How Can I Trace My Family History?

10th February, 2015

How Can I Trace My Family History?

You want to trace your family's history and build your family tree, but you're not sure where to start and it seems like a lot of paperwork. Here's a simplified guide on how to get started.

Where to start...

The best place to start is with what you know to be fact. If you gather factual documents like birth and marriage certificates you can work your way back into the unknown. Essentially you can follow a paper trail into the past and find your ancestors, but always start with what you know for certain.

Birth Certificates

The document you will want to order first is likely to be a birth certificate. If you have information for a family member, perhaps a grandparent, but you cannot confirm anything further back than their parents' names you will want to order their birth certificate. This way you can confirm the information that you have and work backwards from there. This first step ensures that you are following the right paper trail and finding your relatives rather than heading off on a wild goose chase.

At Simply Certificate we work off the information you give us, so you need to know you have the right name but we will make every effort to locate the correct certificates and resolve any confusions in order to help you find your family tree. We ask for as much information as you can give us like their place of birth and parents' names. This is to avoid mix ups, which is especially important if you have a common name such as "John Smith".

Marriage Certificates

Once you've obtained the birth certificate of your relative you can track down their parents, possibly your great grandparents or great great grandparents depending on how much solid knowledge you started with.

With their names confirmed you may want to track down their marriage certificate. This will tell you when they were married and what they did, helping you to flesh out the picture of your family tree. With this information you may be able to research them further to find out if they did anything of prominence.

Death Certificates

You don't necessarily need these to help find the missing family members but it will help you paint a picture of the 'whats' and 'whens' of your family tree, giving you more of the details.

More Certificates

From the first few marriage and birth certificates you will probably want to delve further. Using the birth certificates of the family members that you have the marriage certificates for will let you do this.

Birth, marriage and death certificates are the most sure way to confirm relations, their parents, whom they married and what they did. You can also use the census to give you a more in depth snapshot of your ancestors, which can be really exciting for family historians. Census returns from 1841 to 1911 which you can find some access to through the National Archives.

We offer you the option of faster services than you would get from the government which means you don't have to wait over a fortnight every time you want to find or confirm a new branch of your family tree. We aim to make the process as efficient and useful as possible.