Tag Archives: bbc

I am a Web Hedgehog

15 Mar

Just for a bit of fun I took the Web Behaviour Test on the BBC website (part of The Virtual Revolution series). You have to register with the site and it takes about 20 minutes to answer all the questions and complete the games.

The web behaviour test looks at three different aspects of your web usage:

  • Adaptable or specialised?
  • Fast-moving or slow-moving?
  • Social or solitary?

and compares this to eight different types of animal:

  • Bear
  • Elephant
  • Fox
  • Hedgehog
  • Leopard
  • Elk
  • Octopus
  • Ostrich

Based on my answers and performance in the games I am a web hedgehog, and I would have to say that I agree with that analysis. The three traits which make me a hedgehog are:

1) Slow-moving"careful internet users, taking their time to find the right information." 

Essential for family history research I would think. You need to take your time to assess the information that you find, rather than just accept the first answer you come up with.

2) Solitary"prefer to go it alone, rarely relying on information on social networks or other sites whose content is created by its users." 

A controversial one this, it is accurate in that I very rarely use information from online family trees and I don’t tweet or have a Facebook account, but I would imagine that I am probably in a minority among online genealogists.

3) Specialised"best suited to concentrating on one thing at a time rather than attempting to multitask."

Very much related to the first trait, taking the time to focus on one thing at a time, rather than trying to do lots of things at the same time. I don’t know about you, but when I am online I like to give my family history (or anything else for that matter) my full attention.

If you take the test let me know in the comments what sort of web animal you are? You can even publicise your animal type on Facebook, unless of course you are a solitary animal like me without a Facebook account!

Holiday at the Victorian Farm

17 Dec

Karen over at Twigs to Roots posted about the Christmas specials of the BBC programme Victorian Farm (entitled unsurprisingly Victorian Farm Christmas).

I commented that I would like to go and have a look at the farm where it was filmed because it is a historic working farm, so I thought I would have a look on the internet and see if I could find out more.

As well as an interesting website about the Acton Scott Estate and the historic working farm, I also discovered that the cottage (Henley Cottage) where much of the series was filmed can now be rented as a holiday cottage.

The unusual twist is that Henley Cottage has been restored as a 19th century farm labourers cottage. Water must be pumped from the well by hand, the place is lit by candles and oil lamps and cooking is done on an old fashioned kitchen range.

The only concession to modern comfort appears to be the converted outside toilet which hides a modern bathroom with a hot shower and toilet.

To me this sounds like a fascinating chance to experience a small taste of how the majority of my ancestors lived, although without the hard work that being an agricultural labourer entailed, I am not sure it would be completely realistic.

I would feel a bit of a fraud, turning up in modern clothes, probably by modern transport, but I still think it would  be a great experience. My wife on the other hand was not convinced that this would be such an ideal way of spending the week!

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine – Autumn 2009 cover CD

13 Sep

I have many magazine CDs hidden away in draws and boxes, most of the time these free CDs mounted on the front of magazines are of little interest to me, but knowing they might be someday I usually keep them safe just in case. However, the CD on the latest edition of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine (the Autumn 2009 edition) is packed with some really interesting stuff.

For starters, there are three pieces of unseen footage from the David Mitchell episode from the latest series of Who Do You Think You Are? The first two are quite long, and concern the Highland Clearances, the first addressing how the Mitchell family were affected and the second concerning the fate of those who were evicted from the land. The third and shortest segment features David Mitchell explaining why he wasn’t emotionally affected by the stories of his ancestors.

Continuing the Scottish theme, there is a link on the CD which provides free access to the 1901 Scottish Census transcriptions on Ancestry.co.uk. The link is only valid for a limited time (until the 10th October 2009) so you will need to be quick.

Most useful for my research is the inclusion on the CD of Kelly’s 1915 Directory of Hampshire & Isle of Wight. To my knowledge this is not available on Ancestry.co.uk or Historical Directories, so this is a real bonus for me. I haven’t had a thorough search yet, but I am sure I will find some of my own MITCHELL family (and WRIGHT family) within it’s pages.

Also on the CD is a wonderful selection of images from the collections of the Hampshire Record Office, the Isle of Wight Record Office and The Royal Green Jackets Museum. I particularly liked the fantastic detail on the photo of High Street, Southampton. As well as photos the images include examples of documents held buy the three repositories as well.

There is also a selection of links to some of the best websites for Hampshire family history, including the wonderful Ann’s Page, the work of Ann Barrett, which is a treasure trove of Isle of Wight information. Well worth a look if you have ancestors from the island.

BBC Radio 4 – Tracing Your Roots (Myths and Truths)

9 Sep

The latest edition of Tracing Your Roots from BBC Radio 4 (available via podcast for a limited time) was about family myths and legends. There were four very brief examples, with a short discussion on how each of the stories could be proved or disproved.

This got me thinking about my own family myths and legends and the fact that I don’t appear to have any in my family tree.

I have tried to remember if I was ever told any stories as a child or whether there was anything I wanted to try and prove when I started my research, but I don’t think there ever was. No criminals amongst my ancestors, no stories of relations moving to far off lands and making their fortune, no missing millions waiting to be discovered and I didn’t think I might have been descended from the illegitimate child of some distant King or Queen.

Plenty of mysteries and puzzles have turned up since I started researching, like why did my grandfather end up at school in London, but nothing actually from the start that I wanted to prove or made me start researching my family tree.

I suppose there is only one myth that I had and that was one that I created soon after I started researching. I rather foolishly believed that my ancestors and relations were not very interesting and never did anything unusual. How wrong could I be!

Was there a particular family story that you wanted to prove that got you started in family history research, or was it just general curiosity?

English genealogy news catch up

7 Sep

Whilst I have been busy sorting, scanning and filing there have been a few announcements in the English genealogy world that I need to catch up on.

Findmypast.com have added 1.25 million high resolution images from the 1881 census to their site, to go with the previously available transcriptions (the transcriptions are free to search).

Familyrelatives.com have added details of 120,000 pupils and masters from UK Public Schools, some dating back to 1500. I doubt whether I am going to find any of my ancestors in any of these institutions.

Ancestry.co.uk have published records of over 100,000 British and Commonwealth Prisoners of War held by the Germans during the Second World War, as well as the UK Army Roll of Honour 1939-1945 which features details of British Army personnel killed in action.

192.com have updated 380,000 Electoral Roll records. Now don’t get too excited, these are from the 2009 Electoral Roll and the main focus of this is current information, although they do have some historical data. There is a lot of information on this site, some of which is free, but it is probably the best place to start looking if you are trying to trace a living relation in the UK.

The Autumn 2009 edition of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine has on it’s cover disc two items connected with the David Mitchell episode of the series. Firstly there is some unseen footage from the episode (I haven’t watched it yet, but will let you know what it’s like) and secondly there is a deal with Ancestry.co.uk providing free access to the 1901 Scottish census (for a limited time only).

BBC Radio 4 – Tracing Your Roots – Wartime Losses (available via podcast)

3 Sep

Just when my mp3 player was starting to gather dust from the lack of genealogy podcasts, along comes the latest series of Tracing Your Roots on BBC Radio 4. The good news is that the show is available as a podcast from the BBC website (for a limited time).

This first episode is entitled Wartime Losses, and picks up on the Second World War anniversary theme. The programme synopsis gives brief details of the three case studies featured, all people trying to find out more about their fathers.

There is some really useful advice in this programme (links are provided in the synopsis) for people in a similar situation, trying to trace a parent who had been “lost” after or during the war. Two of the cases prove that there can be a happy ending, but it is still by no means an easy task, but there are now several organisations who may be able to help.

Who Do You Think You Are? Series seven round up

22 Aug

The seventh series provided quite a diverse mix of research subject and geographic areas. Interestingly this series doesn’t seem to have gone back as far some previous series, concentrating on more recent ancestors. Perhaps this goes some way to show people that you don’t have to go back a long way to find interesting people and stories.

Here is a quick run down of the people and subjects covered. If you are quick they can still be watched over on the BBC iPlayer (if you missed them I am sure they will be shown again in the future, and will almost certainly be available on DVD eventually).


Episode 1: Davina McCall (first broadcast 15th July 2009)

Viewing figures (from Broadcast): 6.4 million

Like Davina the episode was half-English and half-French. The English half explored the life of James Thomas Bedborough and the impact of his death on his surviving family. The French half concerned Celestin Hennion an important figure in the history of the French police service.


Episode 2: Chris Moyles (first broadcast 22nd July 2009)

Viewing figures (from Broadcast): 4.7 million

This episode was mainly centred around Ireland with Chris Moyles uncovering tales of poverty and hardship, but it finished in Ypres retracing the steps of his great-grandfather who died there.


Episode 3: Kate Humble (first broadcast 29th July 2009)

Viewing figures (from Broadcast): 4.6 million

Perhaps the most outstanding episode this series, Kate Humble discovered the lives of three remarkable ancestors. One of whom was involved in the real life POW escape which was the inspiration for the film The Great Escape.


Episode 4: David Mitchell (first broadcast 5th August 2009)

Viewing figures (from Broadcast): 4.1 million

David Mitchell explored the lives of his ancestors in some quite remote and stunning Scottish landscape. No major revelations, just hard work (sheep farmers) and devotion to duty and the people of his parish (Church of Scotland Minister).


Episode 5: Kim Cattrall (first broadcast 12th August 2009)

Viewing figures (from Broadcast): 5.9 million

Probably the most emotional episode, Kim Cattrall attempted to find out what happened to her grandfather after he walked on his wife and children. Lots of anger and bitterness for a man who left is family with virtually nothing when he left.


Episode 6: Martin Freeman (first broadcast 19th August 2009)

Viewing figures (from Broadcast): 6.0 million

There were no earth shattering revelations in Martin Freeman’s episode, which mostly concerned his great-grandparents and the many children they had, and the common disability they shared.


One thing I found really interesting with this series was not that most of the celebrities didn’t really know a lot about their ancestors, but the fact that they felt they should have done and were even embarrassed or ashamed that they didn’t.

If I had to pick a favourite episode it would have to be the one with Kate Humble, the poor woman had revelation after revelation piled upon her, concerning ancestors that were truly remarkable people. It made compelling viewing and emotional viewing and should serve as a reminder that we shouldn’t rush back generation after generation, but ask questions and find out about those closer to us who we assumed were just normal ordinary people.

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