#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

A #genealogy #mystery ‘Blood-Tied’ by Wendy Percival @wendy_percival

A mysterious beginning with an invalid, threatened by a stranger. Just who is this woman and what is her connection to Esme Quentin? BloodTied by Wendy Percival is the first of the Esme Quentin series of genealogical mysteries.

Esme’s older sister Elizabeth is attacked and in hospital in a coma. Why was she in a town forty miles from home? Did she fall, or was she pushed? And who are the two people in photographs hidden in Elizabeth’s treasured locket? At the start of this story, Esme knows who her family is but once she starts to dig into Elizabeth’s odd accident/attack she uncovers a complicated family history that had me confused at times. This genealogical mystery involves a long-ago family argument, a derelict canal and a feisty elderly lady in a residential home. Esme is a bit like a dog with a bone, she won’t give up despite getting the jitters in the dark of the night.

Two things would have made my reading experience easier. Esme’s history – scar, widow, background as investigative journalist – was thinly drawn so it felt as if I was reading part two of a two-book series. The family twists and turns were such that I was often lost, perhaps because so much was told as Esme discovered paperwork, rather than seeing the action on the page by the characters concerned. That said, the menace builds nicely though I read to the end to find out what happened to Polly, the feisty lady.
BUY

If you like this genealogy mystery, try:-
‘The Blood Detective’ by Dan Waddell
The Seven Sisters’ by Lucinda Riley
‘The Storm Sister’ by Lucinda Riley 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
BLOOD-TIED by @wendy_percival #genealogy #mystery https://wp.me/paZ3MX-38 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

True #adoption story… George Orwell & Son #truestory

The true story of journalist Eric Blair, whose pen name was George Orwell, and his adopted son Richard, could seem fictional. It is certainly sad.

Eric Blair & his adopted son Richard

Eric Blair died in January 1950 at the age of 46. Richard was six years old. Blair and his wife Eileen adopted Richard Horatio at the age of three weeks. It is said that Blair burned the birth parents’ names from the birth certificate. After Eileen’s death, Richard was cared for by a nanny and later by Blair’s younger sister Avril. On Blair’s death, Avril became Richard’s legal guardian.

George Orwell

The effect of the burned certificate on Richard’s attempts to learn more about his birth parents is unknown.

If you like this true story, try:-
Helen Harrison
Bob Macnish
Alice Collins Plebuch

George Orwell

 

Animal Farm by George Orwell BUY

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
George Orwell and son #adoption #truestory #mystery https://wp.me/paZ3MX-2T via #AdoptionStoriesBlog

#FamilyHistory #Mystery ‘The Blood Detective’ by Dan Waddell @danwaddell

I raced through The Blood Detective by Dan Waddell, a hybrid mixture of crime and genealogy mystery. Waddell is also a journalist and genealogist, having written Who Do You Think You Are?: The Genealogy Handbook accompanying the Who Do You Think You Are? television series. So, he knows his stuff and it shows. Usually a crime novel features a lead detective and team, here we have two lead characters: Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster, and genealogist Nigel Barnes.

Dan Waddell

Waddell’s plotting is ingenious. The past really does come back to haunt the present. There is a serial killer in West London who leaves a clue carved into the skin of his victims. This clue prompts DCI Foster to call on the specialist help of researcher Barnes. The murder hunt takes parallel paths: Foster chases living suspects, Barnes searches the archives for the true 1879 story of a serial killer, his victims and their descendants. What is the link? The final chapters are a thrilling race against time.

I really enjoyed this. The linking of historical and present-day crime was clever, and the characterization was convincing and not of the stereotypical detective form. An enjoyable mixture of fast-moving crime novel with genealogical research and historical gems about this particular part of London, its transformation from Victorian times to the 21stcentury, and its dark history of crime. There is a second novel featuring the same characters, Blood Atonement.
BUY

If you like this genealogy mystery, try:-
Blood-Tied’ by Wendy Percival
The Seven Sisters’ by Lucinda Riley
Pale as the Dead’ by Fiona Mountain

If you’d like to share a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE BLOOD DETECTIVE by @danwaddell #FamilyHistory #Mystery https://wp.me/paZ3MX-2P 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