Last night for the first time in months I realised that I was well and truly hooked on family history again.
As the clock on my computer ticked ever nearer to midnight I realised that it was long past by bedtime and I really ought to be getting to bed, but what I was working on was far too interesting and exciting to put down.
I had forgotten the thrill that comes when everything seems to come together and suddenly something that had been puzzling me for months made perfect sense.
It was a wedding photo that had been the focus of my attention, somehow linked in with my grandmother and the search for her adopted sister Minnie.
As I stared at the photo it dawned on me that my grandmother could be the young girl in the wedding group and a few searches later things started to come together.
I have no photo of my grandmother at that age, but the more I stared at that photo the more certain I became. More importantly I now know who the bride and groom where, and how they were connected to Minnie and my grandmother.
But that is jumping ahead, last night everything just seemed to come together, and perhaps more important than the discovery of the identity of the people in the photo was the discovery that I still love family history.
I have just finished reading the book Map Addict by Mike Parker (published by HarperCollins in 2009) and I must say it is probably the best book I have read this year. I heard the author earlier in the year presenting a series on BBC Radio 4 entitled On the Map, which was enjoyable but disappointingly short. Much of the material from the radio series is also featured in the book, or probably in truth it was the other way round.
I have a strong interest in maps but would not really consider myself to be a map addict (and certainly not to the same extreme as the author), so the subject matter obviously appealed to me, but the book is so wide ranging that you don’t really need to have an obsession with maps and mapping to enjoy it. The style of writing is passionate and engaging, and in some places very personal and funny.
The book covers the origins of the Ordnance Survey, through to the impact of the satnav and internet mapping and many points in between, including how Greenwich became home to the Prime Meridian and the Summer Solstice alignments in the heart of Milton Keynes. The book also describes the many and varied reasons for the creation of maps over the centuries.
It has been a long time since I have found a non-fiction (or fiction) book impossible to put down, but it really was the case with this book. It has made me laugh out loud, as well as making me question my own relationship with maps.
You know you are addicted to family history when you take half a day holiday from work and spend £11.90 on a train ticket, to visit London so you can check two baptism records!
I’m sure there have been many posts like this on genealogy blogs the world over, but I think it is time to admit that I have a problem, I am addicted to genealogy.
The aim of my trip was to try and find out if my 3x great grandfather Thomas KINGHORN was baptised in Carlisle, Cumberland, England (yes, I still hadn’t found the answer to that one). I knew the records were at the London Family History Centre, and I had some other stuff to check if I had time or if my first search was negative, so it wouldn’t be a complete waste of time.
So, it wouldn’t be a waste of time, but even to me in retrospect it seemed a little extreme or extravagant. This is why I think I am addicted, the need to be researching my family history is so strong now that I cannot last a week without visiting a record office!
I don’t think there is any way I can cure my addiction to family history, but I may be able to cut back on my consumption. So I am going to make a promise to myself and the blogosphere, that starting in April I will restrict myself to one record office/archive visit a month. There is plenty of research I can do without setting foot inside a record office, and it will give me an excuse to catch up with lots of sorting out I should be doing.
Besides, there are still five days before the start of April!