Past Talks

Exploring your Roots

Date: 15th February 2016
Speaker: Alan Simpson

Alan Simpson is a member of Oxfordshire Family History Society, where his principal role is the co-ordination of the Society’s search services. He is also a member of the Computer Group Organising Panel. Membership of OFHS includes those who live in Oxfordshire and could attend the Society’s monthly meetings, and those with ancestors in the county who live all over the world. See OFHS’s website at:

Alan’s talk aimed to provide an introduction to the techniques used to research your ancestry, both for beginners and those who have already embarked on some research. He illustrated his talk with examples and artefacts from his own family, some of whom had lived abroad.

The main sources for research are: parish registers, the census, old newspapers, wills & inventories and the internet.

He recommended membership of family history societies in the area where your ancestors lived, as these groups are experts in local resources and provide good contacts. has a list of societies.

He advised on the copying of documents, which can be more legible when copied against a dark background. Tips on searching on the internet on websites such as included entering a minimum of information on your ancestor, for example, just their surname, as this is more likely to produce a useful list of possibilities.

The evening closed with a Q&A session with questions concerning the difficulty of researching in North Ireland; tracing ancestors who may have died abroad and widows who had remarried.