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18 September 2014
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Family History

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Basic Research Tools

By Dr Nick Barratt
The wider picture

There are many other sources of information. Look at other articles on this site (see right) to find out more about them, particularly about census records ('The Census and How to Use It'), and about sources relating to people who served in the armed forces ('Tracing Military Records').

Don't forget the informal research tools that can help you too, such as the gravestones in your local church, or newspapers, postcards and letters you may find at home. These sorts of tools are described in more detail in 'Getting Started on Your Family Tree' and 'Tracing Military Records'.

The information in this article is for beginners, and will help you take your first steps to finding out about your ancestors. If your case is a reasonably simple one, you will be able to make a very satisfying family tree.

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?'.


Published: 2004-09-13

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