Discovering Your Family History
18th May 2010
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Tracing family history has become extremely popular in recent years, following the explosion of the online resource, advances in using the study of genes and DNA to combat illness and high profile media coverage such as the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are.

Often, what you can uncover when you start digging into your family's past can be really surprising and I've certainly found that learning about past generations is a worthwhile, interesting pastime.

With thousands of records going online and local organisations working to make them easier to access than ever, 2010 is definitely a great time to get started! Once you begin to look you'll be amazed at the amount of records and information there is.

The main problem that beginners come across when researching their family tree is that records tend to be scattered around and from different sources. Westminster City Council is a good place to start and has a list of local resources.

Where should I start?

The best place to begin researching your family tree is to talk to your grandparents if they are still around- you could be unaware of the amount of information they can give you and you'll have a great time finding out.

The next step is to go to or research key resources such as local archives, libraries etc. The best places to do this in and around Westminster are:

Ancestry (only available at Westminster libraries)
Find My Past (only available at Westminster libraries)
National Archives
1901 and 1911 Census Index
The UK & Ireland Genealogy Information Service (GENUKI)
BBC Family History

When visiting an archive or the library, staff will be able to help with the basics such as birth, marriage and death certificates and also the census records. It is important to remember that census records are only made available to the public after approximately 100 years, so you cannot view anything from 1911 onwards. Other great sources for new genealogists include burial records, church records, websites such as and of course, your local family history society!

For more information about tracing your family history in Westminster please visit

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