Many folk are inspired to visit Wales because of a family link or historic connection to the principality. The purpose of a visit may be to reasearch one’s roots by tracing anscetors. Perhaps you have a Welsh surname or simply just have a small clue as to your family history? Like the long lost American relatives of ours who found us on their third and final trip to Wales, armed only with an old black and white photograph of a farmhouse. Thankfully, someone in a pub in Pontardawe recognised it, and the rest, as they say, is history. Family history.
If you are thinking of travelling to Wales to research Welsh Genealogy then here are a few helpful hints.
1. Do your homework.
It is possible to trace some of your family tree using online resources before you even come to Wales. Popular family history websites with particular relevance to Wales include the FreeBMD project, Familysearch, 1901 census, Ancestry, 1837 online, Ancestor-search and GENUKI which is the genealogical information service for the UK and Ireland, containing a large structured tree of information. For example, if you are interested in tracing family in the Pontardawe area, you will find a page dedicated to town which will list the records available relating to the area, including those compiled by the Pontadawe Historians – a local history group.
2. Consult a local expert
If you time in Wales is limited, it may be worth consulting a local expert who may be able to help you during your stay to make the most of your time. They may also be able to help you once you have left. For example, guests at our holiday cottages in the Swansea Bay area may chose to work with our local genealogy experts at Gower Ancestry who offer a variety of research packages tailored to an individuals needs.
3. Stay near the local archives
Each area of Wales has a local archive service. For example, if you are interested in visiting the Swansea Bay region of Wales to research your family tree, you will probably find yourself visiting the West Glamorgan Archive Service, which holds all documents relating to the history of West Glamorgan. The main searchroom is in County Hall, Swansea and it includes the Family History Centre for genealogists. There are also local access points in Neath Mechanics Institute and Port Talbot Library covering all the major towns and regions in the area including Swansea, Gower, Neath, Port Talbot, the Swansea, Neath and Afan Valleys, Pontardawe, Loughor, Gorseinon and Pontarddulais.
The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth is the major repository of information relevant to Welsh genealogy, such as Bishop’s Transcripts of Parish Registers, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, Nonconformist Records, Probate Records, Tithe Maps and Apportionment Schedules, Legal and Administrative Records, Estate Records and Personal Papers, Pedigree Books, Newspapers, etc.