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Starting Your Family History
By Glynn G. Burrows -
Owner of Norfolk Tours in England
Tracing your family history or genealogy has become one of the most popular pastimes
in the world over the last twenty years or so,
and has ranked highly in the top subjects searched for on the
web for several years.
Our fascination in finding out about our roots has grown, it seems, during a period
in history when more and more people are moving away from their birth-
Why are so many of us fascinated about people who died before we were born?
Why do we feel the need to visit the places they knew and even stand at their graveside? Why do we want to know where they lived and what they did for a living, what they ate and what they wore? Does it help us in today’s world?
Well, I’m not the best person to ask, as I have been researching my own family history seriously, since 1977 and before that, I was always the one listening to my Grandparents’ tales of days "in service" or on the farms. People that I have found in my family history researches are as real to me as people I meet in the supermarket or on the village Green, they are real people, with real lives and real stories. They made me what I am today, without all of them, I would not exist.
That is where we start our family history research, with ourselves.
Sit down with a large pad of lined paper & a pen and start writing down family details starting with what you know. Names, dates and places of birth. Details of marriages, deaths, burials and any other notes.
From your list of people, draw up a skeleton family tree, starting with the earliest
ancestor at the top -
Compiled by Grace Jackson.
Edmund Jackson Married 1963 Warham Mary Ann Foulger
Born 1933 Yarmouth Born 1944 Mintlyn
Died 1998 Stoneham Lives at 9 Low St. Stoneham
Children all born Stoneham
Mary John Frank Grace
bn1963 bn1965 bn1967 bn1969
m1981 Stoneham m1988 Repton d1968 m1993 Stoneham
John Gogg Mary Smith Bur Stoneham George Peterson
Children Children Children
Freddy Mary Gerald
bn1983 Stoneham bn1990 Repton bn1997 Forston
bn1986 Stoneham bn1995 Adelaide, Australia
Mary & John Jackson now live in Australia, last card was Christmas 2004 from Adelaide.
John & Mary Gogg now live at 23 High Street, Stoneham. Tel no 05645654338
With the above information, Grace would have enough to start her family tree research by taking these notes to her mother and asking her about her family and the family of Edmund Jackson. Most of us are able to get enough information to draw up a family tree that goes back to about 1900, simply from our own memory and the memories of our elderly relations. Don’t forget that Great Aunt Mary aged 92, your deceased Granny’s sister, is also the daughter of your Great Grandparents and could well take you back another couple of generations if she can remember her grandparents! Even people born in 1940 will probably remember conversations that they had with their grandparents who could have been born in 1880, the late nineteenth century. My Grandmother, who was born in 1908 gave me a glass plate photograph of her grandparents on their wedding day. That photograph was taken in 1862!
That takes me very nicely to my next source of information. Old photographs and papers, family Bibles, newspaper cuttings and certificates etc.
Most families have an old box with cuttings and bits and pieces in. When you visit a relation, always take your camera and always ask if they have any old papers, photographs, books etc that you could look at and copy. If there are an photographs, lay them on a sheet of paper and write the name of the person in the photograph on the paper so it can be seen beside the picture, take several pictures of the same photograph as you may not get another chance. Make a title page and start the collection with the title page, ie; Things in the collection of Aunt Mary Smith of 23 Forster Avenue, Springfield. June 6 2011. At the end of the collection, put the same title page on with a line through it to show it is the end of the collection. When you get home and download your pictures, you can easily put them into albums without confusion.
So where do we go from here? What about checking the information that has come simply from memory and we all know how unreliable our memories are! That, as they say, is another story!
Glynn Burrows is the owner of Norfolk Tours in England -