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.

Friday, Second Period, Foreign studies

Overseas records: Scouring the globe

Travelling ancestors may have crossed the boundaries between nations. But many of you will have entire branches of your family trees that remained in a foreign land. Use the overseas equivalents of key UK records to discover their stories.

Teacher’s note: Our global records are available to Worldwide members. You may need to upgrade your membership to complete these lessons.

Too easy? Join the Top Set
Take the advanced lesson

Top set

As with our UK records, you can use more advanced overseas records to fill in the detail of your ancestors’ lives. For example, we’ll look at how you can uncover an American soldier’s service.

Imagine we’ve heard our 2x great-uncle, Percival Hilbert, fought in the American Civil War. Ancestry.co.uk is one of very few places we can learn more…

  1. Too easy?

    1Start with the Card Catalogue. Here you can look for any collections that might be relevant – so in this case type ‘Civil War’ into the Title box, untick ‘Only records from the UK and Ireland’ and click ‘Search’. You’ll find 89 matches. To exclude any that aren’t correct, move down the left-hand column and filter your results to include only military collections, then choose USA as the location and the 1800s as the time period.

  2. Too easy?

    2You’ll be left with 67 collections. Select U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles – a huge database with details of millions of soldiers. Simply search for Percival Hilbert by name, and you’ll receive just one match. Click on ‘View Record’ to learn that Percival enlisted as a Private in Company E, 105th Regiment Ohio Infantry on 21st August 1862. He was just 18, so he was born around 1844. The record also says he survived the war.

  3. Too easy?

    3Use your internet browser’s back button to go back to the Card Catalogue results. Further down the list you’ll find the Civil War Pension Index – so we can see if Percival applied for a pension. Again just search with a name. This time the sole match comes with a scan of the original record – click ‘View Image’ to see it. You’ll discover the name of Percival’s wife, Lottie Hilbert. But Lottie is described as a widow – so did Percival survive or not?

  4. Too easy?

    4We can find out by searching records created after the war finished in 1865. For example, 1890 Veterans Schedules is an index of ex-soldiers still alive in 1890 Census. You can use Percival’s name, and scroll down and enter his enlistment year. You’ll get one obvious match – click ‘View Image’ and you’ll discover Percival living in Mecosta, Michigan. The record confirms a Private in the 105th Ohio Infantry, so we’ve surely found the right person.

  5. Too easy?

    5Find Percival again in U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, by repeating the search in step 2. This time click ‘View Record’ to see the transcription. On the right, you’ll see a box named ‘Suggested Records’. This provides other records that we believe may relate to the same person – because either they contain similar details, or other members have linked them in their trees. The first entry is from the 1880 Census; click it to see Percival living with Lottie in Wayland, Michigan.

Start your homework
Download your homework book now

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

Finished all the tutorials? Now take the test


You can keep using Suggested Records to discover more and more records about your ancestors. For example, can you find Percival on the 1910 US Census? Where was he living?

Note down the answer and keep it safe – you’ll be tested on your responses later today!



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