Monday, 14 June 2010
Have At Thee, BBC's 'Who Do You Think You Are'!
Sadly, the curse of WDYTYA? has encouraged visitors to libraries and archives to expect this magical service. They present themselves, tell us their last names and wait for us to produce the book of their family and move them to tears. It doesn't really work like that. Sorry.
When starting your family tree, always do as much research as you can within your own family before trying a records centre. Ask your parents and grandparents (if they are still around) as many questions as you can. Don't just ask for the names of your grandparents' parents; ask about their brothers and sisters too as this will make it easier to find them on a census. Middle names are also useful, as are any professions that you know of.
Take your research with you to the archive. We have several visitors every year who describe the reams of research and acres of carefully compiled scrapbooks that they left at home in loving detail. We need to see them.
Lastly, research takes a lot of time. Some of our visitors have been doing their family history for 10 years! Sometimes people are lucky and their relatives had an unusual name, were landowners or didn't move around very much and so can be traced easily from census to census. everyone else has to work at it. (It is fun though, you feel like a detective.)
Two particular episodes made every one here swoon with rage. First, was the Matthew Pincent episode where he was traced back to God. Don't get me started on that.