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Sue Fifer on How to Go About writing your Family history

 The popularity of TV series such as the BBC's Who do you think you are? has revealed how keen people are to know more about their family histories., the website for grandparents, has some useful advice on this subject. You don’t have to know a lot before you start – you just need enthusiasm, determination and a liking for detective stories. Some people are fortunate enough to have masses of documents and photographs with which to work. Others have memories of stories told to them by parents and grandparents, which help them decide the direction in which to take their research.
Still others begin with only the barest of details – but a family history can be built up from the most slender material.
First of all, write down the things that you already know about your own life and that of your parents and grandparents.
Then gather together as many family documents as possible. Old passports, certificates, letters, photographs, newspaper cuttings, invitations, school reports – all these can give you the bits of information that will lead you down a plethora of paths through history.
A number of websites and databases created by volunteer groups and by government and commercial agencies are collectively a wonderful resource that saves all researchers time and money when doing the basics of family history. Of course, no matter where information comes from, you need to be sure that it's been well researched and that the sources can be checked. Like a good detective, you need to start with what you know and work backwards. That way, you can create a story that you own and can pass on to your grandchildren.

The full version of this article, by family historian Sue Fifer, can be seen at