Family Tree Research Begins With Listening! | The Nosey Genealogist's: Help Me With My Family Tree
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Family Tree Research Begins With Listening!

by Nick Thorne, The Nosey Genealogist on August 22nd, 2010

A Grand Day Out for Family History on the Great Central RailwaySome advice that I have found useful, over the years, is to listen to the more senior members of your family if you want to get leads for your family history research. The stories that they have to tell can sometimes be coloured by the passing of time and not be a hundred percent accurate. They can sometimes reflect the “received wisdom” that has been passed down in the family to them, that is stories that have been adjusted to blur over anything that was thought embarrassing to previous generations. Nonetheless listening to our elders is an important place to start and on occasions go back to as a source.

Recently I had the opportunity to learn a bit more from my father about his youth, his parents and trips he made on business. The catalyst was a day out with him on the Great Central Railway. Now getting our parents to sit down and talk about the old days can sometimes be difficult and so the opportunity that a birthday treat of Sunday Lunch in a First Class dinner carriage on a steam train on the Great Central Railway, provided a useful way of learning some new stories from the past.

Family history over lunch on the Great Central Railway

My advice is to record what is said, using a Dictaphone if you have one, or by writing up your notes before you yourself forget them and store them away. The stories can then be used as leads to follow up in your family history research. Remember, however, to check any facts such as vital records details given with primary sources such as birth marriages and death records if you are going to enter them into your family tree! Mistakes are made, maybe not intentionally, but they do happen.

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