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How to Find Out Who Your Great-Grandparents Were

Find my past author
Findmypast
30 April 2019

Can you name all eight of your great-grandparents? Do you know what they did for a living? How about where they lived? This simple guide will help you find out who your great-grandparents were, and give you an insight into what their lives may have been like.

Make Notes

First, make a list of your parents' and grandparents' names (including maiden names), their birthdates and birthplaces, and where and when they got married. If possible,
ask your parents and grandparents to help fill the gaps. Don't worry, however, if you aren't able to gather much information. The wonders of modern technology should be able to help…

Start Your Tree

Starting a Findmypast family tree is the best way to continue your family history journey. The family tree builder will ask pertinent questions about you, your parents and your grandparents. It doesn't matter if you don't have all the answers, the family tree builder will cross-reference birth and marriage records to come up with suggestions for you. After spending a few minutes using the family tree builder, you'll have a basic family tree.

Let Hints Do the Hard Work

Now you have a family tree, it will automatically search records – everything from censuses to birth, marriage and death records – for mentions of your family members. If a match is found, an orange bubble will appear next to the relevant person. These are called
hints. Click the hint, review the details listed in the hint and choose whether to add them to your family tree.

Spread the Net

Hints can help you go back multiple generations in no time. It's always useful, however, to ask extended family if they have any corroborating information. Your parents' cousins and their children will share some of the same ancestors as you and if you're really lucky someone in your extended family may have already unearthed information on your great-grandparents. Ask around and if one of your relatives has already done some work on the family tree, ask them if they wouldn't mind sharing!

Follow the Paper Trail

If your tree hints haven't been able to find your great-grandparents (or they seem to have, but you aren't 100% sure they've found the correct people and you want further confirmation) then birth certificates are the most foolproof way of discovering the identity of previous generations.

Once you know the full names of your grandparents (including grandmothers' maiden names) and where and when they were born, the easiest way to discover their parents' names is by ordering a copy of their birth certificate because they will be listed on the document. Don't know your grandmothers' maiden names? Your parents' birth certificates will list them. Ordering certificates is easy.
Here's how you can do it.

Go Deeper

If you've followed all the steps so far, you should now know the names of your great-grandparents. This is where the fun really starts. Your great-grandparents could appear in all sorts of historical records that might reveal juicy bits of information about their lives, and maybe even give you an insight into the kind of people they were. Happy hunting!

Essential Record Sets for Discovering More About Your Great-Grandparents