A range of resources to assist you in your family history research

Getting Started | Tree Building | BMD Registration | Census Returns | Parish Registers |Reporting and Publishing | Other Resources

Getting Started

Free Stuff

The UK government website at Gov.uk has a Researching your Family History page giving advice on family history research and how to obtain birth, marriage and death certificates. From that page, you can download a leaflet entitled "Discover your Family History". See our BMD Registration page for further information on obtaining GRO certificates.

Up to its unfortunate closure in September 2009, FamilyRecords.gov.uk provided a comprehensive overview of the information available to family historians and where to find it. The site included a useful seven step "Beginners Guide". These pages can still be accessed from the UK Government Web Archive.

GENUKI is a good resource for beginner and expert alike. Content varies from county to county, but the site contains many useful links on a wide variety of topics related to genealogy and is always worth a visit. If you have not used GENUKI before start with the Guidance for First-Time Users.

The Society of Genealogists publishes a helpful series of sixteen Information Leaflets covering a wide variety of topics. These can be downloaded as PDF files from their Hints and Tips page.

FreeUKGEN is a voluntary organization which has made an enormous contribution to family history research by bringing us FreeBMD to access GRO registration indexes, FreeREG to transcribe parish registers and FreeCen to index census returns. See our BMD Registration, Census Returns and Parish Registers pages for further information.

In common with most other family historians, we have made extensive use of the International Genealogical Index (IGI) compiled by the LDS Church. This has now been incorporated into the new FamilySearch website. See our Parish Registers page for more information about the power and limitations of the IGI and how to access it.

If you do not live close to the relevant record office or library, LDS Family History Centres provide a means to access copies of source material. We have spent many hours in our local centre perusing parish registers, bishops transcripts, land tax returns and many other items. The volunteer staff are very helpful and you do not have to be a church member to use the centres. Copies of some records covering the immediate locality may be held on the premises and other information on film or fiche can be ordered. Use of these records, however, is much less cost effective since short term loans were abolished. The cost of long term loans can be prohibitive if you need to order several films in order to search for a single marriage or baptism.The LDS Catalogue is the place to go to find out what is available.

A free six week online course entitled "Genealogy: Researching your Family History" has recently been run by the University of Strathclyde on the FutureLearn platform. It is worth watching out for new start dates for this course which offers a good overview of genealogy and family history with particular reference to use of sources and standards of proof.

The FamilySearch Research Wiki from the LDS Church is a large on-line library with articles and "how-to" instructions. You can search by topic or by location. In early 2016, the LDS Church launched a new site entitled The Family History Guide. This provides a learning environment aimed at both beginners and experienced researchers. It includes a number of projects as well as basic information for both computer users and family historians.

We make extensive use of Parish Locator This excellent free download is an essential tool in our box. It contains a database of all the parishes in the UK with map references and allows distances between parishes to be calculated at the click of a mouse. Another very useful feature is the ability to plot the location of neighbouring parishes within a specified radius. If the approximate location of an event is known, Parish Locator is a great help in deciding which parish records to search.

A series of free video tutorials aimed at beginners is now available from findmypast.com.

There are several FREE software packages available. See our Tree Building page for further details.

Chargeable Stuff

Out of the numerous sources available, we have only listed those we have used ourselves. (PPV = Pay per View)
Ancestry.co.uk has three subscription options. "Essentials" priced at £95.99 p.a. includes England and Wales census returns from 1841 to 1911 and BMD registration indexes from 1837 to 2005. "Premium" priced at £119.99 p.a. also includes early parish registers, military and immigration records. "Worldwide" priced at £179.99 adds USA, Canada, Australia and other overseas records. Monthly options are available priced at £10.95, £12.95 and £18.95 respectively. Ancestry databases can also be searched on a PPV basis.

findmypast.co.uk now offers "Britain" and "World" subscription options priced at £119.95 and £155.95 per annum respectively. "Britain" includes England and Wales census returns from 1841 to 1911, BMD registration indexes, military, parish records and migration records for the UK. "World" adds information relating to Ireland, the USA, Australia and New Zealand. Other subscription options are available for "USA & Canada", "Australia & New Zealand" and "Ireland". In each case, "World" versions are available at a higher price.

Monthly subscriptions are also available and the site can be searched on a PPV basis. All "Britain" and "World" twelve month subscriptions include unlimited access to the 1939 Register.

Genes Reunited currently offers 1841-1911 census returns, BMD indexes, migration records, military records and the British Newspaper Archive on a PPV basis. We have subscribed to GenesReunited since it began, but have only ever used it to host our trees and communicate with other members.

My Heritage offers England and Wales census returns (excluding 1911), BMD registration indexes, military, migration and specialist record sets. There is an annual data subscription for unlimited searching or a PPV option valid for 180 days. We have used the free Family Tree Builder software supplied by My Heritage, but have no experience of accessing their data.

Origins.net includes British Origins, Irish Origins and Scots Origins. British Origins includes some census records, marriage and other parish records, wills, apprenticeships, migration, court and militia records. Access to Origins is by PPV with time periods ranging from 72 hours up to one year. We have used Origins from time to time, but have no recent experience.

Page last modified: 11 February 2017