The night before Lotusphere Comes To You 2007 (Manchester edition) I sat next to Diane from our Marketing team at dinner, and was absolutely enthralled by her account of tracing her family tree. She’s gone back as far as the 17th century (that’s the 1600’s), and said that some of the ancestors were quite difficult to pin down.

My frolleague Cali Clarke has also done some detective work and has traced her ancestors back to the 18th century. Coincidentally, among the wonderful treasures that the previous owners of Adams Towers left for us before they hoofed it to Spain (that reminds me, I must hire a skip soon) was a CD of a genealogy program. It’s imaginatively named ‘Family Tree’. To give you an idea of how hi-tech it is, the system requirements demanded a 486 processor (hmmm, should be okay with this Pentium), Windows 95 or 98 (XP will have to suffice) and a whopping 8 mb of RAM (yep, I think I can spare that). It looks like it was designed in the Windows 95 era, but Cali confirmed the all-important feature – it supports the open standard for family tree files (GED).

Plotting my past could be a tad tricky on my dad’s side. One limiting factor is that he passed away (and is sorely missed) and is therefore not around to fill in any details. The other factor is that he was adopted, and all we really know is that he was born in Ardrossan (West Scotland) in November 1940. Therefore, it makes more sense to start on my mother’s side. I already knew the details of my maternal grandparents (they died well into my adulthood), and I also knew my grandmother’s maiden name. But that was all. My mum didn’t know much else apart from my great-grandfather’s Christian name.

Fortunately, there are some on-line resources that allow you to search birth, marriage and death records. Unfortunately they only give you so much information, and some sites demand payment for the info. However, there is one site that lets you view the registers for free. The registers only give so much info, but provide the base to then get the certificates which will uncover further details.

So, my next step is to ask my mum and uncle if they have my grandparents’ birth certificates… and if not I can get them from the General Register Office. Then I can get the details on my great-grandparents and start to dig further.

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