How to Trace Your Family History

How to Trace Your Family History

Please note that due to the current high demand for certificates we are not currently accepting family history certificate applications or carrying out any historical searches.

Step 1

The first step is to gather all the information you can from your relatives.  As well as names and dates, try and find out addresses, occupations, and the religion of your ancestors.  Also try to obtain any documents which will give you further information, for example, wills, newspaper cuttings, and birth, death and marriage certificates.

Step 2

The next step is to draw up a preliminary family tree, which should show you at a glance what information is missing.

Step 3

Start by confirming the earliest event of which you are certain.  If, for example, this is the birth date of your grandmother, apply for her birth certificate.  The birth certificate will give the names of both parents, including her mother’s maiden name.

Step 4

The next step is to search for the marriage certificate of both of the parents, in this case, your grandmother’s parents.  You can do this in variety of ways, including using the General Register Office (GRO) Index, family history websites or at your local library. 

Often a marriage certificate will only give you the age of the person when they were married, but this will help to give you an idea of when to search for their birth.  Once you have identified a parent, you can apply for their birth certificate from the Register Office where their birth occurred.

Please see our certificates page for details of how to apply for a copy certificate and our fees page for the costs.


Other sources of information

General Register Office
Ancestry UK
Free BMD
Register Offices in England and Wales
Local Studies and Family History – Newcastle City Library
Tyne & Wear Archives
Northumberland Archives

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