There is a growing worldwide community of genealogists, a term loosely used to describe both professionals and hobbyists. Both types of researchers are likely to respond to questions posted on genealogy bulletin boards on the Internet, but first you’ll need to get your investigation underway, so you can focus on the specific information you need.
Genealogical RecordsThe largest collection of genealogical records in the world resides with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The church’s databases are made available to the public through its Family History Centres around the globe and on its website, FamilySearch.org. The website offers forms, charts, and software you can download for free and use to record a family tree. Its online guidance on genealogy search strategies is a good basic overview.
There are many credible genealogy sites on the Internet, with many boasting more than a million family trees submitted by people in over 100 countries. Services can also include message boards, searchable records databases, and tutorials you can sample with a free trial subscription.
You can also conduct family history research on the National Archives website or pay a visit to the department in person. This government agency’s online research guides can help you locate useful documents in its catalogue, you can find amongst others, Crown Court records that have been transferred to the archives. A Freedom of Information request may be required to view indictments or criminal case files less than 30 years old. In January 2007, the National Archives made UK ship passenger list records from 1890 to 1960 available through its website, opening an enormous new collection of data to online researchers.
Findmypast.com collaborated with the National Archives to make the historical ship passenger lists naming 30 million travellers publicly accessible through both agencies’ websites. Findmypast.com is owned by a London title research group in the business of forensic genealogy. Its family history records are searchable with an online subscription.
ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk is the official government website for genealogical research in Scotland.
DNADNA forensics is another method of tracing biological relationships that is being used more commonly in all sorts of genealogical research, not only paternity investigations. The Geographic Project, a partnership between National Geographic and IBM, encourages public participation worldwide. The five-year scientific project is in the process of mapping how early human populations were distributed globally as the result of migration. Participants in the research project who submit DNA specimens can elect to have more extensive DNA analyses performed by Family Tree DNA, a US company that conducts private DNA tests for genealogical investigations.
Two other companies that perform DNA testing for individuals researching family histories are DNAHeritage with an office in the UK, and Relative Genetics in the US.
It’s easy to become fascinated by genealogy, even when there’s no compelling or urgent reason for research into a family’s history. It’s one aspect of do-it-yourself investigation on which you’ll enjoy spending lots of time.