I am often asked by clients for advice on starting their Family History Research. And when I think back when I started my research, the best piece of advice I could have done with was;
Start When You Are Young(er)
The reason being that if you leave it until you are older, the people you need to speak to are often no longer with us.
I am lucky that both my parents are still alive at 82 and 84 years old. Also, I have a number of aunts and uncles that are still alive so I have been able to build a pretty good picture of the history of my grandparents. But going beyond that is difficult.
My paternal grandfather died before I was born and my paternal grandmother died in when I was 13. My maternal grandfather died when I was 2½ and my maternal grandmother died when I was 31.
While I might excuse myself due to my young age for not even knowing about genealogy and family history, I would have loved to sat down with my maternal grandmother and speak to her about her family history and her husbands family. It probably would have saved me a lot of heartache and a lot less burning the proverbial midnight oil if I have spoken to her. Also, it appears she threw away lots of old photos thinking who would ever want to see these again… ME, as it turns out !
However, starting when you are younger should come with a health warning, which would also have been useful information to be given to a novice genealogist.
It takes time… lots of time.
People think that so many records are online these days and yes, this is true, but a lot of records are not. It takes a lot of detective work to figure out who or what organisation might have information that they can share with you. And trying to pull everything together and trying to explain to your family who their great great grandparents were…. well, that’s another skill completely.
Clients often start their family history with great intent and full of gusto but often just run out of steam and hand it over to the likes of me to complete.
I provide a number of genealogy services from;
- Preliminary research using primary resources i.e. birth, marriage, death records
- More detailed research when people hit a brick wall
- Research when people need ‘boots on the ground’ e.g. checking out documents in the National Library or local archives, tracking down birth, marriage and records in the General Register Office or going to a cemetery to find graves / check headstones, meet or interview relatives.
It is very varied and very interesting. No two projects are the same.
If you would like me to work with you on your project, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can provide you with some more details.