Book Reviews, Genealogy Resources, Genealogy Websites

Book Review: Tracing Your Family History on the Internet

Tracing Your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians



Tracing your family history on the internet
AUTHOR:  Chris Paton

PUBLICATION DATE:  Second Edition 2013

ISBN: 9781783030569

GENRE:  Genealogy, Family History

FORMAT: Paperback, eBook – Kindle

NUMBER OF PAGES:  224 pages



The Author

Chris Paton – Image courtesy of


Chris Paton, who is based in North Ayrshire, Scotland, is a professional genealogist who holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Genealogical Studies.  He runs a genealogy research service – Scotland’s Greatest Story – and has many genealogy books including A Beginner’s Guide to British and Irish Genealogy and Researching Scottish Family History.  Chris is a regular contributor to a number of magazines including Family History Monthly, and Your Family Tree.








Book Synopsis

This fully revised second edition of Chris Paton’s best-selling guide is essential reading if you want to make effective use of the internet in your family history research. Every day new records and resources are placed online and new methods of sharing research and communicating across cyberspace become available. His handbook is the perfect introduction to them. Chris has checked and updated all the links and other sources, added new ones, written a new introduction and substantially expanded the social networking section.





Book Layout

Chapter 1 – Gateways and Institutions

Chapter 2 – Genealogical Essentials

Chapter 3 – Occupational Records

Chapter 4 – England

Chapter 5 – Wales

Chapter 6 – Scotland

Chapter 7 – Northern Ireland

Chapter 8 – Crown Dependencies

Chapter 9 – Empire and Migration

Chapter 10 – Social Networking

Further Reading




Book Overview and Discussion

Tracing your family history on the internetTracing your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians- Second Edition (Tracing Your Ancestors) is packed full of websites available for any genealogical topic you can think of.  The one caution I would make is that it is United Kingdom focused, a fact not mentioned in the synopsis of the book.  If you are losing for websites outside the UK this is not the book for you.  That said the number of websites it lists is very thorough for within the UK.

The chapters clearly identify what they contain to make it easy to jump to the section you require.  Its index is also fairly comprehensive, making it easy for you to pinpoint a specific type of record.  However, it does not contain every possible topic in the book, for example, Stillbirths.

Due to the age of the book, some links no longer exist, a fact Chris mentions in his introduction as a limitation of books.  I spent some time randomly checking links.  The vast majority still exist, or if they were broken links then a quick Google search quickly found the new URL for the information.  Unfortunately, the value of this, and any book containing website links, decreases the older it becomes due to the rapid evolution of internet sites.


As discussed, due to the rapid changes on the internet, a book is already out of date by the time it is printed.  Website links change, new websites come on the scene, and older ones no longer exist.  However, with finding anything online to do with your UK research, this is a great starting point.  A quick Google search can often find the new link for the website mentioned in the book.  I personally would use an eBook copy of it as you have the ability to click on the hyperlink in it to be taken directly to the page.  With a physical book, it is always possible to make errors typing the web address into the browser.

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Find some great websites that will help you build a better picture of your ancestors.  

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Tracing your family history on the internet

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Tracing Your Family History on the Internet

  1. Never heard of this books, but I would really like to read it.
    If one goes directly on the web, you can get overwhelmed by the endless amount of websites that offer searching the info for you and most the time you find dead ends.
    I think I will get this book, a better, effective guide to help you find out more, sounds like a great deal to me!
    Thanks for sharing this info!

    1. Hi Arlet

      You are right, there is so much great information on the internet, but one can easily become lost in the abundance. I’m glad this review has helped you. Please let me know how you go!


  2. I’m very interested in finding my family history and making a family tree not only for myself, but for my whole family and future generations to come. my problem is my grandmother on my mother side was adopted and has since passed away. i need your help on how I can gather her heritage background all we know is that she was Irish.
    Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

    Ken B.

    1. Hi Ken

      Obviously with adoptions it is going to be a bit harder to find out your grandmother’s birth family.  Do you know where she was adopted?  Was she adopted at birth or was she older?  You could try a site like for some assistance or suggestions.  I know of adoptees who have had great success with an Ancestry DNA test to find their birth family.  They send the test off and when it returns they can match with other people.  I hope these ideas help.  Please let me know how you go.



  3. Wow. I wish the book was based in the U.S. I would love to be able to trace my family history tree on Google, rather than spend money on something like I think is expensive. I’m not sure if you have a review on here, but if you do, I’ll be sure to read it. Great article.

    1. Hi Shalisha

      There are so many great genealogy resources on the internet and there is literally no way to list them all. I am always looking for places that have a comprehensive listing to ensure I haven’t missed a pot of gold!


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