Where to start

There is no better place to begin researching your family history, and to begin building your family tree, than here at findmypast.

With over 1.7 billion records to search through, and many more being added regularly, starting out can at first be a little daunting. Follow the easy step-by-step guide we have created and you'll have the hang of it in no time.

Your family knowledge

Before you start searching, the best thing to do is to write down everything that you already know about your family - just the facts, and not the rumours - which you will then be able to check against our records. You may have lots of information about your family already but if you don't, don't worry because you can begin your research and your fmaily tree with nothing more than your own date or birth.

Once you have your own knowledge written down the next thing to do, if possible, is to speak to wider family members to see what further knowledge they may have. No amount of research can better first hand accounts of the people you are looking to find information about, and adding these colourful tales to your family tree is one of the things that makes genealogy so interesting and rewarding.

Of course, when speaking to family members we advise you to again note down all the facts, as well as who the source of the information is, so that you can research at a later date and refer back to your source if needed. We've put together this list of 20 key questions to help you begin your journey:

20 Key questions to ask your family


In the house

Although it may seem like an obvious place to begin, many people forget to check what information they actually have in their own home to help them with their genealogy research. You may have official documents stored - whether they be old marriage and birth certificates or perhaps things that relate to your ancestors' former occupation.

Heirlooms can be fantastic keys to unlocking tales of the past too, but equally, so are old letters and photographs. Did your ancestor write any key information on the back or do you, perhaps, have an old family bible in your possession? Often families would note down their own family tree in their bible and these can be an invaluable source of information for any genealogist.