Tag Archives: family history research

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

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

Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’ #DNA #familyhistory

Just think how it would revolutionize family history research if a DNA test could tell us which regions of the UK we are descended from. Now a partnership of 100 DNA experts, Living DNA has compiled a database of results from the 2015 People of the British Isles project which created a genetic map of the UK.

uk - projectbritain.com

[photo: projectbritain.com]

The Living DNA test compares a person’s genetic markers with those from 21 distinct areas of the UK, including Cornwall, Norfolk and North Wales. The results are then displayed on an online platform, where there is the option to identify connections with a further 59 worldwide regions. The results are shown on a map with a guide to how far back each component of genetic material comes from; this gives genealogists the chance to verify the DNA findings with traditional paper-based research.

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

Future novels in the ‘Identity Detective’ series will involve the use of DNA to find a missing relative. My heritage is in Yorkshire, my surname shared with a small Yorkshire village. So would my DNA point me to Yorkshire, or elsewhere? Read here about the village of Danby.

Ignoring Gravity by Sandra Danby In Ignoring Gravity, 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:
Genetic map ‘People of the British Isles’ #DNA #familyhistory via #AdoptionStoriesBlog https://wp.me/paZ3MX-1K

Where to start your #familyhistory search #adoptionreunion

People searching for their birth family commonly find themselves researching alongside family historians and genealogists. In the last decade there has been an explosion of interest in the past and where your own family and home fit into 20thand 21st century events. For adoptees this is an intrinsic part of building a picture of the birth family. Piecing together the jigsaw is enriched with information about the place someone lives, their job, the time they lived in, historical events of the time which affected everyone’s lives. There is an immense amount of information easily available online, from official archives to how-to books and websites offering help and support. Some of it is free, some of it is accessible by a small one-off charge, some of the larger databases require subscriptions. It is worth considering joining your local family history society that have membership subscriptions to the biggest commercial archives, but also to network with experienced family historians who understand how to find records.

WSFHS Show Open Day 2019 - photo @SandraDanby

West Surrey Family History Society Open Day 2018 [photo @SandraDanby]

VISIT AN EXHIBITION
Dip your toe into the genealogical waters with a visit to a local event run by your local family history society. Check out the listing at the UK’s Family History Federation. Many have drop-in days for newcomers as well as annual open days and fairs. These are friendly low-key events and are a good opportunity at which to take your first step [above is the Open Day 2018 run by the West Surrey Family History Society].

There are a number of bigger regional and national exhibitions in the UK with a large selection of exhibitors including family history societies, specialist history, archives, family history projects, equipment and software suppliers, fiction and non-fiction.

February
Rootstech, Salt Lake City, USA

April
Family Tree Live, London, UK

June
The Yorkshire Family History Show, York, UK

The Genealogy Show, Birmingham, UK

July
The Family History Show South-West, Bristol, UK

Family History Show at Sandown Park 2018 - photo @SandraDanby

Family History Show at Sandown Park, Esher 2018 [photo @SandraDanby]

August
The London Family History Show, Sandown Park, Esher, UK [above]

October
Rootstech, London, UK

READ A BOOK
Who Do You Think You Are? Encyclopedia of Genealogy: The definitive reference guide to tracing your family history by Dan Waddell BUY
Family History of the Net by Colin Waters BUY
Genealogy: Essential Research Methods by Helen Osborn BUY

BROWSE ONLINE
ANCESTRY.CO.UK UK website, part of the Ancestry.com global network of family history websites. Offers access to 1 billion searchable UK family history records, 9 million searchable records in the global network. Census, fully-indexed birth, marriage and death records, passenger lists, British telephone books, military and parish records. Membership fee. Follow on Twitter @AncestryUK

FAMILYSEARCH.ORG A US non-profit website sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access Family Search services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,600 family history centres in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Follow on Twitter @FamilySearch

FIND MY PAST Start your family tree, online, now. Follow on Twitter @findmypast

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? THE MAGAZINE Subscribe to the UK magazine here, useful resource for starting to research your family tree. Follow on Twitter @wdytyamagazine

FAMILY TREE UK magazine and website. Follow on Twitter @familytreemaguk

FAMILY TREE MAGAZINE USA family history magazine and website. Follow on Twitter @FamilyTreeMag

YOUR FAMILY TREE UK magazine and website.

FAMILY TREE FOLK Supplier of equipment for research including binders, charts, dividers, storage and magnifiers. Follow on Twitter @FamilyTreeFolk

FIND MY PAST Start building your own family tree, online. Follow on Twitter @findmypast

LOST COUSINS 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.

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Where to start your #familyhistory search #adoptionreunion via #AdoptionStoriesBlog https://wp.me/paZ3MX-1w