Heritage photos showing a female bus conductor at work, and fishermen standing by the shore with their nets and catch

Occupation of the Day Christmas Quiz 2023

Another year draws to a close: where does the time go?

But have YOU been paying attention to the weird and wonderful historical occupations which have featured in my #OccupationOfTheDay posts on social media? And would you like to turn that knowledge into a chance to win one of this year’s most highly-rated history books?… Read the rest

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

Bringing Home the Bacon (Part 1)

Oh, the times when it happens. A fresh breakthrough when searching the records leads you to a result for your ancestor. Momentary delight is rapidly displaced by a sinking feeling of puzzlement as the scrawled handwriting reveals an occupational term which is a complete mystery to you. Such frustration.

Strange occupations.
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Christmas Competition: The Historic Occupations Quiz

Sepia photograph of a worker on a horse and cart containing Christmas trees

Our Historic Occupations Christmas Quiz ran throughout December 2020 – thanks to all those who took part! Although the competition has now closed, you can still try your hand at the questions simply for the fun of the challenge. Scroll down to enjoy the quiz as many times as you like.Read the rest

Explore Your (Digital) Archives: 4 Amazing Websites to Broaden Your Genealogy Horizons

It’s the last week of November: the time of year when we celebrate Explore Your Archive week. If you’re a keen user of social media, you may have noticed a number of posts using the #ExploreYourArchives hashtag in recent days. This initiative from the Archives and Records Association aims to raise public awareness of the value of our archive and heritage sector, and encourage us to engage with all the wonderful resources they have to offer.… Read the rest

In Search of the Real ‘Blitz Spirit’

Few now survive who lived through World War II. Those remaining today can provide valuable accounts of their experiences, but such memories largely involve wartime childhood. As family historians, how can we connect with the range of experiences of adult civilians of the time?

Luckily, a remarkable collection of diaries in the UK’s Mass Observation Archive (MOA) allows us to step into the hearts and minds of the Blitzers.… Read the rest

Summer Lovin’: Marriage Trends Over the Generations

Bride Ann weds her groom Antony, 2 June 1962. Photo: Mr James Ackerley, CC BY-NC 2.0.

Spring is here, the sky is blue,

Birds all sing as if they knew

Today’s the day we’ll say “I do”,

And we’ll never be lonely any more…

Dixie Cups, “Chapel of Love”, April 1964.
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Asking the Right Question: Part 3

Picture this scene: you absolutely love chocolate cake and have decided to bake your own. You’ve even bought a cake tin especially for the purpose. You’re thrilled. You can’t wait to get started. Whenever you look at the tin, you think, “that’s the chocolate cake tin”. It’s become so fixed in your mind as the chocolate cake tin that it doesn’t once occur to you to use it to make other flavours of cake: lemon, coffee, blueberry, vanilla…and so there’s a whole load of things you end up missing out on.… Read the rest

Palaeography: A Digital Toolkit

For the past few months, the UK National Archives (TNA) has made its digital downloads free of charge until more normal operation resumes. Perhaps inevitably, the keen response in genealogical circles (including in popular magazines such as Who Do You Think You Are?) has focused on some of the main sources used in genealogy research – whether that’s military records, wills and probate documents, or poor law records.… Read the rest