Category Archives: Researching your family history

Did your relative belong to a #tradeunion #adoptionreunion #searching

We all remember learning at school about the Tolpuddle Martyrs and their importance at the beginning of the trade union movement in the UK. They are still remembered today. Current online databases of union records include a wealth of information useful for anyone searching for a relative with a trade who may belong, or have belonged, to a union.

family history

[photo: alva2634.blogspot.com]

The history of working life can be exciting and the excitement of researching your family tree is not about filling in spaces on a sheet of paper, it is about discovering real people and understanding their lives. If one of your relatives belonged to a trade union you could find out more about their working life, and also the time in which they lived. Searching can be time-consuming, but rewarding.

Here are some UK-based links to get your started:-

The Modern Records Centre – held at the University of Warwick is the UK’s biggest repository of trade union records. Records vary from union to union, and year to year, but includes membership records, records of sickness and unemployment benefits, local branch meetings, social events and even some apprenticeship certificates.

Trade Union Ancestors – it is estimated that more than 5000 trade unions have existed at some time or another, this website includes an A-Z guide of unions, union histories and biographies of union figures.

Working Class Movement Library – as well as trade union histories and records grouped by occupation, this website has a fund of information about working lives such as Object of the Month and personality profiles. The international section includes India and Ireland.

family history

[photo: tuc.org.uk]

London Metropolitan University – this website tells the story of the TUC, the Trades Union Congress, with sections on the General Strike, Match Workers plus three sister websites – Workers’ War, Winning Equal Pay, and the oral history Britain at Work 1945-1995.

For more about the Tolpuddle Martyrs and that pivotal time in the history of the trade union movement, click here.

Trade union membership registers – you can search the three million trade union membership registers at Find My Past. Includes admission books, annual reports and membership lists.

Bishopsgate Institute Library – holds a variety of records, some digitised, including the General Federation of Trade Unions. Includes minutes, annual reports, proceedings, financial reports and copies of the Federation News journal.

This post is inspired by an article in the December 2016 issue of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ magazine.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
The #paternity question
Further information #AdoptionReunion #HelpfulLinks
Where to start your #adoptionreunion search 

family history

Throughout the ‘Identity Detective’ series of novels of adoption mysteries, journalist Rose researches the history of her birth mother and subsequently attempts to trace lost relatives for clients.
BUY

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Did your relative belong to a #tradeunion #adoptionreunion #searching https://wp.me/paZ3MX-3D via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

The #paternity question #researching #adoptionreunion

People have been having affairs – and illegitimate children – since the world began. For me, this means hundreds of story ideas for the ‘Identity Detective’ series. For family history researchers, it presents a big dilemma: whether to believe what the records say. Adultery is notoriously difficult to trace through the records, with many women giving birth to babies whose father is not her husband.

[photo: @SandraDanby]

How do you spot a problem? Look out for:-

Family rumours. Is it spiteful gossip, or is the rumour confirmed from different sources?

Timing. Where was the father nine months before the birth? Did the birth take place a suspiciously short time after the wedding? Why is the paternity questioned?

Physical likeness, does a child look like its father? Not a reliable measure, as often children are genetic throwbacks and resemble neither of their parents.

Is it known that the mother had affairs? Check the divorce records for evidence of adultery.

Are the parents living apart, so suggesting a marriage separation. Check the Census.

A marriage breakdown is often evident in a person’s will, an estrangement may be mentioned. Or there may be a bequest to someone not in the immediate family.

Was the sibling not particularly close to his or her father? And is there evidence of another man being involved in the child’s upbringing; this may be unconscious interest, evident only through the observation of relatives.

If someone on your family tree has a number of these inconsistencies, there may be a case of ‘paternity fraud’. Always approach your research with care and sensitivity for the feelings of relatives.

[photo: @SandraDanby]

This post was inspired by Ed Dutton’s article ‘Who’s the daddy?’ in the May 2016 issue of the UK’s Who Do You Think You Are? magazine. Read more about Ed Dutton here.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Searching British newspaper archives
Researching European records
Where to start your #adoptionreunion search 

Sandra Danby

 

Rose Haldane is confident about her identity. She pulls the same face as her grandfather when she has to do something she doesn’t want to do, she knows her DNA is the same as his. Except it isn’t: because Rose is adopted and doesn’t know it.
First in the ‘Identity Detective’ series.
BUY

Watch the book trailer for the ‘Identity Detective’ series.

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The #paternity question #adoptionreunion https://wp.me/paZ3MX-3m via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

#Researching European records #familyhistory #adoption

If your adoption search takes you to Europe, the prospect of researching abroad may be a little intimidating. The wealth and ease of information varies from country to country, some records are highly digitised but others are slow to go online. Much of it, though, is searchable in English. Here are some places to start.

[photo: geology.com]

At Family Searchthe search/records/research by location facility allows you to choose a specific country. For each location there is an index of collections and some ‘image only’ entries where the original document is photographed. A quick search for Spain revealed a bewildering amount of information, much by Spanish region or city, including births, marriages and deaths, business records and occupations, church history, census, taxation, land and wills. The benefit of starting here is that the Family Search website is in English, allowing you to travel through the relative sections with ease.

Wie Was Wie, or Who Was Who, is a Dutch genealogical site available in English. It has a wealth of information including civil registration certificates, population registers, church books, statements of succession [wills], sea voyages, family announcements in newspapers, military registers, prison and hospital registers. In total, 174 million people feature in the Wie Was Wie archives.

If you are searching for French relatives, visit Geneanet, also available in English. As well as French archives it also has records for other European countries. A quick search revealed grave records from Londerzeel in Belgium; coats of arms searchable by place, name and guild; gravestone inscriptions from Watford, UK; and newspapers from the USA, New Zealand, Algeria and Spain. So far 1,440,447 graves are included in the database and visitors to Geneanet are invited to contribute their own images of gravesones.

For information about Germany, search Compgen. There is a bewildering amount of information here on a rather old-fashioned looking website which requires you to read German. The forum, however, is in English and when I looked included questions on the origin and meaning of the name Heisinger; the Reichsrevolver Model 1883 with a Prussian eagle stamp on the barrel; how to search for living people; and a request for information about a Prussian family, Johann and Charlotte Mordas.

If your foreign ancestor arrived in the UK and settled here, start first with the reader guides at the National Archives. Free guides includealiens’ registration cards, immigration, naturalisation, British citizenship, refugees, foreign affairs and foreign countries. If your research is historical there is even advice on finding records of French lands owned by the English Crown between the 11thand 16thcentury. For further French records, start with the Archives Nationales.

[photo: archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr]

The Danish Demographic Database, in English, allows access to Danish records including census since 1787, probate index, Copenhagen Police Emigration Protocols for 1869-1908 with 217,000 Danish emigrants leaving for abroad. Many additional archives are available only in Danish.

Europeana is a fantastic resource of life and culture in Europe including books, documents, newspapers, art, videos and oral histories from European collections. The photography section features 2.25 million images and now includes 2205 items from the National Library of Spain. As well as this ballet dancer [below] in the art section, there is a considerable archive of World War One images. Europeana allows searching by colour, sources, topics, people and time periods.

[photo: europeana.eu]

If you run up against language issues, remember to try Google Translate. It will translate a word, phrase or passage of text and, if you come across a website without an English language option, simply enter the full web address in the left hand box on Google Translate and click the blue ‘translate’ button.

If you’re searching for relatives and want to search online safely try the Lost Cousins website, which matches you with other people researching the same ancestors. It’s worth signing up for the Lost Cousins newsletter too.

This post is inspired by an article in the May 2018 issue of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ magazine.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
20 top tips to find your missing family
Further information & #HelpfulLinks
Where to start your #adoptionreunion search 

Don’t know where to start investigating your own family history? Try this:-
‘Who Do You Think You Are? The Genealogy Handbook’ by Dan Waddell BUY

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
#Researching European records #familyhistory #adoption https://wp.me/paZ3MX-3e via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

20 top tips to find your missing family #familyhistory #research

You’ve decided to trace your family tree, back through the generations. Easy, it’s just a case of trawling through the Birth, Marriages and Deaths records, right? Sadly it’s not always that straightforward… but there are ways to track down missing ancestors. These are the 20 Top Tips by Who Do You Think You Are?’s TV show genealogist Laura Berry. If you have a family member who is missing from official records, there are numerous possible reasons for their absence. These tips are useful whether you are searching for a relative who died a century ago, or more recently.

[photo: nationalarchives.gov.uk]

1 Ancestors may have used middle names. I don’t have a middle name but Adeline V Stephen, who was christened in 1882, was known by her second name Virginia. She became the writer Virginia Woolf.

2 Check the mother’s maiden name, not everyone was born in wedlock.

3 If you are really stuck, you can post a question on a genealogy forum such as the WDYTYA Forum. Often other forum users may be able to help.

4 Perhaps your ancestor simply moved. Try searching in a neighbouring area.

5 Names were often misspelt, and the mistake is continued down the line.

6 If you are drawing a blank at your favourite genealogy website, try using a different website which may have a slightly different interpretation of the indexing. And don’t overlook paper records.

7 Check overseas indexes. People more around more than you think.

8 Check Local Register Offices, the primary records are kept here and may contain less errors.

9 Focus on the ancestor’s occupation. For example at the The Genealogist’s website it is possible to make census searches by profession making it easier to find someone whose surname has been wrongly noted.

10 Search the Poor Law records. Could your ancestor have disappeared because he/she is in the workhouse [below] on the night the census was taken?

[photo: workhouses.org.uk]

11 Try Parish Registers for baptisms and burials. They are not quite as detailed, but you may find a record that is missing from the indexes. It wasn’t compulsory to register a child’s birth until 1874.

12 You might not find your relatives in the local Parish records, even though the family was Protestant. Instead look at records for more than one denomination.

13 The forces. Men stationed abroad are not included in UK censuses prior to 1911, except the navy. Some men took their family abroad with them, so you may find everyone missing.

14 Look at old maps. Read more here about how I used maps to research the settings for Ignoring Gravity.

15 Search for a will. The national Probate Calendar was compiled from 1858 onwards. It includes the deceased’s occupation, address, next of kin and executors of the will.

16 Consider that your relative may have changed name. You could change your name without making an official declaration, as long as your intentions weren’t fraudulent. But some people changed their name by Deed Poll. Some records are held at the National Archives in Kew, name changes after 1914 were recorded in the London Gazette.

18 Try the online Discovery catalogue at the National Archives at Kew.

19 Read the newspapers. Not just obituaries and the Birth and Death announcements, but also news stories. Read them online at the British Newspaper Archive and Find My Past.

Lady Penrhyn convict ship [photo: Wikipedia]

20 Was your relative a convict? Possibly in prison [prisoners were noted on census returns by their initials] or possibly transported by ship [above] to Australia. Records at the National Archives, Kew.

If you liked this summary of Laura Berry’s feature, check out Who Do You Think You Are?’ magazine for more help. I read it every month.

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Searching British newspaper archives
Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’
Searching the #DeceasedOnline database of #graveyards 

Sandra Danby

 

Watch this interview with Sandra Danby in which she talks about the inspiration for writing identity detective novel Ignoring Gravity, and her curiosity about how family affects our identity. BUY

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
20 top tips to find your missing ancestors #familyhistory #research https://wp.me/paZ3MX-30 via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Further information #Adoption #AdoptionReunion #HelpfulLinks

If you want to take the first tentative step to finding answers about your own adoption story, here are some simple places to start. This list of books includes advice on how to search, autobiographies of people involved in the adoption story, adoptees and birth parents, and true stories of adoption searches. The websites include adoption advice and useful archives. This is a place to start. Your journey will take you into the unknown, only you can take that first step. Good luck.

[photo: salvationarmy.co.uk]

BOOKS

Adoption, Search & Reunion by David Howe & Julia Feast
A Good Likeness by Paul Arnott
Blue-Eyed Son by Nicky Campbell
Relative Strangers: A history of adoption and a tale of triplets by Hunter Davies

The People Finder by Karen Bali
The Adoption Triangle by Julia Tugendhat
The Adoption Reunion Handbook by Liz Trinder and Julia Feast
The Adoption Papers by Jackie Kay
I Belong to No One by Gwen Wilson

[photo @SandraDanby]

WEBSITES

GOV.UK How to access birth records in the UK, what to do if you know your birth details, and what to do if you don’t know the circumstances of your birth. Includes a link to the Adoption Contact Register which enables you to find a birth relative or adopted person, or to say you don’t want to be contacted.
GENERAL REGISTER OFFICE To order UK birth certificates online, go to the General Register Office.
ARIEL BRUCE is a Registered Independent Social Worker who specialises in tracing people affected by adoption. She also helps to trace people who have lost touch as a result of emigration, divorce or other family separations. Ariel Bruce conducts searches in Britain and all over the world and has successfully traced missing family members for over 20 years.
BAAF [The British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering] supplies advice and information on adoption and care issues. Their publication “Where to find Adoption Records” is very useful.
ELECTORAL REGISTER If trying to trace someone for whom you have a name, the Electoral Registers are a useful source of name and address. Check with your local county council.
AFTER ADOPTION is an independent adoption support organisation. Its website has useful links and adoption information. ActionLine is a free telephone helpline on 0800 0 568 578. It is confidential and available for anyone whose life has been affected by adoption – adopted people, birth relatives and adoptive families.
ADOPTION UK UK charity for people affected by adoption, 10,000 members. Providing support, awareness and understanding. Promotes the value of adoption, not so much about adoption reunion.
THE SALVATION ARMY Helps to reunite families through its Family Tracing Service. Telephone 0845 634 4747 or go online and complete an online request for a Family Tracing Service Application Form.

Finding People [photo: salvationarmy.co.uk]

ADOPTION SEARCH REUNION This website, run by BAAF, is a useful starting place in the search for birth or adopted relatives.
FORMER CHILDREN’S HOMES This website is a valuable resource for information about UK children’s cottage homes, former orphanages and other institutions for children plus details of US orphanages and child migration. Information from children’s home registers is going online now.
PEOPLETRACER Checks +300 million online records for named people. Resources include UK Electoral Registers for 2002-2014, births deaths and marriages, and online Telephone Directory.
ADOPTION SERVICES FOR ADULTS Registered social worker Jean Milsted specialises in helping adults affected by adoption. As well as searching, tracing and intermediary services, ASA also offers workshops for adults affected by adoption [adopted people, birth relatives and adoptive family members]. Understanding different perspectives in adoption search and reunion, wanting to know or not, preparing for reunion.

This information is for guidance only and is mostly UK-based. All websites featured include further useful links, so please explore. Sandra Danby does not offer adoption advice or genealogical services.

Read more about family history research here:-
Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’
Searching British newspaper archives
Searching the #DeceasedOnline database of #graveyards 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Further information #Adoption #AdoptionReunion #HelpfulLinks https://wp.me/paZ3MX-2G via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Searching British newspaper archives #familyhistory #adoptionreunion

The days are gone when researching old newspaper articles meant a trip to a library. Nowadays there is a fantastic online resource for anyone trying to trace lost relatives or researching their family tree. The British Newspaper Archive has almost 11.5 million newspaper pages on its archives from the 1700s onwards, across 473 UK newspaper titles.

As part of the research for Ignoring Gravity, I read countless newspaper and magazine articles about adoption, the stories of birth mothers, adoptees and adoptive parents. I tested the BNA database. A random search for ‘Sandra Danby‘ produced three results, none of which were about me. Here are two:-

From the ‘Hull Daily Mail’

May 6, 1950 Hull Daily Mail [above]: Sandra Danby was a principal performer at a concert in Hessle Town Hall, along with Elsie Meek, Sylvia Cowling and Michael Goforth. I’ve made a note of the name Elsie Meek, inspiration for a character name perhaps?

From the ‘Hull Daily Mail’

June 19, 1950 Hull Daily Mail [above]: Sandra Danby from Hessle came second in the Haltemprice Fancy Dress Prize Winners ‘Most Attractive’ section, she was dressed as a Dutch girl. First prize was won by Patricia Partington, who dressed as Bo Peep.

Next, I searched for ‘Rose Haldane’, the name of my identity detective, and had more success with 13 entries, so perhaps not such an uncommon name. Ten of the 13 articles were from Scottish newspapers, here is one:-

From the ‘Southern Reporter’

April 2, 1908 Southern Reporter, Selkirkshire [above]: Rose Haldane of The Grange, presented prizes to the winners of the bulb-growing competition.

Read this post from the BNA’s blog with advice on how to search the archive for a person’s name.

This post was inspired by the article ’50 family history websites to watch in 2015’ in the January 2015 issue of the UK’s Who Do You Think You Are? magazine.

 

Watch the book trailer for the ‘Identity Detective’ series, including Ignoring Gravity and Connectedness.
 BUY

Read more about family history research here:-
Searching the #DeceasedOnline database of #graveyards
Where to start your #familyhistory search
Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’ 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Searching British newspaper archives #familyhistory #adoptionreunion https://wp.me/paZ3MX-2w via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

Approaching adopted teens #adoptionreunion #adoptees

UK charity Adoption UK has appealed to birth families not to contact their birth children, given up for adoption, and now teenagers, via social media without advance preparation. A quarter of the 3,500 adoptive parents questioned in a recent survey by the charity said their adopted teenager had had some form of contact with a birth parent in the past year that was outside a formal agreement. The most common form of contact was social media. adopted teenagers

Established adoption charities said the established adoption practices for contact were no longer working and that a new system for authorised contact between adopted children and their original family was needed. Many adoptive families questioned in the survey said contact with their original family was positive for the child, but 61% said the experience was destabilising and 46% said they were unprepared for the unprompted contact.

Report author and Adoption UK policy advisor Rebecca Brooks said, “Traditional methods of maintaining contact with birth families and adopted families, which is usually a letter exchange once or twice a year, does not prepare families all that well for the unsolicited contact that can occur in teenage years because social media makes it so easy.” Some adopted teenagers are using social media to contact their birth families. adopted children

The Adoption Contact Register for England and Wales is where birth parents may leave their contact details, which may be given to the adopted child on application. In Scotland, contact Birthlink; in Northern Ireland, the NI Direct.

For advice about the searching process and finding emotional, read this advice from the Coram/BAAF Adoption and Fostering Academy

Adoption UK is one of two charities – the other is Home for Good – involved with the new All-Party Parliamentary Group for Adoption and Permanenceformed in February 2019 to give a stronger voice to families involved with adoption, and to develop effective policy and practice.APPG chair Rachael Maskell, MP, said, “This new APPG is a very important opportunity to advocate for some of the most vulnerable children in society and i am delighted to be leading it. adopted children have had a very tough start in life and they deserve the attention of policy makers to ensure they are able to build a better future.”

For more articles about researching family records, try:-
Where to start your #familyhistory search
Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’
Searching the #DeceasedOnline database of #graveyards

Sandra Danby

★★★★★ “I devoured the book in one go, unable to put it down despite the tirade of emotions it brought to the surface”

Start the ‘Identity Detective’ series of #adoptionreunion mysteries with Ignoring Gravity. When you don’t know who you are any more, it’s time to ask questions. Will Rose Haldane like the answers she hears or wish she’d never asked?

#secrets #mystery #family #KU BUY

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Approaching adopted teens #adoptionreunion #adoptees https://wp.me/paZ3MX-96 via #AdoptionStoriesBlog