Dec 172014

Christmas blog 17 Dec 2014

December is upon us and so is the holiday season. Although our schedules are sure to be busy with all the associated tasks of the holidays, one task must remain on our list throughout the season; talking to our families. Holidays often bring families and friends together only for a brief moment in time, use that time wisely! Remember to ask those questions of your family and their long-time neighbors before they are no longer with us. The greatest genealogical information you will find is residing in the heads of the people who lived the events and created the documents that resulted.

In addition to family stories, family photographs and heirlooms abound if you know where to look. With all of the smartphone technology available today it is easy to snap photographs of historic photographs and furniture, pretty much anything that ties you into your family stories and history. It is also a much nicer way than arguing over who gets Aunt Bessie’s hope chest when she dies. Particularly if she’s sitting on the couch while the discussion is happening.

The very last time I visited my grandmother, I had my husband take his camera and go through the house photographing it. Not because I wished to take inventory or have anything from it, but because I grew up in the house and wanted the memories of the way it looked while she was still alive. When I look at these photographs, they bring up my own memories that I write down for my children. They may not appreciate it now, but they will someday when they wished they asked me questions too.

So what will you do this holiday season? Who will you visit? Are you flying or driving back to the place you grew up? Or, do you have family flying in from other places? Think about what you would like to know and what you would like to share with your family. What did they do for a living? How did they end up living in the town/city they are in right now? Where did they live when they were children? What did their parents do for a living? What was life like when they were children? Did they live through a period of history (war, poverty, immigration, etc.) that was particularly memorable to them?

What are your favorite family traditions and stories? Are you sharing them this holiday season? Do you have family stories of your ancestors that were passed down or found in a diary perhaps? Jump on over to our forum and share some of your traditions and stories with us. Happy Holidays!

Christine Sharbrough

Dec 102014

What holiday traditions are found in your place? From The Bucks Herald, 2 January 1909:

Christmas has been, as usual, a busy and happy time in this village [Wing Buckinghamshire]. During the days preceding the festival, many presents were dispatched from Ascott for the children of those working on the estate, while gifts of turkeys and geese found their way to the parents. On Wednesday morning week Mrs Leopold de Rothschild personally attended at the Cricket Pavilion at Ascott to distribute the beef which Mr and Mrs de Rothschild give to every one in the village. No one is overlooked, and the gift is so arranged that those with large families have a joint in proportion, so that at least on Christmas Day all in this fortunate village have enough and to spare. The services in the parish church were well attended, bright and hearty, the Vicar, who is at present without a curate, being assisted by his eldest son Mr Lawrence Tatham M.A., who was ordained on the fourth Sunday in Advent. On Christmas-day there was a large number of communicants at the seven, eight and eleven o’clock celebrations. The carol service in the afternoon was also well attended. On Sunday evening a selection of carols was sung by the choir at evensong. The bells have been much in evidence during the season. From the shortest day to the 25th a peal was rung every morning at five o’clock, while on Christmas-eve a peal was rung at midnight.

© Copyright Nigel Cox and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

A snowy All Saints Church, Wing Buckinghamshire, December 2005 © Copyright Nigel Cox and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

And from The Beds Advertiser & Luton Times, 3 January 1913:

The Burcott Christmas ball, arranged by the Wing Hall Dancing Committee, on Friday night, was another great success. The number of dancers was 85, and the ten sets of Lancers were a very pretty sight.

For more one-place studies chat on traditions and holidays, watch our Hangout recorded last December:

Alex Coles

Dec 022014

Over the weekend we ran another HangoutOnAir which clocked in at 73 minutes long. Janet and Kim steered us through creating an in-depth report for a one-place study. Here at the Society website you get a page dedicated to your registered one-place study and we also encourage members to create an in-depth report which can be added to your page. This won’t be close to everything you know about your place (you’d need a book, or two, for that!) but it provides a more detailed introduction to your place over time and makes an excellent read for fellow family historians who might have just discovered their first ancestor from your place and are keen to learn more.

Janet ran through a suggested approach for writing your report using ten sections, with Kim chipping in with illustrations from her own one-place study’s in-depth report. You don’t have to use all sections as you will find some areas more applicable or more fascinating to you but they provide a great framework for tackling things, and also provide a great framework for identifying and prioritising research areas for your study. For a summary of the ten areas see our in-depth report guidelines page, and for some more examples see our Resources page which has links to in-depth reports already submitted by members.

The recording of the Hangout is archived in our YouTube channel for you to watch any time.

Alex Coles

Nov 262014

Hi members! Have you prepared an in-depth report for your one-place study page yet? If you haven’t, why not join us this Saturday 8pm GMT for our next Google+ HangoutOnAir and learn more about our suggested framework for putting a report together. You’ll find this session useful even if you have a very new one-place study or are simply contemplating undertaking one as we will be going over key things you will want to learn about your place.

Who? What? Where?

Who? What? Where?

The Event page can be found here:

Remember, you don’t have to be a Society member to join our Google+ community and view or participate in this event. Let us know you’ll be attending by answering Yes, and if you would like to “be in the room” chatting to us about it leave us a comment so we can practice our best hostess smiles!

As always, the recording will be available to view on YouTube shortly after the event so if the time doesn’t suit you (or Thanksgiving means you’re anticipating still being in a food coma then) just catch up later.

Alex Coles

Nov 142014

Blog 14 Nov 2014 - 1

It has been ‘Explore Archives’ week in the UK, with various record repositories running special events. As one-place researchers, we are heavily dependant on the contents of archives of all kinds. All the work that is done to preserve, catalogue, and digitise records depends on the buildings and staff that make up those archives. With the explosion of on-line resources we are less and less likely to visit archives in person. Unfortunately, as we happily access documents on-line in the comfort of our own homes, someone somewhere, with no knowledge of historical research, is making funding decisions based upon physical footfall in our archives. So the more that goes on-line, the emptier the archives become and the results are reduced opening hours, staff redundancies and record office closures.

Aside from the fact that there are so many one-place gems that are not on-line, most archives will admit that they have huge numbers of documents that remain uncatalogued. These are resources that we may need and which will not be available to us in actual or digital form without archives and archivists to bring that about.

Blog 14 Nov 2014 - 2

There are various ways in which we can support archives, even if it is not practical for us to visit in person very often. There are many ‘Friends of’ archives associations that can be joined. Some archives seek volunteer help and this does not always involve being physically present in the building. In the light of threats to archive opening hours and staffing there are campaigns and petitions that we can sign. Our own one-place research can raise awareness of the value of archives. Many of us have websites that are accessed by residents of our places. We could use these to acknowledge the role that local archives have played in our research.

As researchers we are more aware of the value of our archives than most. It is our responsibility to spread that awareness to the wider community. Can we take a little time away from our research in the next few days to show support for the archives upon which we depend?

Janet Few