For most family historians with English ancestors at some point you will have to visit at least one County Record Office. So here are few tips if it will be your first time.
Plan your visit
Where is the record office?
This will be listed on the relevant county council web site. Remember county boundaries have changed over the centuries so you may need to confirm with a site like Genuki as to which record office you need. Some counties like Cumbria have more than one record office.
What records does the record office have?
There is no point travelling to the record office if it doesn’t have the records you need. This may include census records, parish registers, newspapers or other historical documents. Some of these may need to be requested in advance so check on the web site or telephone ahead.
The office may not be open 9-5 six days a week. This information should be on the web site too. It may be that you have to leave the building at lunch time if it closes. It may also be necessary to make an appointment if there is restricted space.
What should I take?
To join the County record office network (CARN) you need to bring along ID such as passport or driving licence. Once you have a card it makes access to all similar archives so much simpler.
Take a printout of the part of the family tree you are interested in for that visit. You may be able to take a laptop but check first. Have a list of what you are hoping to achieve – this may help you stop getting side tracked.
You will be restricted on using pencils in the research rooms. Take more than one and a good notebook to write down your discoveries. If you want printouts of what you find then you will need some cash to pay. Anything else will probably have to be left in a locker and mobiles set to silent/turned off.
In the record office
Don’t be afraid to ask
If it’s your first visit then ask the archivist for help on finding what you need to save time. They will also show you how to use micro film readers and point out the rules of use.
Start with your initial target and work your way through the records just looking at them. If anything else catches your eye note where you find it and come back later. Write down the source references so that you can double check at a later date if necessary.
Above all enjoy the records and finding out more about your ancestors.
A week tomorrow (4th February) is the UK’s National Libraries day. As you may have seen this blog is very pro libraries so I thought I would share this with you.
This is what the organisers have to say about this inaugural event:
National Libraries Day is devoted to all types of libraries, library users, staff and supporters across the UK. Join in by organising a celebratory event, contributing to our forums, tweeting with the #NLD12 hashtag and visiting your local library on the 4 February or the week leading up to it. How will you get involved?
So what can you do to get involved? If you are a library user check out this map to see if something is already happening at your local library. Their other suggestions include:
- Make connections: Get in touch with your local library and find out what they are doing for NLD12. If they have nothing planned, why not talk to them about arranging a celebration, party, author event or read-in?
- Share the love! Introduce a colleague, friend or family member to the library that you love, get them to join and show them why it is so great!
- Spread the word about why we should all love our libraries. Why not tweet #NLD12 ‘I love my library because…’, ‘like’ NLD12 on our Facebook page or upload a fun picture of you & your library to Flickr.
- Feeling creative? Why not make a video, animation or song celebrating libraries, librarians and what they mean to you. Post them on YouTube and watch/comment on other people’s efforts!
- Branch out! If you usually borrow a book, why not access the Internet instead. If you’re always online why not borrow a book? Take a look around and see what other exciting services your library has to offer.
- Ask! Make NLD12 the day that you put that question’s you’ve always meant to ask to your local library staff! Tell them the subjects you’re interested in and see what they suggest – you might be surprised!
They also have some suggestions for the library staff too as its not too late to join in:
- Encourage people to use your library and find out about all the services you offer. If you’re a public library, why not run ‘mini taster sessions’ of the services you provide throughout the week?
- If you’re a university or commercial library why not go ‘open access’ for the day and show people what you do? You could even invite the decision makers in your organisation to the library for a personal tour?
- Persuade people to ‘come in from the cold’ on Saturday 4th February by offering warming drinks and cake/biscuits in your library building. Once they are in you can tell them about all the great services you provide.
- Library Treasures: organise a ‘treasure hunt’ by hiding clues around your library – the first one to solve the final clue wins a prize.
- Give a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of your organisation – show your library users all those areas of the library that you normally keep to yourself.
- Put on a special event that gets people through the door – an author talk, a creative session with an illustrator, a party?
- Run a membership campaign in the week running up to NLD12. Hand out flyers in your local pubs, community and shopping centres. You could even enter everyone who joins that week into a prize drawer.
- Anticipate the day by asking users to write on a piece of paper or post-it note why they love their library or librarian and then create a display. If you have old photographs of your library, make a mini exhibition to act as a talking point and provoke nostalgic reminiscences.
- If you’re running an event make sure you contact the local press and invite them along. Think about setting up a photo opportunity.
- Does a local celebrity support your library? Why not get them involved, set up a signing, photo opportunity or talk/reading. Get them to tweet why your library is the best of the rest!
- Contact your local MP and invite them to the library, perhaps they could run their surgery session in the library that week?
- Do you have a Women’s Institute near to you? Are they interested in getting involved? Why not ask them what they’d like to do?
If you would like to help raise money for the campaign then The Literary Gift Company are donating 50p from the sale of each of their special library items.
So make sure you do something and help save our libraries by showing how much we love them!
As far as this site is concerned here are my plans for 2012:
- Post at least once a week
- Add more about my personal family tree to break down barriers
- Provide more assistance to others in their family history and IT journey
What are your Family History plans for 2012
When you start recording your ancestors occupations from census and BMD certificates it can be interesting to analyse them. Sometimes there may have been a tradition of staying in same job as a parent. In others you can see how your ancestors were effected by changes such as the Industrial Revolution and they may have moved around as they sought work. It may also be that their job contributed to their death through industrial related illnesses or accidents. One of my great, great grandfathers William NASH served as a steward for P&O cruises and died of cholera in Bombay in 1877.
In one branch of my father’s family all the men for several generations (ROBERTS/JONES) were working in the north Welsh slate mines. My great grandfather Owen Evan JONES broke this tradition when he became a teacher having been the first in the family to learn English at school. For this crime he was disowned by his family and spent the rest of his life in Lancashire.
I have traced my paternal grandmother’s BAND ancestors as they moved into Mottram in Longdendale in Cheshire as cotton weavers and then to Glossop to work in the mills there. Most of the families I am descended from in the Glossop and Hayfield areas (TURNER/REDFERN) were heavily involved in the cotton mills. There were also some stone masons (DOWNS) and my great, great grandfather Charles Downs BAND helped to build Johannesburg post office and died out in South Africa.
My mother’s maternal line (BRADING/VANNER) were mostly from the Isle of Wight. A large proportion of these before the mid 19th century were agricultural labourers or stone masons. Once Queen Victoria popularised tourism to the island there was a move to owning pubs, hotels and even a coach service. There were also some fishermen and a few butchers.
Her paternal line were quite an entrepreneurial bunch. The LINFORD family seem to have been involved in clock making and butchers in Vauxhall, London. John Thomas LINFORD moved to Canterbury and joined his father-in-law (William WEEKS) as a chemist and druggist. One son took over the business and other Henry Albert LINFORD ran the South Western Railway hotel in Southampton – later this was the hotel in which the first class passengers on the Titanic spent their last night in England!
There isn’t a great history of military service in my family except for during the 2 World Wars. I have a few cousins listed as killed in action in those conflicts. Luckily my direct male ancestors were never sent to the front line due to age or medical impairments. My great, great uncle Alex BRADING served as a trooper in the Sudan in 1898 at the relief of Khartoum. He survived this campaign and later re-enlisted in Australia during the first world war.
Go and have a look at what your ancestors did for a living. You may find out some fascinating things!
Posted in Family History
Tagged Brading, family history, family tree, glossop, hayfield, Isle of Wight, khartoum, linford, occupations, records, vanner
This week’s geneabloggers prompt is books, these prompts are a great way to make family history personal and record information for your descendants. The full prompt is:
What was your favorite book, or who was your favorite author from your childhood? What do you like to read now? Books or other formats?
I am a real book addict and have been for as long as I can remember! I was a voracious reader as a child and was often told off for reading long after lights out at home. A child of the 1970s the authors and books I loved the most as a child definitely date me to this period:
- Enid Blyton: Famous Five and Secret Seven books
- Arthur Ransome: Swallows and Amazons
- JRR Tolkein: The Hobbit (and later Lord of the Rings)
- CS Lewis: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe et al
As an adult I still enjoy some of these (though maybe not Enid Blyton!) but I’ve got a real love of historical fiction with my favourite authors including:
- Bernard Cornwell (Sharpe and others)
- Dorothy Dunnett (Game of Kings series and House of Niccolo)
- Wilbur Smith
- CJ Sansome
- Simon Scarrow
- Conn Iggulden
- Phillipa Gregory
- Elizabeth Chadwick
I also enjoy crime, mystery and fantasy novels such as:
- Colin Dexter’s Morse
- Christopher Paolini (Eragon etc.)
- Terry Pratchett’s Discworld etc.
- Kate Mosse
So it’s quite a varied list of authors and books but definitely within the main genres of history, fantasy and crime or maybe a mix of 2 or more! So what books are you fondest of now or in your childhood?
I have set myself a challenge of reading 100 books this year to get back to one of my first loves. You can see the progress here
It’s not just people and places that make history interesting. Look around you and see the street furniture or features that existed when your ancestors lived:
You can then compare with modern equivalents:
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The official wedding photograph of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is a great example of the treasure trove these photographs can be. The various relatives and their relationships to each other (or not) can help fill in gaps on family trees.
Not all family trees are as well documented as the Royal Family’s but it’s great to have such a happy family moment recorded for posterity however famous the family is.
Just remember to write names alongside your photographs and include them in your family tree to bring them all to life.
Take a wander around your local church yard or cemetery and you may be amazed at what a genealogical treasure trove the gravestones and plaques can be. I snapped this one whilst walking back from Staveley Recreation Ground today:
It is up against the side of St Margaret’s Tower which is all that is left of the original church. The information given on it is well above that on most gravestones:
Name of deceased: Edmund Thompson
Residence: Brow, Over Staveley
Date of death: February 8th 1847
Age: 83 Years
His widow: Esther Thompson
Her death date: November 30th 1851
Age: 87 Years
Their 2nd son: Edmund Thompson
His place of death: Brow
Date of death September 9th 1854
Age: 64 Years
Their grandson and 8th son of Edmund: Nathan Thompson
Residence: Troutbeck Park
Place of Death: Sunny Brow
Date of Death: April 16th 1864
Interred (Buried) at: Ings on 21st April 1864
I am actually feeling inspired to find out more about this family and where they lived from the information given. Watch this space to see what I can find.