Perhaps there is a better description, but I can’t think of one at the moment. It was totally unrelated to my family, just a quick bit of research work, using online sources readily available to me, I could use my knowledge and experience to help someone learn more about their family.
I bumped into a former work colleague of mine on the way to work, and we got to talking about family history and the 1911 census, it was then that I learned that my ex-colleague was having a problem identifying a great-grandfather and wondered if the 1911 census would help?
I replied that only if you knew where to look and knew enough about the person to be able to identify them confidently. So I got some details, and really they were quite sparse: a name, his occupation, an address, and his son’s name. Not a lot to go on, and no dates other than the son was born in the first part of the 20th century.
Whilst at work (let’s say during my lunch break in case the boss sees this) I was able to do some searches on FreeBMD and ancestry.co.uk, fortunately the names were quite easy to find in the right area, and before long I was looking at census returns and had built up a small family tree, identified a few interest facts (like the great grandfather’s father had died young and his mother had remarried quite quickly) that might be worth looking into.
My research was stopped dead by the fact that in 1839 there were two children born in the same place with the same names (different parents). That is going to take some figuring out and will require a bit more long term commitment.
As luck would have it I saw my ex-colleague on the way home from work, and shared the results of my searches, they were pleased that a part of the puzzle had been solved. All I need to do now is write up what I found (with the sources) and print off the relevant census returns, perhaps I will even include some suggestions of where and how to check this and further research that they could carry out.
All in all, it was a very rewarding and enjoyable experience, and extremely satisfying to be able to help someone in a small way, so perhaps I may do more of this in the future.