Becoming a skilled genealogists, in many ways, requires becoming well versed in a variety of subject matters. Once the “newbie” learns how to records information on a pedigree chart or family group records, the real work begins. Finding documents for the living and the dead in libraries, in court records, in census records, in newspapers, in journals, in family bibles, in church records, in local histories, or in family histories can require a significant learning curve for each. Most researchers can get a good grasp of each area of research within a reasonable amount of effort, and with a little patience. However, by the time a researcher is comfortable with their research skills they are then presented with daunting task of following their family line back to their ancestors’ lands or origin. Then, it is back to feeling like a newbie.
Many begin their family history work with a set of good books and local support. Why shouldn’t the same approach be used in searching one’s family across oceans. A beginner’s guide to research may be just the perfect way to begin researching in a foreign country; even, when that country speaks the same language. One such book for those searching their British ancestry is Easy Family History by David Annal. While a beginner’s guide for British Researchers, it is equally beneficial to foreign researchers who may already be skilled as a genealogists, but could use an introductory guide to British records and resources.
This guide offers an introduction not only the practice of genealogy but also to major information resources and how to read these records. Each chapter covers a single area of research, with all the basics. Illustrations, screenshots, and document samples dot the book, along with tips and other interjections.
Easy Family History is a second edition guide, originally published in 2005 by the [British] National Archives. As the Archives recently pulled out of the publishing business, this new edition was recently published by Bloomsbury Publishing. Annal makes note on how much research has changed in just a few years. In 2005 he provided information on resources with corresponding websites mentioned almost as an afterthought. Now, he recognizes that in many ways websites have become the primary way to access records. In addition, this recently updated edition includes added resources, such as:
- 1911 Census
- Newly released military records
- Additional digitised archives now available online
The increase in online resources provides one big advantage to researchers, one can access these resources from anywhere in the world without having to pay for expensive travel or ever step foot inside distant libraries and archives.
Introduction to the second edition: The world turned upside down
Homework: Your own resources
In the beginning: Birth records
Coming together: Marriage records
Count the people: Census returns
Ashes to ashes: Death records
The will of the people: Probate records
Parcels of the past: Records before 1837
Other direction: More record sources
For Queen, King and Country: Military service records
Picture this: The visual dimension
Read all about it: Newspapers
The bigger picture: The British Isles
Moving there and moving here: Emigrants and immigrants
The whole world is out there: Family history and the internet
Have English roots? Order a copy of Easy Family History from Family Roots Publishing to help your research; Price: $14.65.