“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more…”
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
Welcome to another article on my Negative Space methods for family history research! If you’d like to hear more, you can catch my talk on Negative Space at the Society of Genealogists in July 2023. Tickets available here.
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
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.
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
How do you feel when your genealogy research hits a brick wall: frustrated, demoralised, perhaps downright bewildered? Sometimes what you need is a fresh perspective on your family history to kickstart your research process.
The best stories always start with a map. Whether I was in Narnia or the Hundred Acre Wood, Middle-Earth or Treasure Island, the books of my childhood were ever the richer for having a map at the front, ready to help me navigate those magical worlds.
For me, the maps fascination has never subsided, and I know I’m not alone in this.… Read the rest
Today, we’re going to talk about the elephant in every genealogist’s research room. It’s one we’ve all spent some time with, whether we realise it or not. And what’s more, this particular elephant tends to divert our research when it shouldn’t. At its worst, it can stampede us right off course.… Read the rest
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 thechocolate 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
I presume you took my advice from Part 1 and now have tea and biscuits at the ready? Excellent – they’re the foundation of many a good research session. If you followed through Part 1, you’ve now got your research question written down and possibly tacked to the wall or computer screen on a sticky note.… Read the rest