How to find family history online
The popularity of TV series about history and, especially, ancestry – such as the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? – has led to a boom in interest in discovering family history and drawing up family trees. This has been made all the easier with the explosion in digital media, with an enormous amount of documentation – like the UK census – going online and becoming freely available.
There’s also an ever-expanding number of computer programs and websites that can walk you through the process (if you feel you need guidance), contain the information you need to trace your ancestors and help you create a detailed family tree or family history document to pass down to your children.
This guide explains how to use Genes Reunited, a genealogy website. It will explain how to register and search for ancestors and build up a family tree. Some searches may require you to pay a fee, however it is free to build a family tree and to add information to this.
- An internet connection
Follow these step-by-step instructions to sign up to Genes Reunited:
Step 1: Open your browser and go to http://www.genesreunited.com.
Step 2: The main page will ask you to either log in with your login details if you have already registered, if you have not already registered, enter the required information and click Let's begin.
Step 3: The website will then search and display a mock birth certificate containing your birth information. You can choose to continue to search for family members or skip to register. For this guide, we will click Register now.
Step 4: You now need to add some additional information, you can do this manually or choose to continue registration through Facebook. For this guide, we shall complete the information, read through the terms and conditions of the site and click Register Free. Be careful to check the tickboxes that relate to information you're happy for the site to send you and confirm that you are happy with the terms and conditions of using the site.
Now your account will be set up and you will be logged into the site. Click Continue to start building your family tree.
Step 5: The website will now walk you through the process of completing your account and building your family tree. Start by completing your details then click Save
Step 6: Now you can search for other family members. You can either search by name:
Or you can use the 'How do I get started?' guide:
Step 6: We will use the quick search option. Type the name of your relative, it's a good idea to start with your immediate family and then brainstorm all those distant relatives! Type the relative's name in the quick search box, and choose to search public records or other people's family trees. We will choose 'Search Records'. Click Search.
Step 7: A list of results will come up. Click View to explore each one. Some of the results will only be visible to paying members.
Free versus subscription
When joining Genes Reunited, as well several other genealogy websites, you have various membership options. It is, of course, for you to decide which one suits you, but here is a run-through of the differences:
- Access to the Genes Reunited community.
- Genes Reunited will match records to your surname to speed up searching.
- You can build your family tree.
- You can search for records, but not necessarily see them.
- You can choose to ‘pay per view’ and pay a small fee to look at individual records that you come across.
As free, plus:
- Access to non-indexed birth and marriage records from 1837-1983 (England and Wales)
- Ability to get in touch with other members directly
- View trees of over 13 million other members
- This costs £1.67 per month* for 12 months or £2.50 a month* for six months.
As standard, plus:
- Unlimited access to the 1911 census where you can see your relatives’ handwriting from the time
- Unlimited access to the Victorian Census Records from 1841-1901 (England and Wales)
- Unlimited access to birth, marriage and death records from 1837-2004 (England and Wales)
- This costs £6.67 per month* for 12 months or £8.33 per month* for six months.
* Prices above expressed monthly. Genes Reunited take the actual payment as one lump sum for full value of membership.