"I'm really new to this genealogy thing and I've got this information from the family bible. I haven't a clue where to go next to find out any information. I'm tied to my home in Podunk so travelling to places to research is really difficult. Any suggestions?"
Welcome "newbie". That's the term used for someone new to Internet research. It's not perjorative, so no one is putting you down, but understand that some members of the online community are quickly "put off" by people who expect the Internet to have all the answers, or the volunteers who provide help to have all the time in the world to assist you. While the internet is "slowly" starting to make things easier, it does not replace traditional research, trips to the library and good old-fashioned "elbow grease." My way of saying, "do your homework."
This page is dedicated to the new researcher. First of all, I assume that you're here because you have some evidence that your family is from Lincolnshire. There is nothing more frustrating to those of us who volunteer time to have someone say, "Well, my family is English and I was hoping they might be from Lincolnshire." Although Lincolnshire is the second largest county in area, our English ancestors were very mobile and you need to narrow your search area. So, first thing is to find out what part of England, and specifically Lincolnshire, your ancestors hailed from.
The second thing you'll likely need is a good map or two, to understand where Lincolnshire is in relation to other counties and the various roads, rivers and railways that people used to move about the county. We have an entire web page dedicated to Maps and Gazetteers.
Before we get into additional sources, let's talk about your education as a researcher. There are a number of sites that can give you good background information on what records to use and how to find them. I recommend:
Most "newbies" start out with census records as these are easily available and Lincolnshire has the benefit that most areas of the county have been "surname-indexed" so that it's possible to see if the surname you seek was in a particular area. For more information, see our Census page.
Parish Registers can often provide the baptism dates of all the children of a pair of parents, the parents marriage dates and the burial dates of any family members. Remember, the church was not interested in birth or death, but was focused on baptism (to wash away sin) and the burials in the churchyard. Please remember that "christening" was sometimes a separate process that welcomed the child into the church community and gave him/her their name. Do not assume that a baptism was the birth date of the child, that would be rare. It was not until Civil Registration came along in 1837 that birth and death dates were commonly recorded.
You should check our Church Records page for more details on the kind of records and how far back they go.
It may be some time before you need this. But old documents have abbreviations and terminology that has changed meaning over time. Even the legal system has evolved! Here's a good online source to lookup Genealogy and Archaic Terms.
You may want to sign up to a mailing list where you can share your research interests with others working in the same area or on the same surname. Start with just one and read the messages for a few days to judge how much traffic there is before signing up to another. You might start with the Newbies Mailing List at Rootsweb which some people find very good if you are new to computers as well as genealogy.
There is also an active mailing list for Lincolnshire. At the time of last updating this page there were about 900 subscribers. This is an e-mail service. You "subscribe" your e-mail address to the mailing list and you begin to receive e-mail from others who are either researching in the Lincolnshire area or who are answering such queries. There is no cost for this service, and any time you have a question, you can post it to the list. You'll see your posting come back to you from the list a few minutes later, and all 900 others on the list will see it, too. It's a great opportunity to ask if others are searching for the same families, or to see if someone can help you past a stubborn spot in your research. Don't be afraid to sign up and just read the different postings for a few weeks. We call that "lurking," - again, not a pejorative term. Once you are comfortable with the way the list operates, you can go from Lurker to Poster with your first request. To subscribe, send an e-mail to: ENG-LINCSGEN-L-request@Rootsweb.com with only the word "subscribe" (without the quotes) in the Subject and Body of your e-mail.
An e-mail warning: When you ask a question, it's OK to reveal your ignorance or newness. But in any "online community" there are all types of people. Some may take offense or attack you because they disagree with your findings. Don't "rise to the bait."
Some terms you should know (often used on the Internet or in E-mail):
Another term to know: Closure Law: In England there is a 100-year closure period for most public documents like census returns, workhouse records, etc. It is a Privacy Act, intended to protect the privacy of individuals and families. The act also ensures that government agencies can't sell the data to anyone. So, if you are looking for family around 1940, the records may not be available until 2041.
In order to protect the privacy of your relatives, I recommend that you don't publish birth dates or marriage dates for anyone still living. Replace the date with "Living" or something similar. It's unlikely that you would be sued for publishing the dates, but a professional researcher would protect the privacy of living people and so should you. Every country has a different attitude toward Privacy. I suggest a very conservative approach to ensure that you meet each country's expectations.
The most common mistake for Newbies is to take all the information they find and to add it to their family tree without documentation. Here are some thoughts on how to do it right:
Last updated on 26-March-2015
Click here to send any questions and/or comments about this site to the Lincolnshire County Coordinator.
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