Starting English Research
by B. Nelson
The following information grew out of some responses I have
made to people via E-mail wondering where to start.
1. Identify any and all ancestry in England. Write all of this
and collect any related information in a folder, shoe box, etc.
2. Visit your nearest LDS Family History Center with information
obtained in step 1.
To find a center near your visit the family
history centers page.
3. Call ahead for hours and directions as to where it is. It is
sometimes a wing or a room
in an existing building.
4. Determine the locality of your ancestry and begin your search.
The largest obstacle to beginning
is to narrow down your geographical search. One way of doing this is
note of the city, town, or village where your ancestry came from. Once
have done this try to find the parish that town lies within. Some
libraries and family history centers have a book that is called a
which lists thousands of places in England and can include the
Ask your local librarian or Family History Center about
finding a gazeteer.
- General location within a county
- Town size
- Census district and/or sub-district
- Civil History
- Church History
An example of one can be found at the Greater
Manchester Gazeteer Index.
Look at some of the entries to see what I mean.
Once you have located the parish you are ready to begin your search.
Go to the Family History Catalog (available at a Family History Center)
fiche or computer and type in
your locality. For example, for my ancestry in England in began in
Churchkirk, Lancashire, England. So in the Family history catalog
on fiche you would search under
England, Lancashire, Churchkirk. The fiche is organized by
country, county, town. Once you have the fiche you need you can
easily go back and forth and the topics listed are alphabetical under
Churchkirk, so keep on searching until you find "Church Records". Since
most people belonged to the Church of England you look for record on
local parish. If you know they were Methodists or Baptists. Look for a
or Baptist church record, however they were less common in some areas,
so you may
find them listed under an adjacent area. You locate the film number(s)
then check to see if any of the films are already at the center. If not
then can order them for a nomial fee as they are sent out from Salt
Lake City. The
original is stored in a side of a granite mountain under climate
On the computer it may be a bit easier as you type in "England" and
for my example and up the records are displayed by topic. If the place
name is in two
or more counties the computer asks you which one it should display.
If you cannot find an exact locality I suggest using the IGI
(International Genealogical Index), which has over 50 million names
from the British Isles. On the computer version you can search the
entire country or certain counties all at once. On fiche you
need to know the county as they are organized by county, surname.
If you find some possible matches you can then look up the original
source that is mentioned. On the computer it will tell you the exact
film number and/or book that the information came from. On fiche you
get a batch number, which you look up on another fiche, which has
the actual film number you need.
After you get started you can expand some of your search by
looking at civil registration and census records as explained by
Mark Howell's guide in the next step.
5. Follow the Mark
to English research at LDS Family History Centers.
6. Look at the links at the bottom of Bert's
English Genealogy Page for more
information. Many of these links contain useful information on where to
Back to Bert's English Genealogy Page