Tracing Your Roots is the series that helps put branches on your family tree.
Each week Sally Magnusson follows the ancestral trail back in time to uncover colourful stories and hidden slices of social history. Resident genealogist Nick Barratt is on hand with tips and inspiration to help you explore your own family's lineage.
28 November 2007
Does genealogy have to take years out your own life?!
In this week’s programme we're investigating how much you could discover about your family tree in just a couple of days. To find this out, we set up a challenge called the Trace Race.
Two novice family historians, Henrietta Harrison and Geoff Bird, were pitted against each other to see what they could learn from scratch. We also wanted to see how helpful it was to have access to the internet versus "real life" records in a public library.
Trace Race Day 1: Background Research
After quizzing a relative on her family’s history, Henrietta set off for the village of Frolesworth in Leicestershire, to visit the family graveyard. She found a wealth of information there, giving her plenty of leads to follow up on Day Two.
Geoff too chatted to relations, dozens of them, he says. He struck gold when he found someone who had already done a considerable amount of research into one side of the family. But Geoff was more intrigued by another, more mysterious line…
The Trace Race Day 2: Verifying information and going further...
Geoff arrived late at the archive office in Shrewsbury. But he was quickly surrounded by a crowd of family historians keen to help him. And off he went, back through the centuries …
Meanwhile, Henrietta was left at home with the whole of the internet at her fingertips. In theory, endless opportunities to find out more about her ancestors. But with so much information to process, where should she begin?
An online genealogical community
There are four broad types of family history websites, but one specific site Tracing Your Roots listeners have raved about is RootsChat. This is a forum where people come together to discuss, and help each other, with all manner of genealogical query.
We’re joined by Sarah Davies, one of the founders of RootsChat, and also by one of the site’s users, Jan Spink, who tells us about some of the assistance she’s received, and given others.