Family History -
The Next Steps

The further you travel back in your family history, genealogy records become more scarce, spelling becomes an issue, and the more you need to sharpen your detective skills. However, there is a lot of help available and I shall try to point you in the right direction.

You may wish to visit the Internet page to learn what sort of help you can get online. Then come back here.

At the end of this page the path you should follow will depend on the country your ancestors lived in. The phrase 'The Luck of the Irish' wasn't coined by a genealogist as most records were destroyed by a fire in 1922! However, if your ancestors were Scots, smile!

But first, there are several central records and organisations that will be of use in your quest to discover your family history.

CENSUSA census is held in the UK every 10 years and the results are made public after 100 years. The first full census took place in 1841. These documents are not indexed and you will need to know the address where your ancestors lived. The 1841 census recorded the names of the occupants, their ages at the date of the census, and their occupations. Later censuses added the place of birth and relationships e.g. wife, son etc. The addresses where these records are held is shown in the relevant country page, or you can buy the data in CDs or search databases online; go to (change date for other censuses), or see the online page.

THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS (THE MORMONS) The Mormons have 3,700 Family History Centers around the world, many of which are in the UK. The Church has also put together the International Genealogical Index(IGI) which holds records of several hundred million people's date of birth and baptism. Many of these records are of people who lived in the UK. The 1881 census has been indexed on behalf of the Church. You can find this wealth of information at For further information about the contribution the Mormons make to family history research, click here.

FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETIES. Join your local society, and the society in the area of the country your ancestors resided. Local members may already be researching your name. For a list of family history societies, click here.

EMIGRATION RECORDS. Maybe the person you are looking for emigrated. Check out for Australia and Canada, and for emigrants to America.

TRADE DIRECTORIES. Local reference libraries have copies of 19th and 20th century trade directories.


WILLS are often the only way to establish relationships between individuals. Details in the relevant country page.

LIBRARIES are a good source of information. For a list of family history records held at reference libraries, go to

Many people died in WW2. Information at

The information above refers equally to all the countries in the UK. Additional information is available at the following pages:England & Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.