and civil honours, legal notices, bankruptcy, insolvency and more.  The Irish Newspaper Archive is a pay-per-view website

giving online access to digitised Irish newspapers from the 1700s to the present day.  The Scotsman Digital Archive gives pay-per-view online access to editions of The Scotsman back to 1817.  The Trove website from the National Library of Australia boasts a large free archive of digitised Australian newspapers from 1803-1954, which contained more than 11 million pages at the time of publication.  The MyHeritage Newspaper Archive is one of the world’s largest online newspaper collections with more than 120 million searchable newspaper pages from 1609 to the present day.

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Military Military leads leads

   

WWI stats

For further stats on ‘The Military Effort of the British Empire During the Great War’ read the PDF at

Many of our ancestors served in the armed forces in the First and Second World Wars, and the records that have been kept about them make for fascinating research. To discover how to search for your soldiers, sailors and airmen from among the millions who served, read on...

has numerous downloadable leaflets to help with Air Force personnel research (click on the Research tab, then scroll down to Research Enquiries). The Royal Naval Museum,, provides similar information for Naval personnel – select Research, then Research FAQs. Associations and research groups also exist for many units. In addition there are message boards, such as the British Legion’s Lost Trails, where you can submit the details of former service personnel and long-lost military colleagues that you’d like to contact: remembrance/lost-trails.

Discover Army museums at

Tommies & Co


ere we’re going to touch on the key archives and records that you’ll need to start researching your military ancestors in the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. The main archive for researching military ancestors is likely to be The National Archives (TNA), Kew. Army records at TNA are held in the War Office department (WO), while Navy ones are in the Admiralty records (ADM) and the Air Force ones

are in AIR. Increasingly the records you need to search are being digitised and made available online. However, visits to the archives are still a core part of military research today. In addition, there are exceptions, such as the post early 1920s’ service records, that are still held by the Ministry of Defence, and can only be ordered. To fill out further details of your ancestors’ wartime experiences, unit war diaries and ships’ logs provide useful daily accounts, and,

while the majority of individuals aren’t mentioned by name in such journals, they do help to provide details about the wider wartime context. Regimental museums also hold publications valuable to adding to your understanding of your ancestor’s war. The Army Museums Ogilby Trust,, provides links and contact details for 136 Army museums. The RAF Museum website,, meanwhile

You might have heard of the ‘burnt’ records – the World War I soldiers’ service records (WO 363), the majority of which were destroyed following a bombing raid on the War Office archive in 1940. However, the burnt records weren’t totally destroyed and those that survive are searchable on, as are the World War I soldiers’ pension records (WO 364). On Ancestry there is also the Medal Index Card collection, which provides the most comprehensive roll of those that served in the First World War – officers and men, Army and Air Force, those that died and those that survived. As with the soldiers’ service records, the majority of the officers’ service records were destroyed in the

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Your Your genetic genetic journey journey

Understanding genetic coding

Over time mutations occur in our genes, and these have been allocated alphanumeric coding by geneticists. For example about 19,000 years ago a mutation called R1b occurred in the Y chromosome of a single male, the descendants of whom proliferated and spread into Western Europe, where today R1b (referred to as a haplogroup) occurs in most Western European males. Other mutations arose among the descendants of R1b – one such mutation called R1b1a2 occurred around 8,000 years ago and is today found concentrated in males from the Balkan area of Europe. Given the human obsession with classifying everything you can see how new letters and numbers are added to your DNA results until you end up with a code such as R1b1a2a1a2 for a British ancestor. A similar nomenclature is applied to the DNA results that explore female lines.

What can your genes tell you? DNA testing has opened up a whole new world for the modern genealogist. But there are a bewildering array of tests and a large number of testing companies to choose from, so where do you begin? We’ll help you choose which one to take and show what it might reveal about your genetic inheritance.


NA testing can be a very powerful tool, unearthing long forgotten family history, and – most amazingly of all – it can potentially pinpoint precisely where your ancestors lived thousands of years ago, and also identify close relations today.

The genetic journey To understand how your genes can help your genealogy first we must explore the history of modern humans. We all know that modern humans emerged out of Africa, but this movement was gradual, with waves of migration that scientists are only now

beginning to decipher by studying the DNA of people from all over the world. If a genealogist could go back far enough they would discover that we all share a common male and female ancestor. Scientists estimate that the female ‘Eve’ (from whom all modern human females are descended) lived approximately 200,000 years ago, while our male ‘Adam’ appears much older. Since we are all descended from these two individuals we share the same DNA – DNA that mutates slowly over time. Scientists can therefore compare the DNA from two people and estimate when their shared male or female ancestor lived by noting which mutations their DNA test results both show. But these timeframes of thousands of years are really beyond our comprehension. We want to know how relative are these relatives to us. What we need are the DNA results to shed light on our ancestral journey more recently, say from the time when recorded history began. Recorded history in Britain begins with the arrival of the Romans in AD43. From an ancestral DNA point of view this resulted in an influx to Britain of people from all over the Roman world with exotic

DNA markers (or haplogroups) denoted by, for example, the letters ‘J’ and ‘G’. These letters literally denote specific DNA mutations that are particularly prevalent in the Arab world and Caucasus respectively. The population of ancient Britons was relatively homogenous, however, known by its genetic label R1b1a2a1a2. Such codes can help us understand our ancestral journey and our British origins. If, for example, a DNA test revealed that your male ancestors were R1b1a2a1a2 you could assume that your father’s line was part of the pre-historic people who inhabited the British Isles. In contrast if you know that your paternal genealogical trail stretches back to Chester in England and your DNA reveals an exotic haplogroup G, a quick search of the internet will reveal Chester’s Roman origins (a Roman Legionary Fort existed there for 400 years). This then raises the possibility that your father’s line was descended from Roman settlers in Britain. The Romans were followed by the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, and, after a time, by the Vikings, and eventually by their distant cousins the Normans who arrived from France with their Flemish and Breton allies. Each of these new arrivals carried additional DNA markers. For example, haplogroup‘I’ is particularly prevalent among Scandinavian populations and its presence in people of British descent could indicate Viking ancestry.

The 3 main tests There are three main commercial ancestral DNA tests from which to choose: mtDNA, autosomal DNA and Y-DNA.

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Study Study time time

Webinars, wikis & more

As we know, the web is a wonderful place to meet new people and learn new things. So, if you’d like to improve your genealogy skills, get to grips with unusual sources, and make the most of your time and budget, read on…


he internet has revolutionised the way we can research and learn, giving us access to specialist information at the click of a button, a great deal of which is freely shared online by others who share our interest too. But it’s much more than just a collossal reference library, it’s also a community – one that provides ever more inventive ways to learn. So whether you’d like to attend a webinar (an online seminar), read or contribute to a wiki, or take an online course, see how the internet can add to your family history knowledge.

Take a course Pharos Tutors Pharos Tutors runs a variety of good value online genealogy courses taught by experts, usually over 3-5 weeks. Its partners include the Society of Genealogists, the Guild of One-Name Studies, the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives and the National Genealogical Society (Virginia, USA). Thus all you need is a computer and internet access to learn online from professional genealogists how to become a more skilled family historian. Topics include: l Understand the historical background to your ancestors’ lives. l Find the best research techniques, on- and offline. l Discover the best free genealogy indexes and fully searchable resources. l Learn effective management of your research time and budget. Search courses and prices at National Institute for Genealogical Studies A Canadian organisation, many of the courses nevertheless cover genealogy topics and sources of particular interest to family historians searching British ancestors. Browse the listings, prices, course dates and more at in association with


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Getting Getting specialist specialist

For readable files

The best file types are those that are widely accessible to the most number of people and are the least prone to deterioration. For instance, TIFF is better for archiving purposes than JPEG (as JPEG files lose data over time), RTF files are good for text documents, being accessible on a wide range of PCs, and if you use a family history program, exporting your research as a GEDCOM is also a good option, so that it can be readily uploaded to other tree software. In addition to your regular back-ups, it is worth checking that your files are still in an accessible format. You could do this annually for instance as part of a family history spring clean.

As you know (or will soon find out!) genealogy research creates a lot of notes and files. But the question is, how best to organise them? It’s worth weighing up a few considerations that will make your home archiving life much easier...

Organising your family history


ou don’t need to have researched your family history for long before you begin to notice that the paper printouts are mounting up on your desk, as are the numerous document files downloaded when searching the internet, and if you don’t make a plan soon, you might begin to feel more than a little confused! To keep your tree on track, you need to come up with a filing system, log your research and ensure that you’re keeping your notes in good order, with all your facts and sources clearly labelled. That done, you can keep speeding along with your research.

Your filing system Most likely your family history records will be a mixture of paper files and digital ones, as they each have their own advantages. Digital files are good for easy file sharing, backing up and saving space on your shelf, whereas paper records require a lot of storage space, are less easy to make copies of or share with distant relatives. With items that are commonly found in public records, such as census pages, you may decide to keep just a digital file. However, in some instances having a

digital copy does not mean that you no longer need the original – you wouldn’t want to simply scan and dispose of your expensively acquired birth certificates or inherited family Bibles. The advantages of paper records, however, are that the files won’t become inaccessible over time, due to hardware and software becoming obsolete, or digital files deteriorating. Binders & wallets Choose a simple but flexible file format, so that you can readily reorganise as your research evolves. For instance, for your paper records, start with a ring binder and dividers, or a number of cardboard wallets (a notebook is also a possibility but won’t allow for expansion so easily). It’s handy to organise your file by household, perhaps labelling each divider or wallet with a married couple’s names. Files & folders For your digital files, decide on a file name format and stick to it so that you can more readily order your files on your computer. You could opt for the format: surname, first name, event, year (ie BurkeWilliambaptism1860). While you don’t want your file names to get unwieldy, you can use your file name to record other information such as the website

you found the record on or which family member owns the original. Be consistent in the name used for an ancestor’s files; while you may find spelling variations in the records, labelling your files with these variant names will mean that the ancestor’s files may not list as you wish on your computer. Don’t have too many folders. If you’re likely to forget which folder you popped something in, then stick to a few basic folders. As with your paper records you can always expand your digital folder system in the future if required.

Who, why, when of sources Just as with your homework as a child you had to ‘show your working’ so that your teacher knew how you had arrived at the final answer, so with family history, you need to be able to prove how you worked out your

Family history software is designed to keep your research on track, with dedicated places for your research logs, to-do lists and source citations. This is a window from the program RootsMagic showing the information for just one person, where you can also see links to further notes and media files associated with them.


Abbreviations can be really helpful when jotting down repetitive details.  Discover the Chapman county codes at www.  Try out the Ahnentafel numbering system to code your direct ancestors: you are number 1, your father 2, mother 3, paternal grandfather 4, paternal grandmother 5, maternal grandfather 6, paternal grandmother 7 and so forth. You’ll notice that (except for number 1) all the males are odd numbers and all the females even ones.  If you devise your own abbreviations, be sure to make a list of these ‘codes’ for easy reference.

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hether you have an iPad, Samsung Galaxy Note, Google Nexus or one of the many other tablets now on the market, you will need applications, known as ‘apps’, to make it do all the whizzy things you want it to do. These can be found in the app marketplace for your particular device – Apple App Store or Google Play, for example. Not all apps are available for all devices or all versions of devices and while many apps are free, or have a free basic version, others are paid-for only.

Bring your traditional research methods into the 21st century with the Index Card app.

Tree building Several of the major online family tree builders, such as Ancestry and MyHeritage, have their own apps that can sync with the web version of your tree. Much of the leading software also has apps, such as RootsMagic. If you use desktop family history software or an online tree builder, discover whether there’s a companion app and take your family history with you on the go. Search your app store for ‘family tree’ and you will find a number of tree builders available, some are better than others or more well known, but there is sure to be one to suit you.

Download the Family Tree app to read the digital version of the magazine wherever you are.


Apps for family history

Photos are hugely important to us family historians. You can take photos with a tablet that has a built-in camera, but there are also apps for editing, storing and sharing your precious pictures. There’s a whole App Store category devoted to photo and video apps, so there are plenty to choose from. If you have a family history document you’d like to scan, you can use a scanner app such as Genius Scan+ or Scanner Pro. There are even scanner apps that incorporate OCR technology. There are serious photo editing apps, like Adobe Photoshop Touch, and there are fun photo-editing apps that allow you to play with photo effects or apps that let you add text to your

There is an entire App Store category devoted to photo and video apps.

You could fill a book with ways to use your iPad for genealogy and apps that can change how you research, store and share your family history. Here we introduce the kinds of apps to look for and some of the best that can be found in app stores right now. But remember, this is just a hint of what’s available.

images. Further apps, such as Flickr for iPhone (see Flickr’s app garden for recommended iPad apps), will help you to store and organise your photos and share them on social networks. If you love pictures, you should certainly check out Pinterest (www.pinterest. com)! If you want to do more with your pictures, there are even apps to help you create family scrapbooks or order canvas prints and other photo gifts. SpeakingPhoto enables families to capture the voices of their relatives describing old (and new) photos.

Memories SpeakingPhoto is not the only app dedicated to recording memories. Many traditional note-taking apps can be used to record written thoughts and memories, but if your device includes a microphone or camera there are many more apps that can record

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Your family family stories stories && memories memories Your

Creating family treasures Make sure that your family stories are saved for future generations, and they will thank you for this. It does take a little time, but it really needn’t be that daunting, and there are many achievable ways to preserve these memories.


irst decide how you would like to record your family’s stories. It may be that one format may suit some ancestors and their stories better than others. For instance, a soldier’s anecdotes might be especially suited to a memory box, so that a journal with accounts of his experiences can be stored with his medals, military photos and other relevant memorabilia. Meanwhile the tales of a keen cook in the family might better be recorded in a scrapbook, so that you can paste in handwritten recipes. And a time capsule can be a good project to undertake with children, appealing to their sense of fun and helping them to visualise the passing of time.

Time capsule Think back even only five or 10 years, and you might be surprised by all that has changed both in your life and in the world around you. Creating a time capsule can be a great way to share a valuable snapshot of your era with your descendants. Making a capsule with relatives is an enjoyable activity at a family gathering too. For your capsule, you’ll need to find a sturdy container with a lid. You don’t need to bury your capsule, but it is a good idea to seal it and carefully label it, perhaps including a date before which the capsule mustn’t be opened. An archive quality box probably offers the best storage system, but failing that plastic offers advantages over metal (in that it won’t rust) and it offers some protection against damage by insects too. Family photos (named and dated of course), photos of your home (interior and exterior), locks of hair, a handwritten or printed copy of your family tree (remember that technology changes quickly, so a paper tree may actually remain the most easily accessible), and a newspaper of the day, all make important additions to your time capsule. You might

also like to include a wish list of your hopes and dreams for the future – your descendants may know whether or not these have been fulfilled by you in the intervening years! Once you have completed your capsule, store it in a clean, dry part of your home and just forget about it. In time, it will mature into a family treasure of the future.

Memory box A little like a time capsule, a memory box is a box filled with treasures that will help to remind people of the past. However, a memory box can be added to over time. You could start one for your children or grandchildren, gradually accumulating mementoes of cherished times. Alternatively you can make a box for a specific ancestor, and use it to store both their paper records and inherited artefacts. Memory boxes are also increasingly used to help people with dementia to recall the past, so you could gather items for one for this purpose.

Scrapbook One of the marvellous things about creating a scrapbook is the vast array of options it allows – and it really is a project that anyone can achieve. Perhaps you would like to create a good old-fashioned scrapbook, like the ones you made as a child, with

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Family history at your fingertips  

Discover Family history at your fingertips: genealogy in the digital age from the publisher of Family Tree magazine with this free sample. F...

Family history at your fingertips  

Discover Family history at your fingertips: genealogy in the digital age from the publisher of Family Tree magazine with this free sample. F...