Family History Research

January 25, 2013 · 2 comments

in Family History,Research

by Ciara Kerrigan, Research Services

Thousands of people visit us here at the NLI each year to carry out research on their family history. Many of these visitors know little or nothing about where to start; some may have found their family on the 1901 and 1911 Census Online and want to go back further, while others may have heard stories about certain ancestors and  want to find out if these stories are true. A sizeable number of family history researchers come from overseas – the UK, US, Canada and Australia – and are looking to find more information on their Irish roots. Because records for Irish family history research are located in a number of different places, it can be difficult for anyone starting out to know where to go. In addition, the huge number of websites devoted to genealogy can be a minefield for those new to this kind of research.

Family History Research

Our new Family History Research booklet. Pick up a copy from our Genealogy Advisory Service or download it from the Family History section of our website...

Our new booklet Family History Research: Sources at the National Library of Ireland, which is available in our Genealogy Advisory Service and also downloadable from our website, aims to address some of these issues. The booklet provides simple information on starting your research, and on locating and using NLI collections such as Catholic parish registers, newspapers and city directories. It also gives information on little used sources such as records of former landed estates, as well as heraldic records. Where possible we have included links to relevant free websites, and handy tips to help you get the most from your research.

Snuff and Tobacco Dealers

City directories are really useful whether your relatives were gentry or snuff sellers. We have almanacs and directories for towns all over Ireland, and the ones we have for Dublin date back to the 18th century...

We’d really love to hear your views on the booklet, and any tips you might have for fledgling family history researchers. If you’ve discovered a really useful free website that helped you, chances are it could help someone else too, so please let us know by commenting below and then we can add it to our Genealogy Links webpage…

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Póló January 28, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Excellent booklet and very nicely produced. I have drawn it to the attention of some friends who are poking at their ancestors and they were thrilled to get it.

I’ll be looking at it myself in more detail over time, but it struck me to say one thing, which I’m not sure is covered in the booklet. Don’t be afraid to use raw Google in this area and stick in all sorts of combinations of key words, with and withoug quotes.

I found a cousin (a few times removed in all directions) in this way. She came up in a database of women activists compiled by some lady in UCD. I don’t remember the details offhand. But the general point is not to ignore the obvious non-specialised tools.

Also I usually tell people who are chasing their ancestors to start a web page (though that’s work for them) or a blog (that’s work done for them) and stick up some stuff on it. The aim here is to put your head above the cyber parapet so that others can find you. I have been found many times over in this way and those contacts have provided me with whacks of stuff on the outer reaches of my own family.

My family history index page is here though some of the entries are a bit out of date and need a refresh. I just can’t keep up with all the stuff that’s coming at me. But it is very stimulating and great fun.


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