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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree March 2018 > Become an online super sleuth!

Become an online super sleuth!

The millions of records held by the popular family history websites are invaluable, and yet how many genealogical gems do we miss because we’re unsure how to mine each site properly? Rachel Bellerby quizzed the experts for a number of the major ancestorhunting websites that family historians turn to time and again to discover how to carry out effective searches. We hope that this information will help you turn up new clues and leads about your folks. Just turn over to begin…


Dig deeper!

As enjoyable as it can be searching for ancestors online, few of us will find our forebears with just a quick click or two of the mouse. And actually, discovering how to make the most of your online searches is very satisfying because rather than simply scratching the surface of the information available on the website in question, with just a few tweaks you can make your searches more powerful, wide ranging, and ultimately more helpful to your family history research.

How to get started

Although each family history website hosts different record collections and has various ways of presenting that information, there are several principles which hold true for most online searches.

Less can be more

Firstly, although you’ll want to arm yourself with as much information as possible before searching for an ancestor online, you might not necessarily need to use all of that detail straight away: sometimes less is more. An exact search may yield either too many or too few records and so you can save yourself time by being creative in your technique.

Be aware of spellings

Remember that many digitised records contain data which was originally collected by an enumerator and written down by that person to be transcribed later, but may also have been transcribed again more recently during the digitisation process. This means that there is scope for details such as place names, occupations and surnames to have been spelled incorrectly at some stage.

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About Family Tree

Where would today's family historian be without the wonders of the web? This issue we give you bespoke clues to help you mine that nugget of ancestral gold from among the billions of records available the major family history websites. But family history isn't just about researching facts. It's about recording and treasuring that family story. So to help you do just this, we also have a guide to building your own website for your genealogical discoveries - an online home for your family archive. Step up, and see where you can take your research next!