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  #1  
Old 19-02-24, 10:15
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How did you find out how to research family history?

I started off with a very slim "how to" paperback and then the Gordon Honeycombe series. For many years I chaired a family history group and learned more than I needed on certain aspects!

Answering a question on Facebook, I was challenged on the fact that gaps usually exist in parish records around the Commonwealth period. The writer hadn't experienced any problems himself, so was not aware that there were any.

A new researcher probably doesn't use books or go on courses. Did you? Do you?
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Old 19-02-24, 15:03
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I watched the first series of Who Do You Think You Are? which had how-to extras after each episode, and bought the book.
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Old 19-02-24, 17:24
Olde Crone Olde Crone is offline
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When I left school, I worked in a library. I was sent to the reference library to learn how it worked and was curious about people borrowing church registers. I was chatting to a pleasant lady who told me she was researching her family history - boom! I was hooked. I hadn't known such a thing was possible.

Over the next 40 years I made very slow progress, went down many rabbit holes and up many trees which weren't mine, but met many helpful people on the way. The best advice I received was "genealogy is 90% LOOK, 10% LUCK" .

The internet changed everything of course and was the sole reason I bought a computer. It changed everything, not always for better, but I can now do in an evening what would have taken five years before. It feels a bit like cheating still.

OC
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Old 19-02-24, 20:56
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Many years ago, when I was a young teen, I asked my Mum and then my Dad what they knew about their ancestors and did a simple family tree on paper.

I got back into it when the census was released online and promptly crashed due to too many users. While online I discovered that the 1881 census transcript and lots of parish records were available free on Family Search. I joined Genes Reunited and asked questions there and met up with people at various London-based records offices/archives including the mind-blowing National Archives at Kew. I did get a few books but mainly I found trial, error and learning from others was the best way. Once I grasped the idea that transcripts are full of errors and got better at deciphering florid handwriting I moved forwards.

I have made a few wrong turns but am fairly sure that what I have now in my tree and my ex's is robust.

Of course so much more is available online, but nothing compares to the thrill, after toiling through lots of microfilm and spewing it all over the floor, of finding that elusive baptism/marriage/burial.
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Old 19-02-24, 21:37
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Margaret in Burton Margaret in Burton is offline
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We were on holiday in Scarborough and in a book shop when OH spotted a book titled ‘Research your family history’. He bought it, it wasn’t a reference book but something to fill in yourself. I warned him it wasn’t an easy task that would be completed quickly. I got books out of the library about researching your family history. This was pre internet. Worked back steadily applying for certs from various record offices around the country. Then I bought the 1881 census discs. OH then spotted an advert for Genes Reunited once we’d got online. I joined and it progressed from there. I well remember waiting for the 1891 census to be released on fiche at my local library, only for the local area of course and not indexed. We visited churches and graveyards around the country. My daughters were given a notepad and a pencil and told what names to look for. They were about 8 and 6.
OH used to do most of the record office work, write down all he could of a particular name and I’d work it out when he got home.

One interesting time he was delivering wines and spirits for Bass in Leicester and finished early, lorry empty. Asked his boss if he could park up and visit Leicester record office. He agreed as long as the lorry was safe.
He asked for the parish records for Exton in Rutland. They said, ‘oh that gentleman over there has them, if you take a seat next to him I expect he will share’. He did and the other chap asked what name he was looking for. OH said, ‘Newey’. This chap said, ‘but that’s my name, who are you?’.

Turned out he was my second cousin on my mother’s side. We spoke on the phone that night. We’ve kept in touch ever since, Christmas cards, but I’ve still not met him.
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Old 20-02-24, 01:24
Jenoco Jenoco is offline
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That's a nice story about your second cousin, Marg.

My mother-in-law was researching her family history and got me hooked. She gave me a book on genealogy and I got going. This was long before the internet and meant visits to records offices to search through the census and parish registers. My dad came with me sometimes. He was particularly interested because he knew very little about his mother's family and I remember he was with me when we found my great grandmother's birthplace on the 1881 census. He'd had no idea she'd come from Somerset.
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Old 20-02-24, 04:40
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One of my Dad's cousins had done a family tree for the family in Australia, and I was intrigued, but there were lots of gaps and a lack of dates. Once I realized the NSW BDM indexes were available for free, I started off checking her work. Once I had sorted out the 3 brothers and their sister who came to Australia, I want to trace them back in England. Back then in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I went off to the Local History Library used their IGI microfiche to follow up in England. And to the LDS library to stare at the England Census on microfilm and bought the 1881 census on CD rom (I still have it somewhere!)

After going back to work about 2008, visiting the various research centres was on the back-burner, but then Ancestry came along and I could do a lot from home. I still like to visit State Records and the State Library when I can.
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Old 20-02-24, 07:49
ElizabethHerts ElizabethHerts is online now
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My mother and grandmother always talked with great affection about deceased family members and my mother started her research when I was young. She joined various family history societies (e.g. Hampshire, Cornwall) and wrote numerous letters asking for information. I still have some of the copies and replies.

She also visited the Record Office in Exeter and also the Family Search Centre there. She had found some of the family on censuses. When she visited us she would go into London to visit the record offices and my elder daughter (then only about 11) and I started to accompany her. We became hooked and I started recording the family tree on my computer, using PAF (Personal Ancestral File). My mum gave me all the information she had and I started adding to it as censuses were released online. I remember trawling through microfiche with her trying to find errant family members before censuses were available online.

My mother died in 2004 and she would be amazed what I have discovered since. Her work was thorough and mainly accurate and she would be thrilled that we have now traced many lines back to the introduction of parish registers. My continuing research is in many ways a tribute and connection to her
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Old 20-02-24, 08:38
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I drew up trees on paper for my own family - in the 1970s for dad's tree and just after my gran died in 1985, for my mum's tree. I didn't really have any idea of progressing these trees at all or even that you could, so I just included what my immediate family knew.

In about 1989/90 OH and I took a holiday driving around the UK camping each night. One place we went to was Dundee. OH told me this was possibly where there was a connection for his grandfather, John Hamilton (yes, him!), as John's father was supposed to have been the harbourmaster at Dundee. So, we went to the reference library at Dundee and looked at trade directories which didn't help us at all!

In about 1990/1 we went to our local reference library where we found the microfiche for the 1881 census for Dorset and Hampshire. OH set about looking for part of his family with the 'help' of a rudimentary surname index. I spent my time putting the fiche into order! We also took one one and only visit to the Family Records Centre at Myddelton Street, London and I discovered I didn't know much about UK geography!

In 1995 we purchased CDs for the 1881 census and joined a couple of FH societies (New Forest and Huntingdonshire). We wrote letters to the FH societies and got amazing responses including lists of transcripts from PRs etc

In 1996 we first connected to the internet which led to discovering Family Search and Ancestry and then 1837online and FreeBMD in the following years. The internet wasn't something I wanted to know about at first, but OH sent some emails to Record Offices and tried looking things up on those sites. I soon learned I was better at online searches than him and so I was 'forced' online!

We started buying certificates in earnest in 1997. Also around this date we started adding our family members to a computer program, Brother's Keeper (which we still use!).

Our journey would probably have been quicker if we had bought a book about the subject, but I'm very happy about our slow progress really, and wouldn't want to be 'learning' now as it all seems like 'too much too soon'!

Quote:
I warned him it wasn’t an easy task that would be completed quickly.
LOL Marg! A big understatement there!!
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  #10  
Old 20-02-24, 08:48
ElizabethHerts ElizabethHerts is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merry View Post

Our journey would probably have been quicker if we had bought a book about the subject, but I'm very happy about our slow progress really, and wouldn't want to be 'learning' now as it all seems like 'too much too soon'!
I didn't buy one book or guide, but my mother purchased all sorts of literature on various subjects such as "My Ancestors were Quakers" (SOG), "Marriage laws, rites, records and customs", "The Victorian Workhouse", "The Victorian Cemetery", "Register Offices of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Great Britain and Northern Ireland" and "Probate Jurisdictions: Where to look for wills", to name just a few. She also bought books on places where our ancestors lived, so many for Hampshire and Cornwall. They are all mine now. Some still have her hand-written notes inside.

Last edited by ElizabethHerts; 20-02-24 at 11:35.
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