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.

LDS Family History Centres have always been a useful resource. The volunteer staff are very helpful and you do not have to be a church member to use the centres. In the early days of our research, we spent many hours in our local centre perusing original sources on microfilm and microfiche. Those days are long gone, but the centres provide advice on getting the best from online resources provided by the LDS church and also offer access to a range of genealogy sites including Ancestry and FindMyPast. The full list is available on The Family History Center Portal. Alternatively, 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.

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.

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 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" includes England and Wales census returns from 1841 to 1911 and BMD registration indexes from 1837 to 2005. "Premium" also includes early parish registers, military and immigration records. "Worldwide" adds USA, Canada, Australia and other overseas records. We are currently Ancestry subscribers.

findmypast.co.uk now offers three subscription packages each of which has monthly and annual options. "Starter" includes tree building and access to British/Irish civil registration and census records. "Plus" adds access to other record sets including the 1939 Register, parish registers, wills and probate, migration and military records. "Pro" also includes access to global records and British/Irish newspapers. We are not currently FindMyPast subscribers, but have been in the past and may rejoin in the future.

Genes Reunited currently offers a standard annual subscription allowing access to trees and communication with other members and a platinum annual subscription which adds access to census and BMD records. In each case, shorter subscriptions are available at a higher unit cost and there is a PPV option. Platinum subscribers can also pay for access to additional record sets. We subscribed to GenesReunited from its inception, but have only ever used it to host our trees and communicate with other members. We ceased subscribing a few years ago as the volume of enquiries slowed to a trickle.

My Heritage offers Site Subscriptions allowing use of Family Tree Builder and Smart Matching. there does not appear to be a standard price for the Premium or Premium Plus Site Subscriptions. They do, however, quote an annual price for a Data Subscription allowing access to their Super Search record sets and Record Matching. We have used the free Family Tree Builder software supplied by My Heritage, but have no experience of accessing their data.

Page last modified: 9 February 2022