One of my major interests these days is Genealogy. I believe that we owe much of what we are today, to the collective experiences of our forbears.
Probably the thing that excited my curiosity initially was finding answers to questions concerning my parents. I had migrated to the antipodes when I was still a teenager, and although I kept in touch with my mother especially whilst I was in Australia and subsequently New Zealand, there was never the chance to ring ‘home’ and ask a question about their earlier lives. The inevitable happened, of course, as first my Dad and then my Mum passed away and the opportunity to ask those questions, was no longer possible.
My marriage broke up in the early 1990′s, and in 1997 after a relatively successful career in health safety and environmental management, I had the opportunity to return to the UK with my then employer and take up a contract position to help steer the company into compliance with the (then) environmental management standard, ISO14001.
So back in the country of my ancestors, I still had all those questions, but now at least I was in the right place and had the IT skills to utilise the UK’s extensive record sets! Working from the limited information I had and in conjunction with two older brothers and their families, I started to find something about my roots.
I had no idea that I had Irish and German ancestors (the latter is the source of my bread-making heritage)♥. Although I had some knowledge of my Dad’s later working life, I was totally ignorant of his army service (before, during and post) WW1. I knew nothing of his fisherman forbears from Kent or my maternal great grandfather’s family from Frankfurt.
Now there are well over 1,000 people in my family tree, with most lines going back to the 1700′s. I have (distant) cousins in several countries outside the UK, including Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Germany. There are yet to be discovered cousins in Ireland and elsewhere, with no doubt many stories of how their lives were affected by the potato famine and the troubles in the early years of the 20th century. Through the communications revolution of the 21st century, I can delve into records from all over the world and flesh out the bare bones of my ancestral history.
It’s a fantastic hobby, and I have been most fortunate in having guidance and help from many, many amateur family history sleuths. Although I am far from an expert, I do try also to put something back also, and currently spend several hours a week transcribing paper documentation into computer records so that others can (hopefully!) find one or two missing links. I have also managed to help a few others with help and guidance so that they too can share their ancestors’ stories.
If you are thinking of looking into your own family history, and need a bit of advice, post a comment below, and I will do my best to point you in somewhere approaching the right direction!
PS – I have posted my top twelve genealogical web sites on my links page♥ see my ‘Cookery’ page