My mum Rene (Alice Irene Flitney née Harding) died in 1999. When my brother, sister and I went through her things we found an envelope full of old newspaper clippings and other bits and pieces. We looked through the papers and put the envelope away, but those yellowing pieces of paper keep whispering of half-forgotten times and places. Places like Butlers Cross, Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury, West Wycombe, Little Kimble, Wendover, Ellesborough, Southcourt and Princes Risborough.

Monday, 2 March 2015

How to Begin Researching Your Family History

Guest Post by Suzie Kolber;

How to Begin Researching Your Family History

Studying one’s past can be an exciting adventure. You never know what stories and facts you will learn about your family genealogy during the process. One of the ways that you can make this task easier is by creating a visual “map” that you can follow during your research phase.

Collect the Information That You Know

Begin by writing down everything you know about your family history. Start with your parents and grandparents and work your way back. See how far back into your ancestry you can go just based on the information you have. If you are lucky enough to still have great-grandparents living, you may already have basic data about four or five generations.
The most important information and often the easiest to collect are the names of your ancestors. Even if this is all you have to go on, you have a good start. Once you have listed all of the information that you have currently available, now is the time to organize it into a visual format.

Creating a Family Tree

As you delve deeper into your family history, it will be easy to get confused. This is especially true if you have people with the same names. Take the time to write your basic information down into a format that is easy to read and visually pleasing.

You may wonder why it is important to include this step. The reason is that it helps you keep the information straight in your mind. While it is easy in the beginning to remember who you are researching because you either know the person or have heard stories about him or her, as you move farther back into your past, it becomes more difficult. These people become just names on a page and it can get confusing. A family tree allows you to stay organized.

Choosing a Family Tree

Numerous templates are available to help you organize your information. Each one is designed a different way to appeal to various styles of researchers. Some are extremely simple and only include names while others provide room for more elaborate details.

The first decision is how many generations you want on your family tree. To begin your research, you may want to start with a four or five generation family tree. Many of these templates give you room to write birth and death dates, dates of marriage and even locations. Since you probably know more information about recent ancestors, this is a good option for storing that data.

As you move farther back into your family history, you may want to use an eight- or nine-generation template. This allows you to see more members at a glance without including a lot of information. These templates come in various styles to fit your needs. Some common options include circular, hourglass and bowtie shapes. The one you choose depends on what is most visually pleasing to you.
Researching your family history can be challenging and a lengthy process. Begin by organizing your information into a family tree and it will make the task much easier.

Suzie Kolber created Family Tree Templates to be the complete online resource for “do it yourself” genealogy projects. The site offers the largest offering of free family tree templates online. The site is a not for profit website dedicated to offering free resources for those that are trying to trace their family history.


  1. Family trees are just so fascinating! We had a lengthy family history done on my Dad's side of the family many years ago, but I've been meaning to put one together for my Mom's side. I'm actually a lot more interested in collecting my Grandmother's stories though. It may be a project for this summer once I finish my MA thesis!

  2. Hello Brandy, I envy you the family history from your dad’s side. I’m trying to put together both my mum and dad’s side, and it’s much harder than I realised. This guest post came at the perfect time for me, and I hope it will prove helpful for others as well. I agree you need to complete your thesis first but after that you could have a lot of fun collecting stories from your grandmother.

  3. So interesting and you are so right limiting the number of branches you follow. I am really pleased my sister, Barbara, has taken it on now as I got really bogged down!!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. You are not the only one Sue. I’m tying myself up in knots with all the loose ends! xx


I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara x

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