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I can feel a research plan coming on

8 Jan

I am not quite sure why, but I am gravitating towards a full-blown research project on Henry SHORNDEN/WRIGHT, my 3x great-grandfather from Kent and Hampshire. I have written about Henry many times but there are still many unanswered questions. I feel it might be time to answer some of those questions.

It all started with me cancelling my plan (not that is was really anything more than an idea) to visit Carlisle, Cumbria in the next couple of months, because they haven’t finished re-building their record office yet. Carlisle can wait, what is more pressing is my need to use up the few days holiday that I still have left, before I lose them.

Instead of taking a trip to the other end of the country I hope to take several shorter trips that can be completed in a day, mainly to archives and libraries but also to a church and cemetery or two.

The key destination will be Alton, Hampshire because this was where Henry WRIGHT (as he was then) spent most of his life. As well as exploring the town further, visiting the church and cemetery I also want to take advantage of the family history resources at The Curtis Museum. I might also need to fit in a visit to the Hampshire Record Office in Winchester, Hampshire.

The other destination will be Kent, probably both of the archives in Maidstone and Canterbury, and maybe a visit to Ospringe where Henry SHORNDEN (as he was then) was born, although the latter is probably not quite so important.

Now I need to start putting together a proper research plan, check the availability of resources, check travel arrangements and decide what I actually want to find out. Before I go anywhere though I need to sit down and update my family history database with as much information as possible from the sources I already have at hand, namely Henry’s will and whatever else I can find online.

Expect to hear lots more about Henry and his family over the coming weeks …

My Genealogy Goals for 2010 – How did I do?

30 Dec

About this time last year I wrote a few blog posts about what I wanted to achieve in 2010 and as we are almost at the end of 2010 (and it is a bit late to do any more about it now) I thought I ought to face the music and see if I actually achieved anything I set out to do.

The first post was 2010 to do list – sort my photos and postcards in which I described my wish to get all my photos and postcards organised and integrated into my genealogy software Family Historian.

Pass or fail? Fail – my old photos are slightly more organised on my hard drive now and I now have a process in place for recording and scanning my postcards (but only as new ones arrive) but none of the photos or postcards have been added to Family Historian.

Next up was 2010 to do list – identify my photos and my desire to put some names to the many unidentified photos in my collection and if not names then at least some dates and places.

Pass or fail? Fail – I spent a couple of months looking at one photo, which I don’t think I ever wrote about and didn’t come to any real conclusions, and that was about it. If anything I have probably added more unidentified photos to my collection, although I did manage to discover the location of one postcard this year with the help of Google Street View.

Then was 2010 to do list – spring clean my database which described several goals that I wished to achieve when it came to my database. This was largely about tidying things up, checking for errors and filling in some missing details.

Pass or fail? Undecided – I am actually still working on this at the moment, progress is slow but I am getting there.

After that came 2010 to do list – what to do with wills? in which I described the problems I have with recording all the information that can be found in a will and how I intended to overcome this.

Pass or fail? Fail – Most of the wills I have in my collection have not been fully mined for data, usually I pick out the information that interests me (names of children) and then move on to something else.

With a little irony the next post was 2010 to do list – create a proper to-do list which described my plans to create a ‘super’ to-do list, which would record everything I wanted to do with my family history.

Pass or fail? Pass – I am still using a simple text file as my to-do list and to be honest I am finding this is perfectly adequate for my needs and so simple to use and update.

Then things got specific with 2010 to do list – some actual research goals which listed several of the individuals that I wanted to pursue in 2010, this was quite a mixed bag of relatives and ancestors, all of whom seem to have had an interesting story to tell.

Pass or fail? Fail – Although I did do some work on most of these individuals I never really followed any of these stories through to their conclusion.

Finally came My New Year’s Resolution itself, to start researching my wife’s Italian ancestry. Somewhat predictably this was a major fail. I did buy a book on researching Italian family history and a kit for learning some basic Italian, but these have sat on my shelf largely untouched all year, no progress whatsoever.

In 2011 I think I will keep things a little simpler and more achievable. Most of these goals from last year are still ones I would like to achieve in 2011, but above all I need to be realistic and recognise that I don’t have the time or money (but mostly time) to do everything I want to.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 52

26 Dec

Week 52 by my reckoning must mean we are at the end of the year. I think I will save my review of the year for next weekend, but this week I will have a look at how I failed to achieve any of the goals I set out at the beginning of the year, but try not to beat myself up too much about it!

I had hoped I could get down to some serious family history last week, but that didn’t really materialise. Like the week before, I did a lot of thinking about family history but never really got around to doing anything about it. I did get the death certificate for John FAIRS ordered and received it by the end of the week, but that was about the limit of my family history.

Much of my thinking has been around what I am doing next and in the future. At the moment my research is lacking focus, I am really only working on one project at the moment (the housekeeping of my database) and that is not particularly exciting at the moment. My to-do list is growing, but I am not getting chance to explore much further. I feel I should be digging deeper and making opportunities to do more research.

This week, as well as looking back, I need to decide what I am going to try to accomplish in 2011. One plan has already had to be set back because Carlisle Record Office is now due to open in April next year, not January. I think my plan will be to continue with my housekeeping and see where that leads, but try to schedule in at least one day a month to visit an archive and clear some items off my to-do list.

With a couple of days off this week I hope I can get some more research done, but in reality I ought to be spending a large proportion of that time sorting out other non-genealogy stuff, but I will see how it goes.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 29

18 Jul

Based on last week it is hard to see how I am going to get much family history done in the near future. My new job, or rather travelling to my new job, is taking up far too much of my time.

The only bit of family history I did was looking at the new Australian BMDs on Ancestry.com.au. I did find some useful information about the BATEMANs, but I didn’t even get that finished. Although I was supposed to have been reviewing my research last week, I didn’t even get around to that.

That was about the limit of my family history. I managed to watch the first episode of Victorian Pharmacy on the BBC (well worth watching), but I haven’t caught up with Susan Sarandon on WDYTYA? US yet (I think I have one day left to catch it on the iPlayer).

If I get chance this week I am going to finish off with the Australian BMD and the BATEMANs. Rather than review my research this week, I need to actually step back and review my daily routines. As I try and establish a new daily routine, I need to work out how I can include family history into that routine.

I am glad I bought a netbook last year, so I can take my research with me on the bus and train, but ultimately I think it means I have to be more organised and define my priorities, not just with my family history but within all aspects of my life.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 28

11 Jul

Family history took a bit of a back seat last week, I did do some work on the HEMSLEY family of Framfield, Sussex but my job hunt took priority. The end result was that I start full-time work again on Tuesday.

This changes things some what. I have become used to being pretty flexible about my research and to some extent my walking, being able to do pretty much what I wanted when nothing was happening with my job hunt.

I now need to re-think my family history plans. I won’t be able to get to the archives so frequently, and will have to balance visits to the archives with the desire to go walking. It is not a big deal really, it just means going back to how things were at the end of last year. It probably means that I will need to be a bit more organised and plan ahead more carefully for visits to the archives.

This week I am going to have a review of my research and the projects I have been working on, and see which ones I am going to be able to pursue from home and which are going to need to be put on hold for a while.

Personal Genealogy Update: Week 27

4 Jul

After the last few weeks I was beginning to wonder if I had lost my enthusiasm for family history, but I am pleased to say I have regained it at last. I feel like things have started moving in the right direction again.

It helped that I visited a couple of ancestral churches on my last section of the South Downs Way, but really I think it was down to forcing myself to actually sit down and do some research. I made progress on a couple of the projects that I had set myself last week, although I didn’t do any more on the Australian BATEMAN family.

Best of all I have a bundle of papers (mostly HEMSLEY marriages) that need sorting out, which should keep me busy for a couple of weeks, sorting out who is who and entering all the details into my database. I have also started a couple more projects, which was inevitable really, but I need to try not to get too bogged down, trying to juggle too many projects at the same time.

This week I am going make a start on that bundle of papers, and see where that leads me. Also I need to try and find out more about Arthur Leonard JESSOP, was there any connection with my grandfather?

I have been feeling the urge to write more about Sussex, the county I call home. For example, I have seen so many things on my recent walk along the South Downs Way that are worthy of more detailed descriptions. I don’t think I am going to be able to keep it genealogy related, so this may mean starting another blog. I really want to make a decision this week.

My genealogy to-do list for the week ahead (week 12)

21 Mar

Another week passed with very little actual research achieved and very little sorting and organising achieved either. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing any work, most of my time has been spent on planning and background reading.

I really need to get some sorting out this week, before I do any more serious research and make matters worse. My organising has slowed almost to a standstill, and I really need to get back into a routine again of systematically going through my files and folders.

I continue to be amazed at how many leads keep turning up in my GEERING research, I now have three certificates to process, which are presenting some interesting questions and answers. Hopefully this week will also see the arrival of the will of Ann GEERING.

  • Continue working through my digital files updating Family Historian and sorting out folders and standardising my filenames, especially the recently scanned documents.
  • Continue pulling together all my plans for researching the GEERING family of Hailsham, Sussex. The number of archives I need to visit is growing on a weekly basis, although it is probably going to be the East Sussex Record Office that will be the most important.
  • I have three GEERING certificates to process and two wills (and a possible third one arriving this week). There are a few other facts that I need to record as well.
  • I feel it is time that I put together a narrative or timeline for the GEERING family. This will hopefully help clarify my research plans and form the basis of a proper narrative which I hope will be the end result of my research.
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