Researcher training

This page provides direction for new researchers, and helps current researchers brush up their skills.

For new researchers here are twelve basic starter principles

  1. Start off with yourself and work backwards, generation by generation.
  2. Document your sources rigorously.
  3. Be methodical with your record keeping. Start with a simple system. Record every search even if you don’t find anything.
  4. Do not accept a piece of data as a fact, until you have a valid basis for doing so.
  5. Talk to all your relatives – the oldest first. Gather birth, death and marriage certificates and other family documents and photos from them.
  6. Make comprehensive notes.
  7. Define your objectives. Decide whether to start with your father’s line or mother’s. Keep your aims achievable in a reasonable time perspective.
  8. Understand the origin of your surname(s). There are four origins normally: place, occupation, patronymic (like O’Donoghue = Ó Donnchadha = grandson or descendant of Donnchadh) or nickname.
  9. Join a family history society and try and ‘meet’ other people with similar interests.
  10. Use technology to the full.
  11. Search for the births, deaths and marriages to build your tree
  12. Move onto census records when you have some of the addresses your ancestors lived at.

Guidance and training courses are offered at a number of web sites. I cannot say that I have tried them but these look relevant:
Genealogy Beginner? Step by step genealogy lessons at Ancestor Search (

BBC – Family History: Get Started

BYU Family History Library – YouTube

The University of Strathclyde Future Learn Course is an excellent grounding 

Specific research interests