Starting off Your family tree (Julie Stevenson)

Updated: Mar 11

Julie is experienced in researching family history and is very welcome on this blog and without doubt the person to seek advice from on this subject


It may sound like the most obvious thing to say, but start with what you know. Ask your relatives questions and gather names, dates and locations.

Be wary, many people were not known by the name they were born with. I remember looking for my nana’s siblings, returning home from a trip to the local records office and announcing that I hadn’t found any of them. She asked me who I had been looking for, “Auntie Phil” I said. I was then informed that her name was actually Sarah Jane! Every one of her siblings was known by a different name or by their middle name – even my nana was known as Ethel and that was her middle name.

The 1921 Census has only just become available online and is quite costly to view. If you can obtain details of family members who were born before 1911 that census is more easily accessible through several family history websites (subscriptions may apply).

Many libraries offer free access to, although they don’t have the 1921 Census, for that you need to use


You may be surprised, when talking to family members, to find that they hold paper copies of birth, marriage and death certificates. These can be a goldmine of information.

BIRTH CERTIFICATES: you will find the name of the child, their father’s name and occupation, mother’s maiden name as well as the date and place of birth.

MARRIAGE CERTIFICATES: on here will be the name of the bride and groom with their ages, occupations and addresses. It will also show the names of their fathers with their occupations.

DEATH CERTIFICATES: there will be the name and age of the deceased, their previous occupation, place and cause of death. Another helpful piece of information is the witness's details. Not only does it give their name and address, but it will give their ‘description’. This can be their relationship to the deceased or their occupation, for example, a member of staff at the workhouse.

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