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Friday, 31 May 2013

Older relatives + newer technology = Great genealogy!

I spent last Saturday morning visiting three great aunts and some cousins who I don't see very often. The three aunts were my late nan's sisters and since she died two years ago, I hadn't been to see them. Not because I didn't want to, but because I knew that seeing them together would be hard, knowing that my Nan was missing.

And it was hard at first seeing them all together and feeling like Nan should be there too. But you know what? After about ten minutes it wasn't hard any more because they had memories of her, and memories of when they were young and memories of people who I only know as names on a tree. It was actually really fantastic - not only to see them and reconnect with them, but also to talk to them about family history and ask some questions!

I did a PowerPoint presentation of their mum and dad's branches of the tree complete with pictures of places I have visited and census pages on which they could see their parents and grandparents, and they seemed to really enjoy it. I also took my trusty FlipPal along and scanned some old photos they had, and showed them some old photo I had uncovered from various other sources on my ipad.

I realised during my visit just how well older people and technology works when it comes to genealogy; places long visited in person are just a few clicks away on Google Streetview, and there are forums of people wanting to share memories on neighbourhoods, schools and decades. I wish I had realised all of this when my Nan was still here, but to be able to share it all with her sisters was really nice.


Me, my little sister and our three great aunts :-)

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Thursday, 2 May 2013

Finding living relatives is fun too!

As my mum and her siblings had very little knowledge of their maternal grandparents, I recently decided that it would be a good idea to cast the net wider and involve some of her cousins. The only problem with this course of action was that my mum had “lost touch” with her cousins some years ago (before I was born), so I only had the names she had provided me with to go on. Or that’s all I thought I had to go on until one day I mentioned that I would start to look for them and she said “You won’t have to look too far for Mac, he’s on Facebook”! A quick look on her Facebook friends and there was the said cousin, along with two of his sisters. Three “new” relatives in under a minute!

I contacted my mum’s three cousins, and one of them (Janet) immediately messaged me back to say that it was nice to hear from me and did I know that Margaret (another cousin) had done lots of family history research and had got back to 1745?! Of course I didn’t know this, but it was music to my ears and the cousin said that she was sure Margaret would like to hear from me. I was reluctant to just call Margaret out of the blue as I didn’t want to intrude, so I asked the cousin who had messaged me if she could pass on and let her know that I was researching the family.

The next day I had a call from Margaret, who was really lovely and was able to tell me lots of info on the family and the places they had lived. This meant I was able to confirm that what I knew was correct as well as learn some new stuff. She has been researching the family tree for years! She said she had lots of documents and photos, and would copy some to send me to get me started on our shared branch of the family, and that I could call her any time and wasn’t intruding!

This week, a week after my telephone conversation with Margaret, I received an envelope in the post jammed full of family history info. Copies of documents and certificates, copies of photos of people I had been unable to put a face to, print outs from emails and a hand drawn family tree with scribbles added over time. It was the best post I have opened in a long time!

Sorting through the info that arrived by post from distant cousin Margaret!
I think it is going to take me a loooooooooong time to go through all the information and process it but I am so happy to have so much info to go on and also so touched that someone who has never met me can be so helpful in my quest for family history!

And the best bit? I’ve found some new relatives to keep in touch with and share my research with! In a hobby that involves spending an awful lot of time dealing with dead relatives, it is nice to find some living ones every so often J

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Follow me on Twitter - @FamilyTreeNat