At some point we have all wondered about our family history; where did I come from, are there any famous people in my family and did my ancestors do great things?


Image by born1945

What with the growing trend of unearthing family history boosted by programmes such as “Who Do You Think You Are”;

it may seem that without a family tree you’re behind the times.

Indeed there are many resources at your disposal, but what about the cost?

Here are a few tips to get your family tree firmly rooted for free- all you’ll need is a keen interest and a bit of spare time.

Talk About It

Sit down with some of the oldest members of your family, preferably with a cup of tea- biscuits are optional!- and have a good long chat.

It may take a bit of patience and be prepared for tangents but remember to take a few notes along the way.

Names of great great grandparents will give you a head start as well as birthplaces and marriages.

Get Your Hands Dirty

Now, for anyone who has seen ‘The Grudge’, the loft is a scary place. But pull yourself together and get up there (maybe take a torch).

The purpose of this exercise is to uncover any old dusty clues to the past.

You never know what could be tucked away in the cracks of those attic floorboards; old pictures, births, marriages and death certificates; letters and diaries.

Don’t discard anything. You never know what secrets may be lurking in those scribbles.

Get Online

The internet has an array of genealogy websites for the use of the general public. It’s true that most charge fees for their services; but not all.

Free websites include that holds some birth, marriage and death indexes for England and Wales, for vast international genealogy and that allows users to search over 1,400 genealogy databases.

Do bear in mind that you may have to search a few different websites to fully research your family history and not all sites will have what you are looking for.

Take Advantage Of Every Opportunity

You will tend to find that those bigger, better known sites offer free trials to first timers.

Both and offer a free 14 day try before you buy package and often when looking up records on subscription sites you can return to it for free for a set time period.

Don’t miss out; explore the sites for any resource that might be free and at your disposal.

These may seem like obvious tips and maybe they are, but sometimes the simplest ideas are the best.

So take it back to basics, hunker down and in no time you’ll be an expert people finder.

And if all else fails, you can always make it up. That’s free too.

Is there anyone interesting in your family tree?

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Hannah Coughlan is a graduate of creative writing and journalism who specialises in short story writing.

She loves literature, music reviews and creative blogs. She writes for White Pages.