Who were your ancestors?
Who were your ancestors?
Putting flesh on the bones
You have your list of ancestors all displayed on a nice family tree. You have their births, deaths and marriages recorded and you know where they lived. But what now? Do you really understand them or know anymore about the world they inhabited. It's time to put some flesh on your ancestors bones and get to know them a bit better. It can be a fascinating journey of discovery in which your ancestors can answer many questions for you, like who you get your artistic talent from or why your children find it easy to learn music. It is surprising how ancestors can influence the family even today. So I've put together some tips and information on useful web sites that might just help you to know your ancestors a bit better.
Check old maps
Some of the best sites for research
- EdinPhoto Home Page - The History of Photography in Edinburgh by Peter Stubbs. This site records my
History of Photography in Edinburgh, Photographic Societies, Amateur Photographers, Professional Photographers, Photography, Daguerreotype, Calotype, Cartes de Visite,Edinburgh,Scotland,19th and 20th century.
- History of Headington, Oxford
- Black Country Genealogy & Family History
Another excellent site. Well laid out and full of information Did an ancestor of yours belong to a brass band? Then you might find them here
- Railway Workers
Photographs of railway workers going about their business at Winteringham If only all family history sites were as good as this. If you are lucky enough to have a relative from Winteringham then you are so blessed
Check dates on tomb stones
Queen Victoria visits Sheffield
- Moving History
Moving History - A research guide to the United Kingdom's twelve public sector moving image archives and their collections
The Journey begins
The first place to start your journey is the parish or town they lived in. There are lots of family tree sites that have information about the relevant parish or town. Simply type in the area name followed by either genealogy or family tree. There are some very good resources out there it's just a question of patience. If you have exhausted this way of tracing your ancestors then you could buy a data CD from one of the many genealogy suppliers out there. Don't forget to try E-Bay, there are many a bargain to have.
However the best way to get to know your ancestors is to leave the computer for a while and to visit the place they lived. Take with you a note book and a camera and set forth into the past. When you arrive walk the area noting down the names of the churches, pubs and street names. Now I don't advocate drinking, but you may find that a drink and a chat with the people in the public houses give forth valuable information.Very often the locals have regional names for specific areas, so taking notes on this can help your research later. So you may just have suffer alcohol this once. Moving on take photos of old buildings from your relatives era, noting any worn out house names. A trip to the churchyard to take photos of tomb stones with your ancestors surname is worth doing. You can research these later. I have found two previously unknown relatives this way and readjusted several dates that have been recorded wrongly in records. If there is a museum or library in the village or town you are in, then go and look around. There could be information on groups or societies that were thriving at your ancestors time. Study photographs, a group of people with their racing pigeons , might be enough for you to research your relatives hobby. The clues are there if you look closely enough, brass bands, gardening club, and Co-op societies, take down names and dates in your trusty note book. Some museums have research rooms, you won't know if you don't ask. Look at the big events recorded from the past. Did Queen Victoria visit? A lot of places formed committees for events like this, so see if your ancestors were involved. If someone in your family tree had any standing in the area there may even be a photograph of them, or their name mentioned in committee minutes and agendas, so look and ask.
- Historical Directories
Digital collection of eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth-century local and trade directories from England and Wales
- ParishRegister.com - Search Parish Registers Online
Family history website for those tracing their Docklands, Thames and Watermen and Lightermen ancestors. At the moment only baptisms are transcribed, but deaths and marriages will follow
- Co-operative Societies | The Co-operative College
The Co-operative College is non-traditional college which works from its home in Manchester with learners and co-operatives all over the world, from schoolchildren to African worker co-operatives.
School log book
Even if you don't have an ancestor in High littleton, this school log book gives us a good insight into the life and times of Victorian school life. Also it can be quite funny
What to do next
Once you have gathered your information, come back to your computer and begin to search. The church is a good place to start. Many genealogists have transcribed church records for us all to share. A big thank you to these people, without them our research wouldn't get very far. There also might be transcriptions from old parish magazines, like the one I found that gave me a better insight into the character of my great grandfather. 'Silas drank more than was good for him. On one occasion he was found asleep in the Churchyard;when someone roused him with "Wake up,Silas", he replied "Let I bide! Wake some o'they t'other up,They bin 'ere longer than l!" Oh well not exactly Shakespeare, but it certainly says something about his character. Another good source of material is the local school, many of them have records on-line like the school my ancestors went to, where I found this gem. "16th Cha’s JONES asked to leave School at 31/2 p.m.; he said he was wanted at home to rock the baby while his mother was baking.'
Another thing worth doing is checking when the next Family history Fair will be visiting the area that your ancestors lived in. There is always local experts on hand and CDs and books to buy that relate to that area. These fair are brilliant, I hope you get the opportunity to attend one.
So I hope now you have read this that you feel inspired to dig deeper and try some different avenues of research. Please leave any advice you have in the comment boxes below and together we can all enjoy this journey.