Family History is big business these days, there are a plethora of magazines, websites, blogs and books on the subject. With the age of the Internet it is now easier than ever to type a name into a search engine and find someone. It isn’t as easy as the advertisements would have you believe but it’s still a lot easier than having to visit libraries, cemeteries and family history centres.
The question I ask today is ‘Why is it so popular and why do you look back?’ What is it you’re hoping to find?
I began with a desire to find out all I could about my mother’s family. At best there were two things that I really wanted: one was to find a photograph of my grandmother, the other to find the name of my grandfather.
For others it may be to go back as far as you can in your family tree. For others to find someone interesting, a gripping story perhaps. Or to find living family members you knew nothing about.
Looking at my family history I realise how much I have gained from looking back. Some of the things have surprised me, some have astounded me and others have taken my breath away. There are so many reasons for looking back, and I feel the need to revisit my own motivation for beginning this search.
I’ve been lucky enough to find photographs, to trace a gripping story and to find living family members who have proved delightful and an asset to my life, the only thing eluding me is to find the name of my grandfather.
I was so delighted to receive images of my grandmother, and am still happily digging around to try to find the name of my grandfather. The photographs came from my mother’s cousin’s son, and that is another story.
Looking as far back as possible isn’t something that personally interests me, although I can understand why it appeals to a lot of people. I think it’s because I prefer to find out more about individuals than just names and dates. I am a writer of stories, not a lister of numbers, therefore a name and a date mean little to me.
Having said that, it is possible to find out a lot about someone from their name and dates. You can see what was going on in the world at the time they were born and died, this gives you a picture of what life might have been like for them. You can see if their name was a popular one at the time.
Finding living members of my family was not something that really occurred to me when I began searching but it has become a real joy as members of the family have read my blog or seen my ancestry tree and contacted me. Below is a photo from May 2015 when Mum’s cousin Ron, his son and family visited me.
I also wonder ‘What have I gained from looking back?’ and this is a question that requires a lot of thought. I will answer this question in the next blog. If you have any thoughts about this subject please leave a comment and I will get back to you.