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18 September 2014
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How It Works: Family Tree Case History

By Dr Nick Barratt
Fred and Margaret Hall in the 1940s
Frederick and Margaret Hall in the 1940s  

Follow the history of the Hall family, to see how the skeleton of a family tree can emerge, once someone gets the ball rolling.

Hall family

When creating a family tree, once the basic principles are understood (through the 'Getting Started' articles - see right), you will need to collect basic biographical details about all the people in the family under investigation. You may find a look at someone else's family tree useful, before you embark on your own.

'She began by asking older members of her family for their recollections...'

Michelle Smith decided to prepare for her father, Brian Laverick Hall, a history of their family. She began by asking older members of her family for their recollections, checked old photograph albums and sifted through other personal memorabilia. Before long she had gathered sufficient information to draw up a basic family tree.

It was fairly easy to obtain information about Brian's parents. Reginald Leonard Hall, a miner, had married Ida Phyllis Payne in 1935, and the couple had had two sons, people that Michelle knew well. She also already knew that Reginald came from a large family and was one of nine children born to Frederick Henry Johnson Hall and his wife, Margaret Laverick - herself one of nine sisters.

Michelle followed the recommended path, and decided to focus on one family member. Her research had thus far largely consisted in obtaining names of key family members, and she decided to concentrate on her great grandfather, Frederick Hall.

The first step was to check the basic life details by ordering his birth, marriage and death certificates in the hope of finding out further details about his family, for example the names of his parents. However, when the birth certificate arrived, Michelle was in for a bit of a surprise. Frederick's mother was listed as Mary Ann Hall, but the name of the father was missing.

Published: 2004-09-13

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