Family History for Beginners

Group Leader:     Betty McDonald 01292 479083
Location:         Carnegie Library, Ayr
Day and time:     Varies with each course, to suit participants

Who Do You Think You Are?  Do you often watch this programme and think you’d like to trace your own family? Do you wonder why you have never got started? You are not alone!  Family History for Beginners may be just the nudge you need!  

This is not your usual OiR group in that it runs only for a few weeks, as demand dictates.  Each session takes the form of a short presentation, followed by participants using that information to work on their own family tree with some support. Topics covered include:

  • Record keeping
  • What you already know
  • Using certificates
  • How the Internet can help
  • Resources available in the library

Once started, most people can access lots of information relatively (pardon the pun!) easily. However, members of staff within the Local History section of Carnegie Library have lots of detailed knowledge and they would be delighted to help OiR members who are “stuck”!


WEEK 1 Sheena Crook, a senior South Ayrshire Council member of staff in the Local History Section, gave a presentation on the resources available, both in the library and beyond, and how they can be used to aid research.  Comments from those taking part included “fascinating”, “inspiring”, and “a bit overwhelming”.  There is great excitement about getting down to work next week. 

WEEK 2 saw Group Leader, Betty, teaching good habits of record keeping before encouraging the participants to take the first steps in compiling their own family tree.  It was amazing how quiet the room became as they discovered details from birth and marriage certificates and added them to their own pedigree sheets.  Photos attached.

WEEK 3 found the participants trying to discover some of their ancestors using the internet.  Despite being warned how time consuming and exasperating it would be, some people were clearly disappointed at how little progress they made in an hour.  Everyone, however, was keen to try again next week.  Let’s keep our fingers crosses for more productive searching!

WEEK 4.  The final meeting of the group concentrated on using the websites available, free of charge, at local libraries and investigating the other resources also available there.

Feedback from the course has been positive – the pace and delivery seemed to suit most participants – and everyone felt they had gained useful information to help them in their search.

Are you kicking yourself because you didn’t get round to putting your name down?  If so, don’t delay – phone Betty McDonald on 01292 479083 to make sure you don’t miss out a second time.  Names being taken NOW.

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