Not just to find ancestors and build a family tree, but to put meat on the bones with information about where they lived, how they lived their lives, information about their occupations, and what influenced their thinking and decision making.
Follow the quick tips below to get you started by clicking on the headings.
Write down everything you know about parents, grandparents etc.
In particular, note names, dates of birth, marriage and death, occupations and addresses.
Talk to other members of your family.
See if anyone has old copies of marriage or death certifates, photos (preferably dated and with everyone on them named.)
Draw up a draft family tree.
This can be done on paper, or better still on Genes-Reunited. (FREE).
Family trees drawn on Genes-Reunited can be printed out or exported for use in other software such as Legacy (Free)
Follow one branch of the family at a time. If you are on Genes Reunited then it is worth searching other peoples trees. The site finds possible matches for you. You will need to sign up (£9.95 to view any trees that you find.
You can search for Births, Marriages and Deaths on Ancestry.com. Searching is free but you will need to pay a fee to see a certificate.
The system of registering births in England and Wales in 1837. The most useful feature of a birth certificate is that it gives the names of the parents (including the mothers maiden name. This gives a starting point to the previous generation.