My Past Remains in Me
Today it is nearing the end of Winter here in North East Victoria, Australia – perfect time to be looking ahead and waiting for the Spring. I know that the world is a very different place under the influence of pandemics, lockdowns, climate change and politicial and economic unrest. However, here in my world, in my small corner of the planet, the sun is shining and there are new buds on the trees outside my house. I can afford to be optimistic as I am safe and well; in stark comparison with the lives of others across the globe. My thoughts return to the past, as they always do; and I reflect on how the past remains within me.
My searching for ancestors has taken me into the world’s history dating back to the 1600s; and more importantly into the lives of my forbears in England and Wales, United Kingdom. Their lives have played out on very different stages to mine – and yet I am connected to them and influenced by what they have learned and achieved in their lifetimes. I am a genealogist, inspired by the work of my great uncle, who believed that we were true heirs to an Estate in London. His story lives on in me as I continue to search for the vital records in my Paternal clan; not necessarily to make the same claim to this fortune – that would be foolish – but to record the comings and goings of our clan, for future generations.
In my 8th decade I am rewiring and reinventing myself – keen to become a published author – many hours of my day are spent at my computer – writing my way to a new normal for me. As I write I draw on the knowledge that has been handed down to me through the generations – from a family of entrepreneurs, tradespeople and knowing people – there is something of each of them in me. My pursuit of ancestral records to prove my lineage is just one half of what I do – the other half is spent in writing their stories to share with others. Resilience in the face of challenges and tragedies in my grandmothers’ lives have shaped the way I view the world – they give me the strength to endure. In overcoming their grief at the loss of husbands and children and continuing to nurture the rest of their offspring, they leave a legacy for me.
The stories I write – of my ancestors – are coloured with my perspective of their world, during the famine and pandemics of the 1800s; during the Boer War of the late 1890s, the two World Wars of the early 1900s and the recovery years of the 1950s. The stories include their strength of character in building a new enterprise in the Tailoring and Building industries and eventually making a new start in a new country, by emigrating to Australia. My Dad was a pioneer for our family and he was not afraid to take a risk – bringing us all to the land of sunshine and oranges in 1949. He travelled alone in 1948 to establish a business and to purchase a home for his family. I know I have his strength of purpose in me; and I know I have inherited the fear of the unknown that my Mum showed in these adventures, too. I am a mix of these two! They remained together for over 60 years – and that is now my aim too.
But what does all this have to do with Organising my Genealogy Research?
The best way to organise your Genealogy Research is to have a searching strategy and stick to it.
I am now focussing my research by locating the ‘right place’ to find the answers to my questions. Repeating my search in Ancestry or Find My Past, for example, with the same approach each time will not reveal different answers. As I search for my clan I make better use of the specific parish registers in the English counties they live in. eg Essex Archives is a brilliant repository – accessible from Ancestry. eg British Newspapers are excellent collections of articles – accessible from Find My Past.
Be methodical and record the results of your research.
The best way to record your genealogy research is having a recording strategy and stick to it.
My recent rediscovery of Evernote for collating my research results has enabled me to develop a new strategy that I can easily replicate and stick to, each time I am researching my ancestors or details of others’ ancestors. Since then I have researched to find other methods that are in use by other Genealogists and happily recommend those to beginner Family Historians.
The best way to increase your skills as a genealogist is to have a learning strategy and stick to it.
I am inspired by the learning I acquire from the plethora of free Family History lessons found online, and I continue to pick up hints and new ideas along the way. Genealogy is a life long pursuit for many people. There is something intrinsically satisfying in learning a new technique for locating BDM vital records – hidden from your view. Or the revelation of new stories from facts listed on old Census Returns. One of my ancestors was listed at a residence called Frog House – that has me intrigued. eg. Searching for house details using Google was something I learned recently.
Seeking a new way to find military records, led me to a few video tutorials available on YouTube. I discovered vital information that enabled me to not be daunted by the fact that many records of WW2 are not digitally available. eg Locating WW2 soldier service numbers and records from dedicated WW2 forums was another piece of timely learning for me this month.
Be flexible and visit a wide range of resources, forums and tutorials on the Internet.
The best way to preserve your ancestral stories is to have storytelling strategy and stick to it.
My ancestors made me who I am today – their history lives on in me. They were not celebrities or royalty, they were solid citizens with a trade and a purpose in life; and they survived obstacles that life had put in their way; they capably brought up their families in England and Wales in different times with different cultures – and I thank them for their resilience. Digging deeper into the stories revealed through my genealogy research will ensure that they are not forgotten. My descendents will get to know their ancestors through the stories I share in blogs! My ancestors will have a voice and provide an inspiration or a warning for their descendents.
My next major project will be to combine my family history stories into a book I can leave as a legacy for my family.
Be consistent and keep looking for the stories to share in your blogs and family history books.
Want to make a start on researching your family tree?
How to Organise your Genealogy Research is a timely course for those who are just beginning or those who need to refresh their knowledge and skills in this fascinating pursuit.
Find out more about the course here in the site.