I am often asked how I got started in researching Family Histories. My immediate answers are not the ones people expect.
Let’s go back to 1987. My eldest son was born. My head was full of questions regarding what the future may hold for him, and then they turned to: what were his roots? I couldn’t let this thought go and over the next few weeks, it started to grow. I always had an interest in history, and my family were important to me. So, the step into actual research was very natural for me. I started asking lots of questions of my family, which is the best first step for anyone researching their tree. When I am asked to research someone’s tree I first ask: “What do you or any of your living family members know?” Typically, the client will have a lot more information than they first realized. Grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins are the best place to start, then I can begin to check for evidence.
The search, for me, is everything. I still get a buzz when I can confirm a hunch. Or discover a new trail I need to go down. If that means learning a new piece of history, or about a new part of the country, all the better. Then there is the keeping on top of all the new finding aids, whether available online or not. So, it’s a continual learning experience. Some of you will know I am keen on quizzing, and it’s amazing how much I learn doing research eventually crops up in a quiz!
I have now been running Ichthus this time round for 8 months. It’s been a roller coaster. I have traced a missing grandparent to Australia, and united 2 families who didn’t know about each other. I’ve researched Romany families. I have researched Jewish roots. I have learnt a lot about name changes. I have followed a family through different parts of Oxford. I have traced three separate Davies families in Glamorgan & Breconshire. I have researched the British Army in Jamaica. I have also learned how to start researching in the Caribbean. I obtained the necessary paperwork for someone to claim an Irish passport. And I discovered that a proud Welshman had an English mother. Consternation in his family! So, quite a selection that shows how varied our ancestors are! We are not a homogenous society; we have different sides and roots.
And we all have different stories; No two families are the same. And each new life creates yet another story. As time goes by, the stories become tangled. The truth becomes distorted. And that’s what I enjoy. Finding out what really happened. In my mother’s family, the story was that we were of Spanish origin. In my research I have not yet found any truth in this. However, I have had a DNA test, and it shows I do have some Spanish roots. I also have roots in most of the rest of Europe! So the search goes on, and I look forward to finding the kernel that started the family story!
Would you like me to do the same for you? Who knows what you will find out!