Are you starting out researching your Family Tree? Here are some rules to keep you on the right track in this podcast: Five Golden Rules for Family History Research.
If perhaps, like myself, you’ve been doing your family tree research for any length of time then no doubt you’ll have discovered that a number of your own forefathers weren’t quite as you envisioned. The problem occurs in the event that the skeleton, which our forbears have managed to shut away inside the proverbial cupboard, comes tumbling out due to your time and efforts to research your family history. In my own case an ancestor proved to have had a previous wife and children that not one of my relatives knew about. It might appear that this individual conveniently did not seem to remember about his former family when he married into our line! The result of uncovering these facts were that some of my kin were very annoyed with me. They believed that my submitting to them my findings somehow besmirched the fine name of the subsequent wife and our ancestor, whose religious upbringing and moral teaching rejected the concept of any divorce.
It might appear from fresh academic research, carried out at the University of Warwick, that I am one of many. It was while reading on the Reuters internet site that I found the following: â€œA recent study revealed that people researching their family history often open a Pandora’s Box of secrets that can unsettle and offend relatives, sometimes permanently damaging relations.â€
Sociology Professor Anne-Marie Kramer revealed to the British Sociological Association’s yearly conference in Glasgow that in her study, conducted amongst 224 individuals who gave her details of their family history research, around thirty of these mentioned conflict.
In the report, published on Reuters’ website, Kramer noted that the considerable factors behind conflict had been when unwelcome information was uncovered, requesting information from relatives who would prefer not to give it, relatives supplying inaccurate information, expending more time on researching family history rather than with loved ones, and coming into contact with hostile relations.
The Professor explained how men and women in Great Britain, Canada, Australia and the United States were being able to view numerous examples of historical data today caused by the amazing growth in the family history and heritage community both on-line and off.
“But in investigating their family history, researchers could open up a Pandora’s Box of secrets and skeletons, such as finding there are family issues around paternity, illegitimacy or marriage close to birth of children, criminality, health and mental health and previously unknown humble origins,” Kramer said in a statement on Warwick University’s website.
Perhaps we should all bear in mind the need to exercise just a little awareness and diplomacy whenever we set out to interact with our extended family about our genealogical studies. Family historians, endeavouring to research their particular family tree, ought to bear in mind this word of caution that not each and every one will welcome you finding out the truth. Health Warning: Family history research can damage your relationships with your relatives, if you are not careful!ï»¿
The censuses can baffle people beginning family history, when they first encounter them. You go on to a commercial site and pay to download the image of your long lost ancestors and you are presented with an official form covered in sometimes difficult to read handwriting and what looks like lots of lines crossing out some of the data.
Lets start at the top!
The Header contains the Location. That is broken down into sub sections, for example: the administrative county; the civil parish, etc. Boundaries were constantly changing and although it may appear that your ancestor has moved between the census, it could just have been a change in administrative division that had taken place. Also beware of house number changes or street name changes. I had one in my tree where 2 Densham Terrace, was 80 North Road and is now 199 North West Road, Plymouth!
The column on the far left of the document is the Schedule Number and NOT the house number! With the exception of the 1911 census, what we are looking at, when we download a census, is a page from the Enumerator’s book. The far left column, then, lists the number of the original schedule filled in by the head of the household. These schedules are not available any more with the exception of the 1911, which is why you can get to see the handwriting of the person that filled it in!
Beware that ancestors can vary their names across census! My Great Aunt Winnie appears as Eveline Winnifred and Winnifred Eveline on different census. A middle name may make an appearance after the death of a mother and if someone was know by a pet name, like one of my grandmothers, then this may be put down instead of her actual name. One more thing, north of the border it was usual for Scottish widows to revert to their maiden names.
We all like to exaggerate a bit and so did our ancestors. A carpenter may become a Cabinet Maker or a merchant seaman a master mariner. Another thing to think about is where your ancestor had two or more jobs. Which went down on the schedule?
Place of Birth.
This could change depending on your ancestor actually knowing it. But also consider when a county changed its name or its boundaries moved, your ancestor’s place of birth has just changed.
If Deaf and Dumb; Blind, Lunatic, Imbecile or Feeble Minded.
Don’t fear the worst as this covers a variety of medical conditions with little option for degree of ailment. The options offered are a bit stark to the modern politically correct twenty-first century dweller.
As you scroll down the page you will notice someone has inserted two parallel lines next to the names of some people. What does this mean? This indicates where the next household starts. So between the first // and the second all those names are considered to be part of the same household.
So, the downloadable census collections are a great tool for the family historian, providing us with fantastic insight into our departed family, but the information has the ability to confuse as well as to inform.
Researching into our ancestry on the Internet is becoming one of the most popular pastimes in the 21st century with more people every day beginning family history research on-line. It wasn’t that very long ago that a person who wanted to trace their family tree, would need to make various visits to many libraries, record offices and the family history centres for the areas their forebears came from. Nowadays, except for the serious genealogist for whom this will still be an important part of family research, the amazing increase in genealogical websites with databases that we can search easily, has made it simple to carry out most of the slog researching our forbears from our computers. ranging from the average family historian, aiming to locate some difficult to find ancestor, to the professional genealogist carrying out a commission for a client, the data sets such as those provided at www ancestry.com or ancestry. co.uk and a whole lot of other websites have made thingsÂ easier and better for us. The sheer amount of data and other information that is already made available is being supplemented even as I write this with all sorts of new releases of old records and indexes. There are sites offering us access to the census collections, parish registersÂ and other church records, transcripts of tomb stones and other monumental plaques, BMD sites providing data on births, marriages and deaths, various family history societies, websites selling old maps, genealogical resources such as parish registers, old town or trade directories and so on.
In the United Kingdom the1841 census records data will be the earliest that will be encountered on-line. Today sets of census data are available to search on the web right up to the census of 1911. Census information can be found on a number of commercial sites, the majority of which necessitate an individual to pay-as-you-go, or simply to obtain a subscription of some kind. You will commonly have the ability to lookup transcripts and after that pay to view actual images, of enumerator’s books, for the different censuses undertaken every decade between 1841 and the 1901 census. Recently, the 1911 census for England and Wales went on line sooner than the normal one hundred years before release. This is under a Freedom of Information judgement, but the delicate data as to the mental state ofÂ individuals have been blacked out. The different feature of this collection is that, for the very first time that, we can view an image from the household’s return, not merely the enumerator’s book and thus can see our ancestor’s handwriting.
The provision of the various kinds of family history information, on the Internet, has encouraged an ever-growing number of individuals to make a foray into the arena of genealogy on-line resources. Most want to discover who their own forefathers had been and the things they did. A good number of folks have been prompted to start looking for themselves after the popularity of the BBC’s tv series called: Who do you think your are?
They might be motivated because of the many books about the topic, the different magazines on the newsagent’s racks as well as the genealogy and family history events, such as the annual show in Olympia and a host of others organised up and down the land all year round. But although some research will be effortless, a good few of our forebears are frustratingly tough to find and so frequently a beginner doesn’t know exactly where to turn.
You may still find some people, out there, whom merely do not know how to even take the first steps to undertaking their family research on a computer. You can also find others who, having made a beginning, do not know how to get past the inescapable brick wall that they have stumbled upon.
Brick walls can be aggravating, however when you discover a way to smash through the logjam it usually is immensely satisfying. I’ve discovered exactly how to do this, for a few of my forefathers, by taking e-courses in this fascinating area of interest. Just what I have observed is that the family historian must be made aware of the various tips and tricks to utilizing the internet resources to greatest effect. While the simple information can be acquired by using the straight forward search field on a website, to locate evasive ancestors may require a certain application. The good news is that somebody has most likely come up against the very same sort of problem as you are having and so a means of working around the difficulty may already have been devised. For example, I had been taught exactly how to make use of the freeBMD website to locate missing brothers and sisters of one of my grandmothers.
Many researchers may have used the LDS or Latter-day Saint’s familysearch.org site. Finding your ancestors, when using the search tools furnished by the website, can be challenging; even if they are included in the International Genealogical Index, and that is not always the case! The problem is that a search simply by last name only isn’t allowed, unless you search within a single batch of records at a time or over the entire country. A search of the whole of Britain is overwhelming, unless of course you have a rare name. What if, however, you are looking for a Smith or a Jones? I have discovered how to use a tool provided on a website to search the IGI batches and it is really easy to try and do, once you know how.
The world wide web has made researching ancestors a great deal easier to do. As more and more data finds its way onto the internet many more lines of research are opened to us. But, on the other hand, there is the danger of information overload. The new family historian could become frozen in the headlights as the data juggernaut races on towards them. My advice is to carefully record your research at each and every phase, so you are aware the blind alleys which you have gone down and the various people that you have researched erroneously, as well as the ones you have had success with. In the long run you will save yourself time and very possibly money on certificates purchased, or pay-as-you-go searches on the Internet. Next word of advice, is that it’s well worth continuing to learn as much as you are able to about this fascinating subject by taking classes or reading around the subject matter. The best family historian is one that thinks of themselves being an advanced beginner. That is, they are constantly wide open to learning more skills. The more skilled you become, the better you’ll be able to uncover those elusive ancestors!
Welcome to the new Help…blog!
When we set out to do Family history research for our Family Tree, very often it just seems that we have taken on a mammoth task. You may be feeling a mixture of frustration and elation in equal parts. Perhaps there seems to you that there are so many places to look and so many records to look at. Ancestors can be easy to find at first and then they just seem to disappear from view, or somehow hide away from you within the database because somebody has misplaced the record, or it has been damaged by fire, flood or eaten by mice. It could be that the record is wrong because the details were entered incorrectly.
I was once given some fantastic advice a few years back by a professional family historian. It is to
‘Tackle researching for your British ancestry by taking it in managable bites at a time.’
Perhaps the first tools to use are:
- Birth Certificates – as these provide you with parent’s names for ancestors
- Marriage Certificates – that will give you the father’s names for both parties
- Census records – which, as well as other information, furnish you with the birth places of ancestors and their ages
- Parish Registers – which will, with luck, supply a track for you to follow of baptisms, marriages and burials for your family.
If you want to learn how to find these documents in on line databases then you may want to look at my course
In truth, all of the above records should be used together so that you can corroborate the details. A census may give you a place of birth different from the actual place found on the Birth Certificate because your ancestor, for some reason best known to themselves, wanted to claim a different place of birth from the actual town. Ages in census may have been given wrongly for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that some did not really know!
It is vital to start your family tree research from the latest provable fact. This could be your parent’s details, your grandparent’s or perhaps your own birth certificate.