Find a Census Identity

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YOU can spend many hours cooped up in a research room in the pursuit of your family history. So what better than to break the routine occasionally and get out into the field.

You can determine the streets where your ancestors lived by the 19th century census returns.Used in conjunction with modern maps you can then establish whether these still exist. Make a note of all the addresses you are interested in for a particular area and set out with camera and notebook to find your ancestral roots.

Many Victorian houses carried date stones with the name of the builder/occupier and the date of construction.

Record these so you can match the information with your photographs at a later date.

It is also worth photographing the surrounding area and comparing your photographs with the many old photographs which may exist. You can track these down via your local history library/record office, while an increasing number are being made available on the internet.

One landmark you will find is the local parish church. In Victorian times the church or chapel was at the centre of the religious and social lives of the local inhabitants. And it is in the churchyard and in the building itself that interesting discoveries can be made about your ancestors.

If you know the area where your ancestor died or was buried there will be a burial record.

First stop is the parish register which gives the date of burial. Some parish registers will go into more detail and give the date of death. The National Burial Index, now available on CD-Rom is also a useful tool in researching your ancestor's burial place.

Many areas, particularly in Lancashire, also had nonconformist chapels with their own graveyards, so if your ancestor was a nonconformist, don't forget to check these chapels out too.

Having consulted the registers you need to find out the place where your ancestor was buried.

If your luck is in, the grave plot will have a head stone with an inscription which can give even more information. …