Tag Archives: researching

20 top tips to find your missing family #familyhistory #research

You’ve decided to trace your family tree, back through the generations. Easy, it’s just a case of trawling through the Birth, Marriages and Deaths records, right? Sadly it’s not always that straightforward… but there are ways to track down missing ancestors. These are the 20 Top Tips by Who Do You Think You Are?’s TV show genealogist Laura Berry. If you have a family member who is missing from official records, there are numerous possible reasons for their absence. These tips are useful whether you are searching for a relative who died a century ago, or more recently.

[photo: nationalarchives.gov.uk]

1 Ancestors may have used middle names. I don’t have a middle name but Adeline V Stephen, who was christened in 1882, was known by her second name Virginia. She became the writer Virginia Woolf.

2 Check the mother’s maiden name, not everyone was born in wedlock.

3 If you are really stuck, you can post a question on a genealogy forum such as the WDYTYA Forum. Often other forum users may be able to help.

4 Perhaps your ancestor simply moved. Try searching in a neighbouring area.

5 Names were often misspelt, and the mistake is continued down the line.

6 If you are drawing a blank at your favourite genealogy website, try using a different website which may have a slightly different interpretation of the indexing. And don’t overlook paper records.

7 Check overseas indexes. People more around more than you think.

8 Check Local Register Offices, the primary records are kept here and may contain less errors.

9 Focus on the ancestor’s occupation. For example at the The Genealogist’s website it is possible to make census searches by profession making it easier to find someone whose surname has been wrongly noted.

10 Search the Poor Law records. Could your ancestor have disappeared because he/she is in the workhouse [below] on the night the census was taken?

[photo: workhouses.org.uk]

11 Try Parish Registers for baptisms and burials. They are not quite as detailed, but you may find a record that is missing from the indexes. It wasn’t compulsory to register a child’s birth until 1874.

12 You might not find your relatives in the local Parish records, even though the family was Protestant. Instead look at records for more than one denomination.

13 The forces. Men stationed abroad are not included in UK censuses prior to 1911, except the navy. Some men took their family abroad with them, so you may find everyone missing.

14 Look at old maps. Read more here about how I used maps to research the settings for Ignoring Gravity.

15 Search for a will. The national Probate Calendar was compiled from 1858 onwards. It includes the deceased’s occupation, address, next of kin and executors of the will.

16 Consider that your relative may have changed name. You could change your name without making an official declaration, as long as your intentions weren’t fraudulent. But some people changed their name by Deed Poll. Some records are held at the National Archives in Kew, name changes after 1914 were recorded in the London Gazette.

18 Try the online Discovery catalogue at the National Archives at Kew.

19 Read the newspapers. Not just obituaries and the Birth and Death announcements, but also news stories. Read them online at the British Newspaper Archive and Find My Past.

Lady Penrhyn convict ship [photo: Wikipedia]

20 Was your relative a convict? Possibly in prison [prisoners were noted on census returns by their initials] or possibly transported by ship [above] to Australia. Records at the National Archives, Kew.

If you liked this summary of Laura Berry’s feature, check out Who Do You Think You Are?’ magazine for more help. I read it every month.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Searching British newspaper archives
Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’
Searching the #DeceasedOnline database of #graveyards 

Sandra Danby

 

Watch this interview with Sandra Danby in which she talks about the inspiration for writing identity detective novel Ignoring Gravity, and her curiosity about how family affects our identity. BUY

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
20 top tips to find your missing ancestors #familyhistory #research https://wp.me/paZ3MX-30 via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Further information #Adoption #AdoptionReunion #HelpfulLinks

If you want to take the first tentative step to finding answers about your own adoption story, here are some simple places to start. This list of books includes advice on how to search, autobiographies of people involved in the adoption story, adoptees and birth parents, and true stories of adoption searches. The websites include adoption advice and useful archives. This is a place to start. Your journey will take you into the unknown, only you can take that first step. Good luck.

[photo: salvationarmy.co.uk]

BOOKS

Adoption, Search & Reunion by David Howe & Julia Feast
A Good Likeness by Paul Arnott
Blue-Eyed Son by Nicky Campbell
Relative Strangers: A history of adoption and a tale of triplets by Hunter Davies

The People Finder by Karen Bali
The Adoption Triangle by Julia Tugendhat
The Adoption Reunion Handbook by Liz Trinder and Julia Feast
The Adoption Papers by Jackie Kay
I Belong to No One by Gwen Wilson

[photo @SandraDanby]

WEBSITES

GOV.UK How to access birth records in the UK, what to do if you know your birth details, and what to do if you don’t know the circumstances of your birth. Includes a link to the Adoption Contact Register which enables you to find a birth relative or adopted person, or to say you don’t want to be contacted.
GENERAL REGISTER OFFICE To order UK birth certificates online, go to the General Register Office.
ARIEL BRUCE is a Registered Independent Social Worker who specialises in tracing people affected by adoption. She also helps to trace people who have lost touch as a result of emigration, divorce or other family separations. Ariel Bruce conducts searches in Britain and all over the world and has successfully traced missing family members for over 20 years.
BAAF [The British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering] supplies advice and information on adoption and care issues. Their publication “Where to find Adoption Records” is very useful.
ELECTORAL REGISTER If trying to trace someone for whom you have a name, the Electoral Registers are a useful source of name and address. Check with your local county council.
AFTER ADOPTION is an independent adoption support organisation. Its website has useful links and adoption information. ActionLine is a free telephone helpline on 0800 0 568 578. It is confidential and available for anyone whose life has been affected by adoption – adopted people, birth relatives and adoptive families.
ADOPTION UK UK charity for people affected by adoption, 10,000 members. Providing support, awareness and understanding. Promotes the value of adoption, not so much about adoption reunion.
THE SALVATION ARMY Helps to reunite families through its Family Tracing Service. Telephone 0845 634 4747 or go online and complete an online request for a Family Tracing Service Application Form.

Finding People [photo: salvationarmy.co.uk]

ADOPTION SEARCH REUNION This website, run by BAAF, is a useful starting place in the search for birth or adopted relatives.
FORMER CHILDREN’S HOMES This website is a valuable resource for information about UK children’s cottage homes, former orphanages and other institutions for children plus details of US orphanages and child migration. Information from children’s home registers is going online now.
PEOPLETRACER Checks +300 million online records for named people. Resources include UK Electoral Registers for 2002-2014, births deaths and marriages, and online Telephone Directory.
ADOPTION SERVICES FOR ADULTS Registered social worker Jean Milsted specialises in helping adults affected by adoption. As well as searching, tracing and intermediary services, ASA also offers workshops for adults affected by adoption [adopted people, birth relatives and adoptive family members]. Understanding different perspectives in adoption search and reunion, wanting to know or not, preparing for reunion.

This information is for guidance only and is mostly UK-based. All websites featured include further useful links, so please explore. Sandra Danby does not offer adoption advice or genealogical services.

Read more about family history research here:-
Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’
Searching British newspaper archives
Searching the #DeceasedOnline database of #graveyards 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Further information #Adoption #AdoptionReunion #HelpfulLinks https://wp.me/paZ3MX-2G via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Where to start your #familyhistory search #adoptionreunion

People searching for their birth family commonly find themselves researching alongside family historians and genealogists. In the last decade there has been an explosion of interest in the past and where your own family and home fit into 20thand 21st century events. For adoptees this is an intrinsic part of building a picture of the birth family. Piecing together the jigsaw is enriched with information about the place someone lives, their job, the time they lived in, historical events of the time which affected everyone’s lives. There is an immense amount of information easily available online, from official archives to how-to books and websites offering help and support. Some of it is free, some of it is accessible by a small one-off charge, some of the larger databases require subscriptions. It is worth considering joining your local family history society that have membership subscriptions to the biggest commercial archives, but also to network with experienced family historians who understand how to find records.

WSFHS Show Open Day 2019 - photo @SandraDanby

West Surrey Family History Society Open Day 2018 [photo @SandraDanby]

VISIT AN EXHIBITION
Dip your toe into the genealogical waters with a visit to a local event run by your local family history society. Check out the listing at the UK’s Family History Federation. Many have drop-in days for newcomers as well as annual open days and fairs. These are friendly low-key events and are a good opportunity at which to take your first step [above is the Open Day 2018 run by the West Surrey Family History Society].

There are a number of bigger regional and national exhibitions in the UK with a large selection of exhibitors including family history societies, specialist history, archives, family history projects, equipment and software suppliers, fiction and non-fiction.

February
Rootstech, Salt Lake City, USA

April
Family Tree Live, London, UK

June
The Yorkshire Family History Show, York, UK

The Genealogy Show, Birmingham, UK

July
The Family History Show South-West, Bristol, UK

Family History Show at Sandown Park 2018 - photo @SandraDanby

Family History Show at Sandown Park, Esher 2018 [photo @SandraDanby]

August
The London Family History Show, Sandown Park, Esher, UK [above]

October
Rootstech, London, UK

READ A BOOK
Who Do You Think You Are? Encyclopedia of Genealogy: The definitive reference guide to tracing your family history by Dan Waddell BUY
Family History of the Net by Colin Waters BUY
Genealogy: Essential Research Methods by Helen Osborn BUY

BROWSE ONLINE
ANCESTRY.CO.UK UK website, part of the Ancestry.com global network of family history websites. Offers access to 1 billion searchable UK family history records, 9 million searchable records in the global network. Census, fully-indexed birth, marriage and death records, passenger lists, British telephone books, military and parish records. Membership fee. Follow on Twitter @AncestryUK

FAMILYSEARCH.ORG A US non-profit website sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access Family Search services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,600 family history centres in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Follow on Twitter @FamilySearch

FIND MY PAST Start your family tree, online, now. Follow on Twitter @findmypast

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? THE MAGAZINE Subscribe to the UK magazine here, useful resource for starting to research your family tree. Follow on Twitter @wdytyamagazine

FAMILY TREE UK magazine and website. Follow on Twitter @familytreemaguk

FAMILY TREE MAGAZINE USA family history magazine and website. Follow on Twitter @FamilyTreeMag

YOUR FAMILY TREE UK magazine and website.

FAMILY TREE FOLK Supplier of equipment for research including binders, charts, dividers, storage and magnifiers. Follow on Twitter @FamilyTreeFolk

FIND MY PAST Start building your own family tree, online. Follow on Twitter @findmypast

LOST COUSINS If you’re searching for relatives and want to search online safely try the Lost Cousins website, which matches you with other people researching the same ancestors. It’s worth signing up for the Lost Cousins newsletter too.

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Where to start your #familyhistory search #adoptionreunion via #AdoptionStoriesBlog https://wp.me/paZ3MX-1w

Searching the #DeceasedOnline database of #graveyards

I grew familiar with churchyards and graveyards when I was working on Ignoring Gravity. Rose Haldane believes her birth mother is dead and so searches amongst the headstones at her local church.

[photo @SandraDanby]

If Deceased Online had existed when Rose was searching for her birth mother, perhaps she would simply have searched the database online. Deceased Online is the first central database of burial and cremation records in the UK, and records are constantly being added to its database. 

Read how I researched the graveyard scene in Ignoring Gravity.

[photo @SandraDanby]

So I tested the Deceased Online database with a random search for the name of my father. One exact match was found, a gravestone at St Maxentius, Bradshaw, Lancashire. Not my father, and not one of my relatives. Sadly my search went no further as this headstone is not part of the DO contract, so was available to view only by payment with the local authority: £2 to view the single headstone, or £15 to view all 511 headstones at this property. 

[photo @SandraDanby]

My second search was for ‘Rose Haldane’. More success here, 36 headstone collections were found for Haldane, various cemeteries, mostly in Scotland, with multiple headstones. The most, seven, are at Kilmaurs Cemetery in East Ayrshire. Again, I was unable to view the headstone without payment. If I was searching for real, I wouldn’t hesitate to pay the fee.

This post was inspired by the article ‘50 family history websites to watch in 2015’ in the January 2015 issue of the UK’s Who Do You Think You Are? magazine.

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:

Searching the #DeceasedOnline database of #graveyards https://wp.me/paZ3MX-1g via #AdoptionStoriesBlog