Chat GPT: my newest genealogy research assistant

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Chat GPT: my newest genealogy research assistant


Artificial Intelligence – is on my mind!

I have been using Chat GPT for a few months now and love it.

I have discovered a niche purpose: seeking answers from Chat GPT about genealogy research.

There are limits to what this AI tool can do; for instance, it cannot do the research for you. However, what it can do, and do well, is provide an outline of steps for you to deepen your genealogy research. Chat GPT can help you do research with a few carefully worded, specific, and highlighted questions and prompts.

I have incorporated my explorations with Chat GPT into my latest series of Essential Genealogist Tips, to give a different perspective on the what, how, where, and why questions that are frequently asked.

You can find the latest Essential Genealogist Tips on my YouTube channel here:


The latest ones all include a conversation with Chat GPT.

Chat GPT has become my newest genealogy research assistant.

The Chat GPT, which was taught by OpenAI, is a large language model that can understand and use natural language. It can be a valuable asset for genealogists wanting to dig deeper into their family histories. Genealogists can use Chat GPT to get a lot of information about their ancestors, like birth and marriage certificates, information about who owned property, and more.

One of the key benefits of using Chat GPT is that it can help genealogists save time. Rather than spending hours combing through dusty old records and archives, genealogists can simply ask Chat GPT for the information they need. In a matter of seconds, Chat GPT can direct your search through enormous amounts of data, to the right place and do that quickly and effectively.

For instance this conversation:

Please provide a list of the sort of details I might find in church records about my ancestors – list these in a tabular format and suggest methods of searching for them

Sure, here’s a list of the sort of details you might find in church records about your ancestors:

Category Details
Baptism Date of baptism, child’s name, child’s parents’ names, parents’ occupations, their residence, name of the minister, names of the godparents or sponsors
Marriage Date of marriage, names of the bride and groom, their ages, their residences, their occupations, their fathers’ names and occupations, name of the minister, names of the witnesses
Burial Date of burial, name of the deceased, their age, their residence, cause of death, name of the minister

To search for these records, you may want to start by finding out which churches your ancestors might have attended. You can use online resources like Ancestry, FindMyPast, or FamilySearch to search for church records by location or by name. You can also visit local archives, libraries, or historical societies to view records in person. It’s also worth checking with the relevant diocese or church to see if they have any records available. It’s important to note that not all records may have been preserved, and some may have been lost or damaged over time.

Another benefit of using Chat GPT is that it can help genealogists uncover information that they might not have otherwise found. A lot of the information that Chat GPT has access to is not easy to find with regular genealogical research methods. Thus, using Chat GPT could help genealogists learn intriguing new information about their ancestors.

For instance this conversation:

I am now searching for the Last Will and Testament for my great grandfather Samuel John Allery, he died in Camberwell Surrey on the 28 June 1922. He is buried in the old cemetery Southwark. Where will I be able to find his Will and what is it likely to tell me?

To find the Last Will and Testament of your great grandfather Samuel John Allery, you can start by searching the Probate Registry. The Probate Registry is responsible for handling and storing the wills of deceased persons in England and Wales. You can search for wills online through the government website, Gov.uk, or through the website of the Probate Registry.

Once you locate your great-grandfather’s will, it is likely to provide you with information about the following:

    1. The assets and property he owned at the time of his death.
    2. The names and details of the beneficiaries to whom he left his assets and property.
    3. The name of the executor of the will and any trustees.
    4. Any special requests or instructions he may have included in the will.
    5. Any debts or liabilities he owed at the time of his death.

It’s important to note that not all wills go through probate and are therefore not available through the Probate Registry. Additionally, some wills may have been lost or destroyed over time. In such cases, you may need to consult other sources such as family members, genealogical records, or local archives to try and locate the will.

Chat GPT can give users access to a lot of information that may not be easy to find using traditional genealogical research methods. This could include, for example, social media posts, online news articles, public records, and other forms of digital data that may provide insights into an individual’s life and experiences. For example, a genealogist may be able to find out about an ancestor’s hobbies, jobs, relationships, or other traits that may not have been written down in traditional genealogical records by asking Chat GPT questions about them.

For instance this conversation:

I now wish to find out more about the properties bequeathed to my ancestors by great-grandfather Samuel John Allery. Where will I find out more about the value of the properties listed at 4, 6, 8, and 10 Crown Street Camberwell and 46, 4, 50, and 52 Elton Road Norbiton Kingston on Thames in 1922?

One way to find out more about the value of the properties bequeathed by Samuel John Allery would be to locate his probate record. The probate record should provide an inventory of his assets and an appraisal of their value at the time of his death.

To locate the probate record, you can start by searching the England & Wales National Probate Calendar, which is available online at several genealogy websites such as Ancestry and Findmypast. You can search by name, year of death, and place of residence.

Once you have located the probate record, it should provide more information on the properties and their value. You can also try searching historical property records and land registries, which may be available through local archives or online resources.

Genealogists can also benefit from Chat GPT’s capacity for data analysis and interpretation, which is another key feature. For example, by looking at patterns and trends in data about a family’s life, Chat GPT may be able to shed light on the social, economic, and political factors that shaped that family’s life. Genealogists can better understand their ancestors’ lives and motivations by learning more about the context in which they lived.

For instance this conversation:

I am now interested in seeing the properties bequeathed in my great-grandfather’s will. Can you tell me what tools I can use online to view the properties’ locations in 1922 and how I might view them today?

There are a few online tools you can use to view the properties bequeathed in your great-grandfather’s will and compare their locations in 1922 to their current locations:

    1. Old Maps Online: This website offers access to historical maps from around the world. You can search for the street addresses of the properties and view the maps of the area from the 1920s to see where the properties were located at the time.
    2. Google Maps Street View: This feature on Google Maps allows you to see what the streets and buildings look like today. You can enter the street addresses of the properties and use Street View to see what they look like now.
    3. Property websites: Websites such as Zoopla and Rightmove allow you to search for properties by street address. You may be able to find information about the current properties, including photos and descriptions, and compare them to the descriptions in your great-grandfather’s will.

It’s important to note that some properties may have been demolished or significantly altered since 1922, so they may not look the same today as they did then. Additionally, the street numbering system may have changed, so you may need to do some research to ensure that you are looking at the correct properties.

Note how Chat GPT gives genealogists a unique chance to try out new research methods and maybe find out interesting new things about their ancestors. No matter how experienced you are with genealogy, Chat GPT can help you learn more about the past and learn more about your family history.

Keeping track of your Chat GPT Prompts

I recommend that you keep a copy of the prompts and responses from your conversations with Chat GPT in a Google Doc or Spreadsheet. You can then refer to these frequently when delving into similar prompts with Chat GPT. By keeping a record you are also ensuring that your research is captured and can be shared with others.


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3 replies on “Chat GPT: my newest genealogy research assistant”

This is really great information Carole and some things there that I hadn’t thought to ask ChatGPT. I’m looking forward to learning more about AI from your lessons.

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