Sunday, 28 August 2011

Memories or Facts and Figures?

The more I visit the blogs and websites of other genealogists, the more it seems that we are split into family history sites that look into the flesh and bones of whom their ancestors were, collecting stories and memories, and those who simply wish to create a list of names, events and dates. On occasion, one side will criticise the other.

As for me, I feel that the two sides of genealogy can exist easily together, fleshing out the dates with realisation of what our ancestors lived through.

Today I wrote a piece on my writing blog about memories of Sunday morning from my father's point of view. You can read it here.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Important Date: 26th August and Other News

The Golden Text Book has been quiet for a couple of weeks but today we have two names entered, Amy Bracen and Marie Mixon. Neither of these surnames crop up in our family tree.

When I search on, I can find no Amy Bracen. There are several Mary Mixons in Yorkshire around the 1891 census entry. As boring as it sounds, I can only assume that these are friends of the family.

Other News

One of the benefits of building a family tree on a genealogy site such as Ancestry or Find My Past is the chance to meet other family history researchers. Comparing family trees and findings can be incredibly helpful in cross-checking information. A fellow researcher recently contacted me about the Boyds in my family tree and pointed out that I had wrongly identified the mother of one Boyd. I checked through my research and found that although I had the correct Jane May Boyd (1889 - 1948), I had wrongly identified her mother.

Who Do You Think You Are

I've been watching the new series of WDYTYA. I loved the first episode with June Brown. Having only known her as a character actor in Eastenders, it was fascinating to discover the real person and her family story. The J K Rowling episode was interesting but I couldn't really relate. Similarly, Seb Coe's story was fascinating but a world away from my own experience. Next week is another actor who has appeared in Eastenders, Larry Lamb.

Watching this and past series of WDYTYA has made me look at my family history research in a different light. It isn't just a list of dates and names. It isn't just a record to pass on to my children. My research is also a way to find out why I am who I am. My father's side were explorers, either by choice or need, moving around Scotland, to the US and taking my father from a small Scottish town to London. By contrast, my mother's side of the family seem to have always lived in the same area of Yorkshire as far back as I can trace. I'd like to know what gave one side of my tree it's travelling drive and the other such stability in one location.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Important Dates: 30th July - 7th August

July 30th

The name written in beautiful handwriting for this day is Minnie Ainley. What a wonderful, characterful name that is. We have many Ainleys in our family tree but I haven't found a Minnie so far. When I search on, I find an 1891 census for a Minnie Ainley, daughter of George and Mary Ainley, 4 years old, living in Headingley with Burley, Leeds. This is the same area that my Ainleys all lived in so I assume that Minnie was one of these.What substantiates this is that on the census, she has a sister called Florence. Florrie Ainley has previously cropped up in the Golden Text Book.

7th August

Written twice in different handwriting for this date is the name Richard Avison. Richard does not appear on my existing family tree. When I search on Ancestry, I can see several Richard Avisons for the 19th century in Yorkshire - Gomersal, York and Leeds. I assume he was a family friend.

TV Gems

I find that over the summer holiday, when my children oust me from my computer in the office, I settle with my laptop in the lounge. The temptation then of course is turn on the TV. One programme I've found myself watching on a morning is 'Heir Hunters'. This show follows probate detectives who try to track down the relatives (sometimes distant, sometimes immediate family) of people who have died without leaving a will. These detectives use many of the tasks we genealogists use to create a family tree and often build up a rich picture of the deceased individuals' lives. From eastern European royal families to bigamists and unknown half-sisters, Heir Hunters can provide some wonderfully interesting stories. Well worth a watch. You might even find you're an heir to a fortune.

On Wednesday, the new series of Who Do You Think You Are begins. I've always enjoyed watching this programme, sometimes out of interest in the celebrities featured but mainly because it can be very useful in showing how we can use the tools and resources featured to assist our own investigation. The first episode will be about June Brown, octogenarian actress of Eastender fame. Later episodes will include J K Rowling, Sebastian Coe and Larry Lamb.