- Ask the family
- Do the groundwork
- Contact an archive before visiting
- Work from known facts and move backwards from the most recent piece of information
- Never assume a link between individuals, just because the place or name seems right - always look for concrete proof of a link
- Establish a clear set of objectives when you visit an archive. Ask yourself: What do I know? What do I want to know? Where should I look? Why should I look there?
- Remember that everyone comes to a halt from time to time. When this happens to you, societies and professional organisations can assist you, as can specialist magazines.
- Check source of internet data and its validity
- Establish copyright
About the author
Dr Nick Barratt worked at the Public Record Office (now The National Archives, or TNA) from 1996 to 2000, with the family history team. He has given many talks on family history, and has written frequently for the TNA's genealogy journal, Ancestors. He has worked for the BBC as a specialist researcher on programmes such as 'One Foot in the Past','The People Detective' and 'Who Do You Think you Are?'.