As a beginner genealogist, building your family tree can be a daunting task. However, with the advent of technology, tools like Chat GPT can help streamline the process by helping you to analyze specific historical records like wills and testaments, old parish baptisms, and marriage records.
But before we dive into how Chat GPT can help, let’s ask Chat GPT where to find these records online and how we could get help in analysing them.
How Chat GPT Can Enhance Your Family Tree Building Process
If you’re a beginner genealogist, you may feel overwhelmed by the vast amount of information you need to gather and sift through to build an accurate family tree. However, you don’t have to do it alone! You can analyze specific historical records and old parish records with the aid of Chat GPT, a sizable language model that is OpenAI trained.
Today I consulted Chat GPT on how to write this article to give you the best information on how to use Chat GPT for your genealogy research.
I learned first how to formulate a PROMPT that would have Chat GPT help me in forming the best PROMPT to achieve the responses that I wanted. My learning today was done with Jason West, in his YouTube Channel, and in his video tutorial I watched as he showcased the One Prompt to Rule Them All.
Now I can share my learning with you, putting the spin on the PROMPTs we may use for Genealogical Research. Here’s my video tutorial. From there I went on to refine my prompts even further and to present examples of how Chat GPT can transcribe from old records. (see below)
The above video tutorial is from my latest Playlist ‘Essential Genealogist Tips: building your family tree’ located on my YouTube channel. If you plan to visit, please subscribe and leave a comment.
Analyzing Historical Records
Historical records, such as wills and testaments, can provide valuable information about your ancestors. Chat GPT can help you look at these records to find out how family members are related to each other and other important facts.
For example, when analyzing a will, Chat GPT can help you identify who the executor is and who the beneficiaries are. It can also help you understand the language used in the will and translate it into modern language. This can be especially helpful if the will was written in a language that is no longer commonly used.
It’s important to note that Chat GPT isn’t perfect and can make transcription errors, so it’s important to double-check the transcribed text against the original document. Also, be aware of potential transcription errors when using key search terms to find records. For example, if you’re searching for the name “John Smith,” the transcribed text may have errors like “Johm Smth” or “John Smithe.”
One of the most exciting things about using Chat GPT is that you can find out small details that can give you important information about family relationships and other things. For instance, a will or testament might name certain family members, giving hints about how they are related and who might be their next of kin. Old parish records may say where a person was born, which can help figure out how their family moved around.
Finding Historical Records Online
Now that you know how Chat GPT can help you analyze historical records and old parish records, you need to know where to find these records online. There are several genealogy databases that you can use to find these records, including FindMyPast, Ancestry, MyHeritage, and FamilySearch.
Each of these databases has its strengths and weaknesses, so it’s a good idea to use multiple databases to get a complete picture of your family tree. Some databases may have more records from certain geographic areas or time periods, so it’s important to use a variety of sources to get the most accurate information.
Here’s a breakdown of what each database offers and examples of the types of records you might find:
|Genealogy Database||Types of Records Available||Examples|
|FindMyPast||Baptism, marriage, burial, and census records from the UK and Ireland||Baptism record of William Shakespeare from 1564, the marriage record of Winston Churchill from 1908|
|Ancestry||Baptism, marriage, burial, and census records from around the world||Baptism record of George Washington from 1732, the marriage record of Elvis Presley from 1967|
|MyHeritage||Baptism, marriage, burial, and census records from around the world||Baptism record of Albert Einstein from 1876, the marriage record of Princess Diana from 1981|
|FamilySearch||Baptism, marriage, burial, and census records from around the world||Baptism record of Abraham Lincoln from 1809, the marriage record of Barack Obama’s parents from 1961|
Each of these databases allows you to search for records by name, date, location, and other criteria. It’s important to keep in mind that not all records are available in every database, so it’s a good idea to search multiple databases to find the most comprehensive information. With a little patience and persistence, you can use these genealogy databases to find useful information about your ancestors and make an accurate family tree.
Understanding and Analyzing Record Content
Once you’ve found the historical records you’re looking for, it’s important to know how to understand and analyze their content. When analyzing historical records, it’s important to pay attention to the smallest details, as these can provide valuable insights into family relationships and other important information.
For example, when analyzing a will, pay attention to who the executor is and who the beneficiaries are. This can help you understand the family relationships and social status of your ancestors. When analyzing old parish records, pay attention to the names of the witnesses and the priest who officiated the ceremony. This can help you identify other family members and uncover new leads.
Analyzing Old Parish Records
Old parish records, such as baptism and marriage records, can be a treasure trove of information about your ancestors. However, these records can be difficult to read and understand. Chat GPT can help you analyze these records to uncover valuable information.
For example, when analyzing a baptism record, Chat GPT can help you identify the child’s name, date of birth, parent’s name, and the name of the officiating priest. When analyzing a marriage record, Chat GPT can help you identify the bride and groom’s names, the date of marriage, and the names of their parents. This information can help you piece together your family tree and uncover new leads.
As a language model trained on a vast amount of text data, Chat GPT has the ability to read and interpret these historical documents with ease. Here’s how Chat GPT can help analyze old parish records:
- Text Recognition: Chat GPT can recognize and transcribe text from scanned or handwritten documents, making it easier for you to read and understand the content.
- Language Translation: If you have ancestors from different countries, Chat GPT can translate the text into your preferred language, so you can understand the content even if it’s in a different language.
- Contextual Understanding: Chat GPT can analyze the context of the document and the language used, providing you with insights about the time period, cultural norms, and other important details that can help you better understand your ancestors.
- Relationship Extraction: By analyzing the text in the document, Chat GPT can identify and extract relationships between individuals mentioned in the record, such as the names of parents or witnesses, which can provide valuable clues for further research.
Chat GPT can be a useful tool for beginning genealogists who want to improve how they build their family trees. By analyzing specific historical records like wills and testaments, and old parish records, and paying attention to small details, you can uncover important information about your family history. And with online databases and websites making these records more accessible than ever, there’s no better time to start your genealogy research journey.
This was the end of that conversation. However, I took it a step further and asked Chat GPT specifically how it could help with transcriptions.
Example Prompt and Response regarding Analysis of a Will
In my discussion with Chat GPT today I wanted a transcription of an old Will from my great-grandfather Samuel John Allery. This document is in PDF format, so I first had to Edit the document in Adobe Reader in order to copy segments of text. The formal will was dated 31st August 1918 and its language was difficult to understand. I asked for a transcription and explanation in modern language from Chat GPT. Below are the responses.
The above response clarified, explained, and modernised the wording from the first segment of the will.
The above response clarified, explained, and modernised the wording from the second segment of the will.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg – there is so much more that I can share with you as I make huge strides forward with my conversations with my newest Genealogy Research and Storywriting Assistant, Chat GPT. Keep up-to-date by subscribing to this blog. (Scroll down)
Introduction to Writing with AI
Are you now intrigued with how Chat GPT can help you with your Genealogy research?
Do you want to learn how to utilise the skills of Chat GPT in writing your family history stories?
What about other AI models that can help with your writing, such as Quillbot? Interested?