The trail that an ancestor leaves through the Victorian period and the twentieth century is relatively easy to follow - the records are plentiful, accessible and commonly used.
But how do you go back further, into the centuries before the central registration of births, marriages and deaths was introduced in 1837, before the first detailed census records of 1841?
How can you trace a family line back through the early modern period and perhaps into the Middle Ages?
Jonathan Oates's clearly written new handbook gives you all the background knowledge you need in order to go into this engrossing area of family history research.
He starts by describing the administrative, religious and social structures in the medieval and early modern period and shows how these relate to the family historian.
Then in a sequence of accessible chapters he describes the variety of sources the researcher can turn to.
Church and parish records, the records of the professions and the courts, manorial and property records, tax records, early censuses, lists of loyalty, militia lists, charity records - all these can be consulted. He even includes a short guide to the best methods of reading medieval and early modern script.
Jonathan Oates's handbook is an essential introduction for anyone who is keen to take their family history research back into the more distant past.