Tracing your family history is a fascinating hobby and it is growing in popularity. So much information is being added to online databases that is now easier than ever before to research the past.
Not so long ago researchers had to visit all kinds of locations such as parish churches and record offices in order to compile the basic details. Now it is possible to build a family tree online using just a little seed information and planting that into some online tools for family history research.
Personal visits to the source of the data is still worth the effort. Facts can be cross checked, but most of all there’s no substitute for seeing and handling the original record and perhaps soaking up the atmosphere of the house, the church, or the graveyard. Part of the attraction of tracing family history and immersing oneself in the genealogy of a family tree is the sense of touching the past and realising how close it is to us in the present.
Family History Legacy
Some may think there’s no point or someone else in the family should do it, but it doesn’t have to be a mammoth task that becomes a chore. You can do as little or as much as you want. You can concentrate on your immediate family only or build a large tree with as many branches as you can manage. You can spend a few days in intensive activity then put it aside for months while your own life unfolds.
The important thing is to start. As your elderly relatives age and eventually pass away so much can be lost. That box of photographs left in a cupboard for several decades are of no use to the next generation if they don’t have the names and basic details of the people photographed. An afternoon spent with a relative asking them to name the people in the photographs and writing those names on the back of each one will not only benefit you, but will also leave vital clues to anyone who picks up the task in the decades ahead.
Start with yourself and add your immediate relatives. Ask the senior members of your family to recall events and to name the people in any photographs that you don’t recognise. Perhaps you can record your conversation on a mobile phone or film it so that the record is preserved for the generations ahead.
Storing Family Photographs
So much of our modern world is recorded on digital media. Every event, from the most trivial to the most significant, is often captured on camera, but much of it lies unobserved on a hard drive. Some of it is shared on social media but it is soon replaced and forgotten.
Once it a while it’s worth spending a few hours sorting and categorising. Choice images can be copied into your family history folder. Naming the sub folders and the filenames logically will make research easier in the years ahead.
Your older relatives will have many photographs that need to be scanned into digital copies. They may be in delicate photo albums and the photographs themselves may be faded, yellowed, and easily damaged. Treat them carefully and consider the value to your project of having choice photographs restored.