Merry Christmas to all the readers of this blog. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my posts. May Father Christmas makes all your wishes and dreams come true at this special time of year.
I’m afraid to say Christmas won the day. For the third Saturday in a row I haven’t done any family history research.
I am slightly worried that I am not going to get my family tree chart printed in time for Christmas, because next week is looking quite busy, but I am sure I can find time to get to the print and copy shop.
Today an old friend and I met up for a pre-Christmas day out, featuring the cinema, pizza and slipping around on icy pavements. The film was A Christmas Carol in 3D, which wasn’t a bad film, although I am not sure it was that much different to (or better than) any of the previous films of the same name.
To my colleagues (or rather ex-colleagues now) this may come as a surprise, as I did say that the only Christmas film I was going to watch over Christmas was Die Hard. Perhaps I am not really Scrooge after all.
As Monday is the last posting day for Christmas I decided that I needed to get my Christmas cards done this evening. I am pleased to say they are all ready to be dropped into the post-box tomorrow morning, apart from the ones that I will be delivering by hand over the next few days.
Week 51, that must mean it is almost Christmas and my Christmas Tree Project is not completed. Everything this week needs to be geared towards getting it completed. It doesn’t help that I didn’t get much work done on it last week or this weekend.
- Create the headshot photos and the ‘blank’ headshot photo, and link them to my ancestors.
- Make sure I have text scheme for the ancestor’s boxes on the chart defined and showing all the information I want.
- Carry on filling in the missing gaps. There are not many more that I can do from home, but I could do with spending some money on the 1911 census but that will have to wait until after Christmas.
- Check with the print and copy shop that they will be open next week and they can print my family tree in time, otherwise I am going to be in trouble.
Not much actual research done last week, but I did clear a lot from my stuff to sort folder by scanning pages rather than actually going through them and deciding what to do with them. I didn’t get a lot done on the presentation of my chart for my Christmas Tree Project, so that will be carried over to this coming week as well.
- Priority is to get as much research done as possible on my Christmas Tree Project, mostly in East Sussex and Kent, just filling in missing details for my ancestors.
- Prepare for a trip to the London Family History Centre. This Saturday will be my last chance to get up there before Christmas and whilst I don’t particularly relish the idea of head up to London a couple of weeks before Christmas I need to make the most of the opportunity.
- Work on the presentation of my chart. Create the headshot photos and work on the text scheme for the ancestor boxes.
- Get rid of my stuff to sort folder. I think this week I will actually be able to finish sorting out my paperwork. I have only a few pages left, and most of that is scanning, so I think I will have it finished this week.
- I should get a birth certificate this week for one of the younger children of Thomas and Rebecca BATEMAN (my 4x great-grandparents). This should give me Rebecca’s maiden name which I think is TOWNSEND, but need to be sure.
Apart from family history I need to start thinking seriously about Christmas, I might start writing cards this week, which if I do will be a record for me, usually it is a lot later than this (just in time for the last posting date).
I have mentioned my goal of having a chart of all my ancestors back to my 4x great grandparents printed in time for Christmas several time recently, but I thought it would be a good idea to go into some detail about my why I want to do this and what I want to achieve.
I have decided to call it My Christmas Tree Project because it is my family tree and I want it to be ready for Christmas, but mainly because I needed something short and simple to call it when I write or talk about it.
The finished product will be a printed chart, showing all my direct ancestors up to and including my 4x great grandparents. I am not sure if it is all going to fit on one chart and still be readable, I may have to have it printed in two halves.
The choice of 4x great grandparents was purely because that seemed the most achievable. I could have chosen 3x great grandparents and printed it tomorrow, but that would have given me nothing to aim for. Instead I now have a challenge to work towards, as well as a deadline.
I want to be able to show the tree around at Christmas when families gather, or visit. It will be a talking point, and whilst I don’t expect anyone to be able to add anything else to earlier generations, I do hope that I will be able to draw out information, and possibly photos of more recent ancestors.
Naturally part of it is an ego trip for me, being able to show off what I have achieved and show that all the time spent in front of the computer or in the record office and library has achieved something tangible.
So far most of my research has been trapped on my PC and more recently with the purchase of a netbook I have been able to share it easier, but I think people will be able to relate better to a printed chart than a small computer screen.
Of course a printed chart will only be able to contain a fraction of my research, for starters it will only have my direct ancestors on it, and I won’t be able to go into much detail on each individual, and will miss out some of the more interesting characters I have come across in my extended family.
The process of researching and preparing my data will also force me to review my data and fill in a lot of gaps that I have either forgotten to finish, or just skipped over on the way to something which seemed more interesting.
Currently I have twelve of my 4x great grandparents still to find, and five 4x great grandmothers whose maiden names I do not know yet. This week I will be putting together a plan to identify each of these seventeen individuals.
Some will be quite straight forward, such as requiring the purchase of a child’s birth certificate to provide the mother’s maiden name, but some are going to be more tricky because they are before the start of civil registration and detailed census returns.
Over the next couple of months I won’t be working exclusively on this project, and in many cases it will necessary to wait for a certificate to arrive or to get chance to visit a record office, so some of my other projects will get a look in. Also I won’t just stop at my 4x great grandparents, whilst I am at an archive it makes sense to carry on and try and go back further if possible.
Ultimately if I don’t find all 64 of my 4x great grandparents I am just going to have to live with the fact that my tree won’t look perfect, but in nature trees seldom do, so I shouldn’t get too hung up if mine doesn’t either.
I have been slowly working through my tree trying to identify all my 4x great grandparents, but I think I have reached a point now where there is very little I can do without a visit to a couple of archives, and spending a serious amount of time searching.
So far I have identified 52 out of 64 of my 4x great grandparents to a varying degree. Some of the women haven’t got a maiden name yet, some I have only the briefest of details for, but most have more than just a name. Some have more detail if they were alive during the census years.
Filling in the gaps is going to be my goal for November, although I may start early. What is really worrying me is the missing 12 individuals, and the realisation that I might never find out who they all are.
There are some who I just need to get to the right archive. For instance the MITCHELLs and POCOCKs from Hampshire will probably require a visit to Winchester and the Hampshire Record Office, or maybe the London Family History Centre.
Then there are the parents of Ellen NICHOLLS who may or may not have married William GEERING. From the census I have a clue where she came from but without a marriage record giving me her father’s name it is going to be hard to say for certain that I have found the right person.
Many months ago I wrote about Henry WRIGHT and his wife (or partner possibly) Sarah Ann, who appear not to have married either. I have not looked at their data for a while, because it was doing my head in.
Part of me thinks that if I never find all these 12 people I will have failed, I will never know completely who my ancestors were and it is not worth continuing, so I should stop now.
I need to accept that whether it is this generation, the next one or four generations further back I will inevitably run into a dead end that is never going to be solved no matter how much time and money I throw at it.
But now is not time to give up, perhaps it is a time to focus on something else for a while, but I have given myself October to identify all my 4x great grandparents, so I still have time to complete it (ultimately I want to find all my ancestors back to my 4x great grandparents so I can produce a printed tree to share with the family at Christmas).
I have one weeks holiday coming up soon which will enable me to get out and get some research done. So the next step will be to draw up a research plan for each of these 12 individuals to make sure I make the most of my research time. With the other 52 I need to identify any obvious gaps, such as missing maiden names so I can fill in those as well whilst I am out researching.
Most of all I need to stop worrying and accept that one day I will have a brick wall that cannot be destroyed no matter how hard I try, and that I will not have failed when that does happen. It will just make my tree look a bit odd, with one branch shorter than the others!
From sometime in October 2009 the 1911 census will be available from findmypast.com on a yearly or six monthly subscription. Up until now it has only been available on a PayAsYouGo basis, but at last a more cost effective option is available.
The subscription will be on top of the normal findmypast Explorer subscription, although there will be a discount on the 1911 subscription for existing findmypast.com subscribers, and the 1911 census will still be available on PayAsYouGo at 1911census.co.uk.
The cost for a year will be £59.95 (without the discount) and for six months it will be £39.95. Further details can be found on findmypast.com and the 1911census.co.uk blog. The 1911 subscription can also be bought (or upgraded) along with the normal Explorer subscription.
The question now is do I need to buy a subscription, if I did there are lots of people in my family tree that I could look up, but I don’t think any of them are important to my research at the moment. I could just be generating myself a lot more work, and heaven knows I have plenty of that already, so I will probably stick with PayAsYouGo for the time being, but Christmas is not far around the corner and perhaps this might be on my wish list!