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 information down 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 taking note of the city, town, or village where your ancestry came from. Once you have done this try to find the parish that town lies within. Some public libraries and family history centers have a book that is called a gazeteer, which lists thousands of places in England and can include the following information:

Ask your local librarian or Family History Center about finding a gazeteer.

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) on 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 the local parish. If you know they were Methodists or Baptists. Look for a Methodist 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) and 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 control.

On the computer it may be a bit easier as you type in "England" and "Churchkirk" 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 Howells' guide 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 search and/or begin.

Back to Bert's English Genealogy Page