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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is an excellent reference book for anyone starting out in family history research.

The 224 pages are divided into chapters 1. Getting started 2. The census explained. 3. Birth marriage and death. 4. Before civil registration 5. Using archives. 6. Occupations. 7. Delving further. 8. Build your family tree on a pc. 9. Genealogy friends on line. 10. Resources.

The chapter headings and order might seem odd to a beginner, but make sense as for example the census contains a lot of data, so is a good place to start. The census began around 1841 in England and is collected every 10 years, however the format/info changes up to the most recently published survey 1911. Helpful tips are included for example parts of the 1861 census are missing hence your relatives might be present on 1851 and 1871 but not in 1861. The ages recorded in the census can be rounded, and individuals may not have given correct information. For example birth place could be recorded as where they lived as a child rather than where they were actually born. The book recommends noting the source of any information, this is very useful as your tree grows and conflicting data appears, knowing the accuracy of a piece of source info can be important.

The book has a lot of pictures of various documents such as the census and marriage certificates. Many web sites are listed and it is noted which are free and which parts of subscription sites have limited free access. Screen shots of many web pages are given and the data explained. (I was hoping there might be a way to make using the freeBMD marriage searching data searching easier, but the original records are written with the quarter in which the marriage took place and the surname only of the partner, to get the first name of the partner you have to search on the partners surname, in the same quarter.) The book simply notes to cross check marraige records, it is straight forward once you have done it a few times but a specific example of this could be helpful for beginners.

The focus of the book is on UK and Ireland, it does not cover the rest of the world.

The book comes with a software CD a trial version of Family Historian starter edition 4.1 (requires MS Vista, XP or Windows 7 and 40MB hard drive space) this will hold 80 records (People). (full software downloadable for £35.99 at time of writing) On brief examination the software appears comprehensive whilst easy to use. It's possible to keep paper records and not use a pc, however if you follow all your ancestors including their siblings and families it can soon become very complex and with the large family sizes in the last century 80 records is soon used up. Other software is available such as Family Tree Maker which is linked to the ancestry site for example. There is a universal format for family tree software GEDCOM which many (all?) software programmes should allow export in so that you can swop to different software packages at a later date. For example: Family Tree Maker 2012 World Edition (PC) Who Do You Think You Are? Family Tree Maker Deluxe Edition Version 4 (PC) New Version

Gather what information you can for free before deciding to subscribe to a service or buy credits with a number of providers.
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VINE VOICEon 6 January 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If, like me, you have ever thought about tracing your family tree you too may have been put off by the amount of information that is available and the daunting prospect of where to start. Enter the 'which' guide to tracing your family history. I have reviewed several other 'which' guides in the past and have found them all to be well researched and easy to follow books. This volume proved to be no different.
The first section, Getting Started, sets us off on the right foot. Don't be too ambitious initially, write down what you already know, interview the more elderly members of your family, keep records. You will be surprised at the amount of information this will glean.
The next thee chapters then invite you to explore the established means of tracing your family tree; the census, births, marriages and deaths and gleaning information for the years before formal registration was in use. All three chapters offer invaluable advice on where to look for those family members.
Three sections then follow on more 'outside the box' techniques. Using and researching archives, looking at people's occupations, school records and transport.
We then look at starting to build up a family tree on a PC, perhaps the most popular way of creating a genealogy given the number of software programmes available.
Finally the book looks at genealogy on line through popular sites such as Friends Reunited and its sister site.
Throughout the book prices are quoted at 2011 values for obtaining information from places such as the Public Records Office in Kew along with subscription rates for the popular genealogy sites.
A cd-rom is included with the book containing a copy of the 'Family Historian starter edition' with instructions on how to upgrade to the full version.
Highly recommended and I've promised myself I will start work on my family tree, just as soon as I can find a bit of free time!
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
For anyone new to family history research, this book is probably ideal and I enjoyed reading it. If you're already into genealogy, you probably need to look elsewhere although you'll still find plenty of good material here.

The book leads you gently into getting started, with advice on how to glean information and how to document it. It goes on to tell you all about census records and how to use them, then other records such as birth/marriage/death certificates. Beyond that, advice is provided on parish registers, visiting cemeteries and even a fascinating couple of pages on `How to read a headstone'. There are sections on occupations, further research and collaboration with others.

Finally, along with advice on choosing and using software, including building your own family tree website, Family Historian Starter Edition software is provided. I haven't tried it, because I already use alternative software, but it should make an excellent way of getting started.

The only weakness I found is that the book is short on help for people with families from abroad (although Ireland is covered). Otherwise, I'd rate this a near-perfect book for anyone from the UK starting out on researching their family history.
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VINE VOICEon 12 February 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
These days there are so many books, magazines, free guides and internet programs to help people trace their family history that I thought that Tracing Your Family History Made Easy from Which might be one too many. I was wrong this is a good tool for both beginner and intermediate researcher.

The book at well over 200 pages is pack with information, tips and guides that are for the most part easy to follow. The included CD-Rom Family Historian Starter Edition 4.1 is not quite so easy to get to grips with but with a little practice it is very handy indeed.

I would recommend the would be researcher to get well into the book before starting work as little gems keep popping up that really make things easier. All in all though it is easy reading and the step by step structure makes it feel easy whether you dedicate a few hours a day or a few hours a month.

In the past I have started a couple of times to research my family history and never really got into it but with this book, the CD and a little bit of dedication I really have make some progress. Well I am back to 1765 so far and there is great interest as there may be a transportee to Botany Bay, Australia in the family!

I really do recommend this book.
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VINE VOICEon 9 February 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
With more and more people looking into their family history, more and more authors are trying to get their share of the beginners market. And this one is definitely near the top of the pile. It takes you the basics, as there aren't really that many shortcuts when it comes to establishing facts, holds your hand through investigating official records, and goes on to look at computer tools for helping you on your way. However, folks from the UK who don't live in England should approach with caution as it is very Anglo-centric. Regardless, the basics are laid out well, and it's well worth a read.
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VINE VOICEon 20 February 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have spent quite a few days trying to uncover the past history of my family. And I must admit I found out a little bit, but it was quite hard work trawling through the many sites which claim to offer information only to present you with a page to input your credit card details before they will show you what you think is the right information.

I was therefore quite pleased to read this book and see that there are quite a few free resources available to the budding genealogist. And this book not only provides links to those sites but also gives out excellent information and tips on how to begin your search and what to do if you do not find what you are looking for. There are sections on many different types of records and how to go about building up the past. And it is all very well laid out and easy to follow. There are even tips on how to present this information in the correct manner to be preserved for posterity.

For me the biggest value were the tips on how to search effectively. Many hours were wasted looking through records and thinking that they did not contain the information I wanted, when with the help of this book I have already managed to begin to uncover another layer of my tree. Looks like another weekend in front of the computer looms!

There is a CD provided which unfortunately only works on PCs, so us ever growing Mac users will have to use one of the many online resources available such as Genesreunited to create our family trees. Or of course you could use a scroll of parchment and ink...
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VINE VOICEon 16 February 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This amazing guide is prepared in the form of a training textbook. It takes you through this maze step by step. Well constructed it is further supported by CD and software. All is explained in the book and makes a good read. Tracing your family has just become easier.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have been meaning to start a family tree for quite a few years and this "Which: Tracing Your Family History Made Easy" has finally nudged me in the right direction.

Firstly because of the thorough step by step instructions within the book itself and secondly because it comes complete with easy to use software to get your family tree started (please note the software included can only store up to 80 names, you will need to upgrade to the full version to add unlimited family members)

The book is excellent on many levels, by utilizing the simple to follow steps you will be able to get started with: yourself, your living relatives, learn how to keep records, start your family tree and create a drop down chart.

The Census Explained: What can the census tell you, where to find the census, explore different census, how to download and read a census.

Birth, Marriage and Death: Certificates, search for BMD certificates online, what the indexes tell you, how and where to order the certificates from, what the certificates tell you, wills, probates and orbituaries.

Berfore Civil Registration: Going further back in time, Parish records (how to find them online and offline, what they tell you etc), non-conformists and Roman Catholics, graves and inscriptions, visiting a churchyard and reading headstones, wills proved in ecclesistical courts, how to find wills online and poor law records.

Using Archives: Visiting and using the National Arhcives.

Occupations: Apprentices, masters and freemasons, trade guilds and livery companies, legal and medical professions, the clergy, emergency services, armed forces and other occupations.

Schools, universities, healing the sick, criminal ancestors, transportation, immigration, emigration, missing births, blue blood, manorial records and newspapers.

Build Your Tree on a PC: Choices of software, how to use and how to build a website.

Online: Join a mailing list, web forums, blogs, social networking sites.

And much more.

As you can see from the above list, this "Which Guide" to Tracing Your Family Tree really covers most things needed to get a really good start on your own family tree ... I know that I have made a pretty good beginning in the last few weeks.

Give it a try, it's great fun and not as hard as you think.
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VINE VOICEon 22 December 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This should be the very first port of call for the novice but there are a few ideas in it for the seasoned family history researcher. If you are starting out, buy a copy. You'll need to refer to it and make notes. If you've been going a while, get a copy from the library and flick through for good ideas.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was impressed with the computer CD that came with the book which loaded in just seconds without any problems. The user interface was simple to use and the records structured themselves into a logical order.

When I put in my missus, for example, the program did not prompt for her parents but it was obvious from the headings that the information was needed, if available, and clicking on the relevant heading took me to the data entry for that person. All very simple and straightforward with no steep learning curve.

Within minutes I had a family tree of my Grandparents, parents, me and the missus, my kids and their spouses and their kids.

I know the hard part is finding the records to go back further but unlike some family tree programs which are overly complicated the simplicity of this Which? offering has encouraged me to continue.

I think this would be an excellent package for budding genealogists to start with.
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