Last year wasn’t particularly ground breaking in terms of my family history. It is hard to bring to mind any major discoveries, I’m sure there were a few mysteries solved and gaps filled in but nothing memorable stands out.
This year I don’t expect a lot to change, time is still going to be a limiting factor and I suspect money will become more of an issue this year as well, so in general it needs to be a case of making the most of the resources I have already available to me.
I do want to get out to more archives and record offices this year and in light of the previous paragraph, I need to be making the most of these opportunities by making sure I am more organised about what I want to achieve.
I don’t actually see myself growing my family tree to any great extent this year, but rather adding to what I already have. Specifically I have become more interested in recent generations (my grandparents and great-grandparents) and feel I should be learning more about these generations whilst those that knew them are still around.
There is always plenty of housekeeping to be done on my family history, generally I consider my database to be in pretty good order, but there is always something that needs doing (like attaching photos to my family tree) and one big task this year will be to update all my 1911 census images with the unredacted versions and note any disabilities that come to light on my database.
There should hopefully be a couple of new collections coming out this year from Ancestry and Findmypast which will prove interesting and helpful for my research and should give me something to look forward to. Talking of things to look forward to there is of course Who Do You Think You Are Live in a couple of months, which I really ought to be preparing for now.
Once again I seem to have achieved very little this week when it comes to family history, in fact I don’t really know where the time has gone.
I have done much thinking about family history, but not much real work. That thinking about family history usually pays off in the long run, it usually helps me organise my thoughts and plan the way forward on particular projects.
I know what I need to do next with the NICHOLLS/DRAPPER families from Kent, a little bit more research from home using the IGI and the census to build up a basic framework and then head for an archive or library to check some copies of the original parish registers.
I know that project is going to grind to a halt shortly as I wait for the opportunity to visit that archive or library, so I have lined up my next project, working on Thomas WELLER and his wife (possibly Mary NEWNHAM). This puts me back on home territory (Sussex) again and hopefully I should be able to make some progress on this without too many problems.
The next step for Thomas and Mary WELLER is to prove I have found the correct marriage, I should be able to do this by ordering the birth certificate of one of their children. I would like it to be Mary Ann WELLER my 3x great-grandmother but I am having trouble finding the correct reference, so it might have to be one of her brothers.
The good news is that the long Easter weekend means that I should have opportunity to get on with some family history. Unfortunately I can’t spend all four days on my family history, but should have enough time to get a decent amount done.
I have been thinking more about my issues with the county of Kent and now I am convinced that it would be beneficial to spend some time learning more about research in Kent.
I don’t have time to research all the parishes in Kent, at least not in one go anyway. Initially I need to focus on the places in my family tree that I need to learn more about and then let my family history research guide me from there, building up knowledge and information as I go along.
I am going to start by extracting a list of Kent parishes and registration districts from my family history software along with some names and dates. Then I can start working on the list of places.
I want to pull together a list of resources for each of the places, finding out which archives, libraries, websites or societies have information that might be of use to me. Along with this I need to build up a list of general links to Kent resources (and possibly some books). It would also be useful to find some maps (or links to some maps) to give me some help with the geography of the county.
The next question is how to record all this information? I am considering using a TiddlyWiki which I think might be ideal for the job, plus I have been looking for an excuse to use one for ages.
I still seem to have a real mental block when it comes to researching my family history in the county of Kent, England. So many of the branches of my family tree seem to stop abruptly when I cross the border into Kent and I have to admit that my heart sinks when I find an ancestor that comes from Kent.
I have nothing against Kent and it’s people, from what I have seen it is a nice place and I would like to spend more time there. For starters I still need to finish walking the North Downs Way through the county.
There doesn’t seem to be anything uniquely different about family history research in Kent. The same core record types exist as they do anywhere else in England and the research process is the same, but still I have a mental block on research in the county.
Accessibility is a problem, or at least I perceive it to be a problem. It is not particularly easy for me to get to the two main archives at Maidstone and Canterbury, but it is considerably easier than getting to the archives in Gloucester or Carlisle and only a lack of time and money are stopping me from going to those two.
I think the big problem is that I have been rather spoilt by my years of research in Sussex. I now have a pretty good idea of the resources available and where to find them, as well as a reasonable background knowledge of the county. I have also been very much spoilt by the wonderful resources of the Sussex Family History Group.
I am wondering if I need to do some serious research into the county itself. I think it might be worth my time and effort spending a while on the place and not the people, identifying the key records for the places I am interested in and which archive or website has them.
It could be quite a task, but the more I think about the more I think it could be a worthwhile exercise. Still at the back of my mind is the idea that this might just be another way for me to avoid having to do any real family history research in Kent.
I had another day off today and the weather was miserable again, so I headed for the East Sussex Record Office in Lewes, East Sussex to knock some more items off my to-do list.
The plan was much the same as yesterday at the West Sussex Record Office, which essentially meant there was no plan, just collect as much data as possible, and if it cleared stuff from my to-do list then even better. Like yesterday there weren’t really any major discoveries, but I was pleased to find a few entries that have been (or should have been) on my to-do list for a long time.
These included baptism records for my grandmother and great-grandmother. I had never got around to looking for either record before, I had a pretty good idea where the first record would be and had already found an index entry for the second and just need to double-check it.
The most pleasing find however was the baptism record for William Joseph Henry BATEMAN. I have written much about William (who joined the Royal Navy and ended up making his home in Australia) but had never sat down before and searched for his baptism record, even though I had a pretty good idea where I should be looking.
The most surprising find was the baptism record for George TROWER in Brighton. Even though he is not a particularly close relation (first cousin three times removed) I had searched for his baptism for several years. His parents were from Henfield, Sussex but spent a few years in Brighton before returning to the family farm in Henfield. It was really pleasing to find his baptism today because I had not been deliberately looking for it.
It shouldn’t take me long to sort through this information (and that collected yesterday) and enter it in the right spreadsheet and database, but these two days have highlighted the fact that I need to get my to-do list a little better organised. Over the last two days I have largely been working with my netbook (for the to-do list and my family tree) and a lined A4 refill pad, this worked pretty well but my to-do list is get too large and in some cases it doesn’t have enough information, perhaps it is time to upgrade from my simple text file.