Welcome to the Ancestry Academy…

September is here and children all over the country are heading back to school. It’s the perfect time to dig out your pencil case and do some learning of your own – in the Ancestry Academy! Whether you’re a new starter or a top set whiz kid, this week’s lessons will help you develop your family history skills and make brand new discoveries.

Monday, First Period, Design & Technology

Family trees: Building your bridge to the past

Your family tree is the bridge that connects you with your ancestors throughout history. If you construct each section with care, you’ll find it far easier to cross the rivers of time, and visit the various periods in your family’s past.

Too easy? Join the Top Set
Take the advanced lesson

New starters

We’ll look at how to start your family tree and add the first few generations. You’ll see how building your tree makes it much easier to find new ancestors and discover the details of their lives.

For this lesson, we’ll play the part of Frances Mary Bradshaw. We know our parents, plus limited details about our grandparents. Let’s see how far we can go…

  1. Too easy?

    1Start a new family tree. Enter our character’s name and gender, with her birth date of 11th June 1980 and place of Coventry, Warwickshire. Then continue on and add her father James (born 12th May 1947 in Peterborough) and mother Hannah Hall (1st July 1949, also in Peterborough). You’ll be asked to give your tree a name – let’s call it ‘Lesson One’ so we can easily find it to delete it later, and keep it private so people aren’t confused by it in the meantime.

  2. Too easy?

    2You can now see what’s called a pedigree view of our family tree. Coming from both our parents are options to add their mother and father. We’ll stick to our paternal Bradshaw line for now, so click ‘Add Father’ above James. We know our grandfather was named Eric and was born somewhere in Huntingdonshire. We remember him celebrating his 85th birthday around the year 2000, so we’ll guess at a birth date of ‘Abt 1915’, and we know he passed away in 2001.

  3. Too easy?

    3When you click ‘Save’, you’ll get a message telling you about new Hints. As you build your family tree, Ancestry.co.uk automatically searches for your ancestors’ details in its records. Click ‘See Hint’, and you’ll find a list of three suggestions. The bottom two are from the official birth, marriage and death indexes – they’ll give us all the information we need to order copies of Eric’s birth and death certificates, to learn more about how he lived. The top one looks packed with information and is from another member’s public family tree – review that one, then select it on the next screen and confirm.

  4. Too easy?

    4The Hint tells us Eric’s full name, plus his precise birth and death dates. However, the really exciting details are his parents’ names – these are new relatives for us to explore. You’d want to do some more digging to confirm the information – by checking it with living relatives, or ordering those birth and death certificates. For now, though, let’s assume it’s correct. Select each piece of information by clicking the tick boxes, then choose ‘Add’ next to the parents’ names and click ‘Save to your tree’.

  5. Too easy?

    5Return to your tree, and you’ll see Alfred Bradshaw and Elizabeth Ann Palmer have been added – and there are now hints for both of them. Alfred actually has nine hints! Click on the leaf to see them all; he may appear in family trees, military records and the National Probate Calendar. We’ll scroll down and review the hint from the 1891 England Census. This doesn’t tell us anything new about Alfred, but it reveals three potential new ancestors: his parents, and a sister named Emily – our 2x great-aunt! Again, you can add all of these to your tree.

Start your homework
Download your homework book now

Too easy? See how you do in the Top Set
Take the advanced lesson

Are you finished? Start the next lesson


We could keep on building the Bradshaw family tree, discovering clues about more and more generations. See if you can add one more person – can you use the Hints for Alfred to find the name of his brother?

Note down the answer and keep it safe until the end of the week – you’ll be tested on your responses on Friday! Also, don’t delete the Lesson One tree yet as you’ll need it later this week but remember to remove it after Friday. To do this, go to the main pedigree view, hover over the arrow next to Tree pages and choose Tree settings – then click ‘Delete your tree’.



Monday's free period

Prize Draw 1

Family Tree Maker

Win 1 of 10 copies of our latest software

Be one of the first people to get your hands
on the new and improved version of our award-winning family history software. It comes complete with improved integration with your Ancestry.co.uk account, advanced charts and reports, interactive timelines and maps, and many more great new features.
We have ten copies ready to be won.

Enter the prize draw

Closing date 30th September

Tuesday’s free period

Prize Draw 2

WDYTYA? magazine

10 subscriptions up for grabs

Trace your family's past and discover your roots with Who Do You Think You Are? magazine. Brought to you by the team
behind BBC History Magazine, and the
official companion to the successful TV
series, WDYTYA? magazine's features
range from military to social history, telling
the stories of ordinary and extraordinary people and how they used to live. We have ten subscriptions to give away.

Enter the prize draw

Closing date 30th September

Wednesday’s free period

Prize Draw 3

Worldwide Memberships

Win 1 of 5 annual memberships

Our worldwide membership provides everything you need to trace your family history around the world. Scour the globe
with unlimited access to our entire library
of over 7 billion records, plus guaranteed access to all our new releases. We have
five annual memberships to give away.

Enter the prize draw

Closing date 30th September

Thursday’s free period

Prize Draw 4

National Trust passes

Win 1 of 50 pairs of tickets

We’re working with the National Trust to preserve our nation’s history, and help you uncover your family’s place in it. To
celebrate our partnership, we’re giving away 50 pairs of day passes to the National Trust property of your choice. Don’t miss the
chance to experience the history of Uppark, see the beauty of Fountains Abbey, or visit another of the Trust’s 350 properties.

Enter the prize draw

Closing date 30th September