Tracing my family tree..

I’ve been off sick the past week and stuck at home watching daytime T.V. has almost sent me crazy, however it has given me a chance to do something I’ve been meaning to do for ages but not got around to starting. That is tracing back my family tree. I’ve already been to Genes Reunited and started a tress but I have a few things against me

(1) I don’t know what I need to do to get more information (2) The census data online seems to be either incomplete or missing so I can’t tell if the facts I’ve put in are incorrect or if they’re correct but the information just isn’t available online (3) My family goes back to Ireland (don’t they all!) and records there are certainly not online. (4) Sites like Genes reunited work if you sign up and pay, I don’t want to pay unless I know I can get something in return (call me old fashioned) and signing up and paying to simply get access to something which may or may not help me is not something I’m very comfortable with.

I’ve tried going to the genealogy websites but most seem quite rubbish and I’m coming to the conclusion that actually this is one area (a bit like archaeology) where you have really got to go and do the fieldwork yourself or get someone to do it on your behalf and in either case go to the actual artifacts and trawl through them. 

I know that my great and great great grandparents included Scott, McKee, Nixon and Sloan. All very Scottish sounding names so I don’t think I’m going to turn out to be descended from viking stock but you never know…(perhaps a DNA test is in order?)


About willwoods
I'm Head of Learning and Teaching Technologies in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University.

4 Responses to Tracing my family tree..

  1. Gill says:

    I once signed up to genes reunited. I was vaguely curious about my family and entered the names of my parents, my grandmother and her sisters, my great aunts. I was just sitting feeling a little glum that these were the only relatives whose names I knew for sure (my family seem to have spent most of their time emigrating and losing touch) when an email dropped through my inbox. To cut a long story short, within hours I had been contacted by a keen genealogist who was related to and researching my grandmother’s side of the family. We exchanged information (I have copies of the family journals dating back to 1911 and he had traced our family tree).

    I’ve never taken it any further, and let the genes reunited subscription lapse after a year. It didn’t cost much, and now I have a very detailed family tree dating back to 1400 for one side of my family. Just luck, I know, but quite exciting at the time.

  2. Rebecca says:

    Lots and lots of the Irish records were destroyed a century ago – that’s why you can’t find them online.
    Bear in mind that census data was originally handwritten. Sometimes the person who input it couldn’t read the handwriting, sometimes the person who wrote up the census couldn’t spell people’s names. You need to try variant spellings of names to track down relatives.

  3. willwoods says:

    Hi Both,
    Yes I’m probably being a bit sceptical about it but actually GR found three matches for my tree and one turned out to be my half-brother in Canada who is also researching it, unfortunately he hasn’t got any further than me so far but actually I think I’m getting somewhere now. I think I might pay someone to do the research in Ireland as I know that some of the records are only available by going to the archive offices in Belfast or Dublin. It’s fun to do but it’s not as simple they make out in those T.V. programmes!

  4. Pingback: advice to beginners or things I wish I knew sooner « Bluebonnets and Buffalo Grass

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