Family History - Getting Started

Family History Begins At Home

Before visiting the Burns Monument Centre there are some steps you can take in order to make your research time more productive.

Begin by recording your own details, for example, date and place of birth, marriage, spouse, children – then the details of parents, grandparents and so on as you recall them. Your own birth certificate should give the date and place of your parents’ marriage. Copies of their marriage certificate will help you to work backwards from what you already know or can find out.

Documents and photographs

Most families can lay their hands on old documents or photographs, which can be of use to the family historian. Examples of items you might find within the extended family are :

BDM certificates, obituaries/intimations, family bibles, school reports or leaving certificates, apprenticeship papers, graduation certificates/awards, military records, business papers, immigration papers, diaries, address books, letters, postcards, newspaper cuttings, memoirs.

Read Up on Family History or Join a Society

Libraries and bookshops stock a range of material on family history. Look for books that concentrate on sources for Scottish research.

Success or Failure

How successful you are in researching your family is determined by a number of factors, most of which are outwith your control. Whether records survived or not, common Christian names and surnames, the mobility of your family, social status, literacy levels and transcription errors can all affect the accuracy of your search.


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