Array of historical occupations including lacemaking, agriculture, baking and basket weaving

Bringing Home the Bacon (Part 3)

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more…

Ever had that feeling you’re not in Kansas anymore? Historical language often presents a major barrier to our understanding, and unfamiliar terms can sometimes prevent us from moving forward with our research.

The confusion and displacement which Dorothy Gale voices when she steps out into the land of Oz for the first time in MGM’s iconic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz should resonate with many family historians.… Read the rest

Six Hats for Genealogy

Six coloured hats on a black background
The Six Hats of genealogical thinking. Schematic (C) Sophie Kay, 2022.

Get your thinking cap on.

Throw your hat into the ring.

Wearing many hats.

The hat can be a powerful analogy for how we think and act. Changing our hat can transform our attitude: wearing a fedora might turn you into Indiana Jones, ready for perilous adventures involving snakes and priceless historical artefacts.… Read the rest

Let’s Make Genealogy Accessible

I’ll start today with a minor confession. Microfiche readers pose a big problem for me. Not because of their mechanics or the often poor visibility, but because of the intense backlight used to illuminate the film. Unfortunately I suffer from an aggressive form of migraine which presents exactly like a stroke (paralysis, loss of vision, hearing, speech), and – most unfortunately – is triggered by bright lights.… Read the rest

Six themed images: a line of coloured hats; a DNA helix; a journal; the exterior of the Victoria and Albert Museum; book Tunnel 29; and an Ishihashi slide to test for colour blindness

Autumn/Winter 2021 at The Parchment Rustler

Six themed images: a line of coloured hats; a DNA helix; a journal; the exterior of the Victoria and Albert Museum; book Tunnel 29; and an Ishihashi slide to test for colour blindness
Just a little hint of some of the themes I have in the pipeline for you here at The Parchment Rustler over autumn/winter 2021. Image credits: Ishihashi slide c/o Wellcome Collection, CC-BY 4.0; Tunnel 29 photo and Six Hats image (C) Sophie Kay.

You may have noticed that things have been a little quiet of late here at The Parchment Rustler – at least in terms of new articles coming out (believe me, the behind-the-scenes stuff never stops).… Read the rest

working with negative space? try these four top tips

Mind the Gap!

Welcome to another article on my Negative Space methods for family history research! If you’d like to hear more, you can catch my Keynote talk on Negative Space at THE Genealogy Show this week (available online until the 25th July 2021). Tickets available here.

Our process with physical jigsaws can get us thinking about how we solve genealogy problems.
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1920s wedding photo showing the bride and groom surrounded by immediate family outside a church

Ancestral Hide-and-Seek in the Roaring Twenties

Where were YOUR ancestors on the evening of Sunday 19 June, 1921? It’s not long to go now before you can find out. Excitement is building in the genealogy world as one of the most hotly-anticipated record releases in a long while edges closer to public view, promising to unfold countless family history stories across the nation and beyond.… Read the rest

Front cover of Simon Smith's book The British Census

Review: The British Census

Ah, the census – a classic game of ancestral hide-and-seek: pages upon pages of names, ages, occupations, places of birth…sometimes illegible, sometimes containing little (or big) white lies to confuse us. Anyone who has researched their family history in the British Isles through the 19th and 20th centuries will know the wonder, joy and frustration of trying to hunt down ancestors within census records.… Read the rest

Bringing Home the Bacon (Part 2)

Dishevelled and worn down by life, the old man trudges through the streets, inspecting the floor for the slightest hint of dog’s mess he can collect for his pail. Once the bucket is full, he will make for the local tannery to sell the contents for the highest price he can obtain.… Read the rest

The Pitter Patter of Ghostly Feet

You walk into the scan room thinking that you’re a happy mum in her second trimester. A fortnight later you find yourself standing in the unmarked section of a silent cemetery, staring at a little wooded glade where your baby’s ashes have been scattered. The shift is so abrupt, so unheralded, that you can spend years trying to catch up with it all.… Read the rest

Promises to Your Ancestors: Making (and Keeping) Your Genealogy Goals

We’re only a few days into the year: chances are that you have already given up on that New Year’s resolution you made last week. If so, then you’re in good company: a 2018 YouGov poll of the UK population suggested that less than a quarter of people who make resolutions actually keep them.… Read the rest