Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Thoughts from an British Isles Researcher

I have mentioned several times just how important it is to take the time to research the history of the location and time period of your person of interest.  Glynn Burrows of Norfolk Tours posted something on the Association of Professional Genealogists mailing list that he has allowed me to quote here. He expanded this concept to include the home country of your immigrant ancestors.  I thought you would like to read the thoughts of another genealogist on this topic.

“For me, the study of family history MUST also include local, national and international history too, each person researched is part of the history of their locality, they are almost  always effected personally by things happening in their country and often influenced by what is going on around the world. If we just look at the names and dates, we are not researching family history, we are just building a pedigree.

This was made even more obvious to me when I was researching living conditions during the middle of the C19th in Norfolk, England. Village records were obviously the first places I looked and there were some references in the poor records, charities etc. but not much. The local newspapers were interesting, giving details of houses (in adverts of houses for sale), criminal cases reported and several other articles but the most surprising records, giving reports on the actual conversations with the people in the streets, were in the reports to central Government! National records can sometimes give more detail about life for the poor in Norfolk, than Norfolk records!

For people in the countries where immigration featured greatly in the make-up of their population, it is imperative that the history of those countries that sent the immigrants is looked at. Why did England send hundreds of thousands of poor across the other side of the world in the 1830's and 1840's? Unless you look at world history, you will never understand the whole history of your family.

My own ancestry is entirely from within 50 miles of where I live today and my parents still live in the village where one side of my family has lived since the late C16th, so although I don't need to look at the history of Belle Ewart in Canada, Warwick in Australia or Hingham in the USA for my direct ancestors, I do need to look at them because some local families, including my "aunts" and "uncles" went to those places in the past. What a fantastic reason to learn about the world.”

Excellent, Glynn!  Glynn and I are planning a blog post where I will be asking him questions about research in the British Isles.  I have very little experience in this area so I will be using Glynn to help get good information out to you.  If you have any questions you would like Glynn to answer, please send them to ME

Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

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