Family Search and the Family Historian

I have been on my own family search quest for several years now. Some of the foremost websites that I have used in this time include the world famous familysearch.org, run by the Latter Day Saints and often referred to as LDS; Ancestry, operated by the Generations Network;  The Genealogist.co.uk;  Genes Reunited and   Findmypast.com. (Disclosure re these links: Compensated Affiliate.)

FamilySesarch, however, is one of the biggest genealogy organizations in the world and as such is an important on-line tool for any family historian. Countless millions of us will search the records, resources, and services of this website to learn more about our family history each year. For more than a century the people behind it have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide. Today, the users of the site are able to freely access the database, including the International Genealogical Index as well as church member contributed material, on-line at FamilySearch.org, or through over 4,500 family history centres in 70 countries.

The Internet resource is provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints whom you may be more familiar with as the Mormon Church. Their commitment to helping people make a connection with their ancestors comes from their belief that families are meant to be central to our lives and that family relationships are intended to continue into the after life. From this they therefore believe that all family members including those living, past, and those from the future, share an enduring bond which stretches across the generations.

Their website does not require you to share their beliefs at all, but is open to all of us to use what ever our creed, or culture is. It is a very useful resource for anyone engaged in the detective work involved in tracing one’s family tree.

The International Genealogical Index and Hugh Wallis.

Once you have keyed in your ancestor’s name into the search box you will be accessing a compilation of entries from baptism and marriage registers drawn from parishes and their equivalent from all over the world. Although it is a site run from the USA, for those of us with UK roots it still very relevant as it represents us well with index records. Some English counties in particular having excellent coverage.

The site, however, has certain issues in the way that you can search it. One of which is it is not always simple to find your ancestors even when they are there to be found in the IGI – which, of course, is not always the case. The reason why you may not find them is because to search by last name only is not permitted by the site’s search engine, unless you search within a single batch of records at a time or, across the entire country! You will probably understand that a search for a last name across the whole of England is a very tall order indeed. Remember it is not even a search of a single county, let alone a town that we are talking about here. If you have a rare name then perhaps it might be OK to do, but if you are looking for a Smith or a Jones then you are asking the impossible.

I have learnt that there is a way around this problem. It is to use a really handy website set up by an enthusiast to aid the family history researcher find their way around the FamilySearch site. What is more, it helps us know what registers are available on the IGI. The secret weapon to crack open the Family Search site is the website maintained by Hugh Wallis: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~hughwallis/IGIBatchNumbers.htm

The possible ranges he allows you to access are the Births/Christenings and Marriages for the British Isles, Canada and the USA. I really cannot recommend this tool highly enough to you. With it you may select a geographic location, see the churches and chapels for that area and then, by typing in the last name of your ancestor, it will use the search engine on FamilySearch to allow you to easily examine all the batches for that surname in the town or area that you are concentrating on.

Some Issues With the IGI.

Please remember, when doing your research, that the International Genealogical Index:

is incomplete – and this applies not only on a parish by parish basis, but to within parishes as well where gaps may also be found to confound you

– is compiled from several different types of record including information submitted by members of the LDS church supplying information that can sometimes be plain inaccurate and not having come from the original parish register

– has countless mistakes caused by problems associated with interpreting handwriting and also the previously noted member submitted entries

– does not, except for a few cases, cover burials;

– is only an index and so you really should not ever considered it to be a substitute for looking at the original record.

A short while ago, as I tried to get back a generation from where the census records on line had stopped in 1841, I found I was having to turn to the Parish Records. For my Scottish line I was able to use the easily accessed old parish records (OPR) on Scotlandspeople.gov.uk website, but for my English line the lack of scanned records meant the challenge of learning how to break into this area of family history research was a fascinating test for me.

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Chelsea Pensioners at findmypast.co.uk

Recently I’ve been researching my family tree using the resources of findmypast.co.uk more than ever. For any one serious about family history this site has a lot to offer. Their recent release in May 2010 of Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records 1873–1882, is a case in question.

It is possible for you to search 97,515 records for men that had been pensioned out of the British Army in between 1873 and 1882. They and FamilySerach are working in association with The National Archives in a partnership to provide us with these new records. The breakdown of the records data you can find on findmypast.co.uk, together with those which are still to come are the following:

Table taken form http://www.findmypast.co.uk/media/news/news-item.jsp?doc=CHEPmay.html

The point about these is that whilst many other military documents provide details about officer-class soldiers, these records refer to normal, non-officer class soldiers. This makes it more probable that you will be capable of finding details about your ancestors. The connection with ‘Chelsea Pensioners’ is the fact that the pensions had been administered through The Royal Hospital at Chelsea. Typically the large majority of pensioned soldiers were out-pensioners and did not reside at the Hospital itself.

Just what makes these records so special?

The records provide vibrant detail as well as colour to our ancestors’ lives to a level that is difficult to discover elsewhere. There are usually six or seven records per soldier, whilst a man might only get a single line within, for instance, a 19th century census record. Most of the service records note each of the regiments in which a soldier served, with both start and end dates, ranks attained, and the total service rendered, once again in years as well as days, in each rank and regiment. Service within either the East or West Indies will be noted separately.

The reason for the soldier’s discharge (sickness or injuries) is offered, as are remarks upon general conduct whilst in the service, and notations regarding height, complexion, eye as well as hair colour, and civilian occupation. The document is dated and signed by both the soldier and commanding officer. In the absence of pictures, these documents are an indispensable resource in furnishing a good insight into what your own forefathers actually might look like. These records are among the most popular at The National Archives as family historians and genealogists have awakened to the fact exactly how valuable they are. You’ll find much more information about these records in their knowledge base on the site.

The Chelsea Pensioner Service Records are made up of soldiers from all over the British Empire. Beneath is a percentage break down of where the servicemen were born:

England = 68.9%

Ireland = 17.6%

Scotland = 8.3%

Wales = 2.2%

West Indies = .6%

India = .4%

Sark = .00073%

Start searching for your Chelsea Pensioner ancestors now at findmypast.co.uk.

Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.

Source:

http://www.findmypast.co.uk/media/news/news-item.jsp?doc=CHEPmay.html

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The On-line Family History Researcher

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 things  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 registers  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 of  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!

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