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Tip of the day...Think of the future

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ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


Jonesey Report 30 Oct 2009 08:30

It is a sad fact but 20 or so years after we shuffle of this mortal coil most of us will be but a distant and rapidly fading memory. All the hours and effort we are now expending researching our ancestors will die with us unless we preserve it in some way in a form that our descendants can recognise and understand. If all we leave behind is a thick file containing some certificates, scribbled notes and perhaps some printouts of census records then chances are that this will be discarded along with most of the other ephemera that we have managed to accumulate along life’s highway.

My tip today is to think of the future. Take some time to convert what you have learnt about your own family history into something that your children and perhaps their children can understand and appreciate. Turn those facts into a story or document chronicling their ancestors including yourself. Add flesh to the bones so to speak. What you create need not be a contender for a literary prize just something that is readable and interesting. In other words something that they will want to keep and treasure.

I guess that whilst we have been on this quest to discover our roots that at sometime we have all wished that we had asked our mother or father some question or other, I know I have. Now could be your chance to answer the questions your children may never get round to asking.

Start doing it today for as we all know, tomorrow never comes and even if it did, it may be too late anyway.


Jilliflower Report 30 Oct 2009 08:38

Oh dear, uncle Jonesey, you have been looking through my papers!!!
Once more you have inspired me to get cracking on that sorting and ordering of all the 'bits' I have.
I have begun the story of the Phelps family - with a little bit of imagination added to make it readable - but the facts are all researched and accurate.
THanks again and again for the prods and advice.


Wildgoose Report 30 Oct 2009 09:36

I think my work could be understood by anyone who took up the reins BUT my biggest problem is that my grown up children aren't that interested!

It's a family joke that I can turn just about any conversation towards the past.

It's getting embarrassing. I shall keep up the searching and if anyone wants it it's there to be found.

EDIT There is a question that I should like to ask my maternal grandmother. How did you know 'Aunt LIzzie' who sent you a Christmas card in 1919? Did you know she was my father's great great aunt??? :-)


InspectorGreenPen Report 30 Oct 2009 10:44

Distinct lack of marriage certificates could prove interesting....!

Gwyn in Kent

Gwyn in Kent Report 30 Oct 2009 10:44

When my aged Mum died in 2006 part of the 'healing' for me was to take my grandson to Wales to visit the places Mum knew as a child and where I had spent so many happy childhood holidays.
Dates and facts probably meant little to him, but to actually see the villages and try to visualise his great grandmother's journey as she trudged through the channel of snow to the bakers perhaps helped to fix some sense to what she had told us.
I think it made an impression, because he has asked to go back to Wales several times since then and always enjoys his visits.

To walk where his ancestors walked has certainly added to his sense of belonging to a larger family.



Kathlyn Report 30 Oct 2009 10:48


Thank you for that prod.....yes I have started, but then I find something that needs checking and off looking.

I have started about 20 times and each time screw the paper up because I have thought of a different way to approach it....

Do I deal with each branch first???

Do I integrate marriages as they happen????

Where can I buy wallpaper 20 yards wide????

BUT...Yes I will start today...yes I will start today....yes I will start today.


Jonesey Report 30 Oct 2009 11:10

Where can I buy wallpaper 20 yards wide???? Like it.

A friend of mine who is researching into his family background has had his family tree printed out more than once by Ron at Genealogy Printers. The latest printed version is about 33 feet long.

He recently staged an exhibition at a hotel up in the part of Lancashire where his ancestors first came from. He had a bit of a problem though because the hotel did not have an uninterupted wall long enough on which to display it.

Teresa With Irish Blood in Me Veins

Teresa With Irish Blood in Me Veins Report 30 Oct 2009 13:03

Jonesey.....your words are so true!

I have more or less come to a standstill in tracing my ancestors and that of my husband's so a couple of years ago I started to write a brief history of them.

One for each main surname!

Nothing too elaborate..just details of BDM's where they were found on each census records from 1841 up to 1911.

As the years have gone by I have obtained photo's of my Grandparents siblings and their descendants too. Also discovered other family info and snippets of their lives from second cousins, which I have added.

As my Mum was born in Dublin, Ireland only a couple of my cousins were interested in their origins...which was very disappointing for me as I have obtained so much info on our family's origin.

However, after getting in contact with another cousin recently, who lives in Scotland, he wanted to know about our family history.

Needles to say I emailed him my various 'History of the xxxxx Family documents and after taking them on a visit to his sister she has asked for them to be sent to South Africa where her nieces and nephews live.

My cousin also put me in touch with one of his newphews who lives in Northern Ireland now ...... so he has copies of my documents too.

I have found loads of second cousins in the USA, Australia, England, Wales and in Dublin who I have shared my family history with and I know some of their grandchildren are delighted to find out their family history too.

It gives me a great thrill to know that my hard work....and expense... is going to be passed down the line.

I have 2 grown up children but only my daughter is interested in genealogy so she will be left with all the original info that I have found. I just hope she will have room to keep all the bulging files!

Last Christmas I sent my English family history to several cousin too. I was amazed to find out that some of them never even knew our Grandma's surname never mind anything else! LOL!

So get writing everyone.

Start off with just the basic info and then you can add any interesting stories as you come across them.

I must admit, the biggest thrill of all was to receive photo's of my grandparents siblings and their descendants...especially the Irish as I never knew that my Irish Grandparent's came from such large families. Being Catholic's I knew the possibility was very high though!



Wildgoose Report 30 Oct 2009 13:07

Barry - how sad! My lot are much the same. They took a passing interest when I found our 'murderer's' case in the paper. It was Manslaughter; he did it but got away with it.

They read, or said they did, great Uncle Fred's asylum records.

They wondered how great granddad managed to spend an absolute fortune in ten years.

Apart from that, no interest at all.

I have hopes for my grandson but he can't talk yet, never mind read :-)


Christine Report 30 Oct 2009 15:58

My own children are fairly interested, although my OH is very disparaging. I have done his family as well (its a 2nd marriage) but he always asks "did they have any money?"

However, my step-grandson who is 3 is being brought up solely by his mother. His father lives abroad and knows nothing about him. Maybe one day he'll catch up with that side of his family, but I thought if nothing else he'll have a good long English heritage to look back on - to the year 1600 on one branch!


Madmeg Report 30 Oct 2009 16:21

Now listen up, Birdsinanest, Barry and David.

All your research is valuable and someone, somewhere, will find it so in the future.

It isn't only about documenting stuff either. It's about meeting people.

During my research I found a cousin that my OH had no knowledge of. We made contact. I told him of my hobby and he came up with mounds of old photos (he used to be an amateur photographer with his own darkroom), and lots of stories. I discovered he had appeared on This is Your Life and he gave us a copy of the tape - now on DVD. For his 89th birthday I presented him with a copy of my work so far, and he was delighted to have it, warts and all, so much so that he asked me to do similar for his wife, and then her cousin wanted me to research her late husband, so I have already given great pleasure to 3 old people - and made friends of two new families.

Another gem was discovering a previously unknown aunt of my husband and finding another genes member with her in her tree. That led to us pairing up to piece together the family of her husband who never knew his origins. Her husband was also related to the elderly cousin I mention above, which resulted in a lovely reunion for us all.

So carry on with the hard work, the rewards will come.



AnninGlos Report 30 Oct 2009 16:44

My immediate family are 'a little bit' interested, sometimes they humour me but usually they are interested, I am unsure about the grandchildren. However, I am fortunate in that in all branches of my own and my husband's tree there is at least one cousin (first and second etc) who are interested, so somewhere our family histories will be carried on.

One thing, those of you who have nobody interested, have you checked with local family History Societies if they would be interested in having a copy of your records?


Audrey Report 30 Oct 2009 17:00

To all of you who despare at your children and families not being interested in your research, take heart and do not give up on it. As a child and into my middle age I grew up on parents and grand parents trying to tell me of stories of their childhood etc. and I admit at that time thinking 'oh goodness here we go again' and shutting off. Then one day 4 years ago, just after my retirement, a chance remark set me wondering if there was any truth in our family joke that we all had the 'De Worm' nose I set out on my journey to discover if there was a link. It has been a fascinating time and alas we are not related to Baron De Worm and the Rothschilds only to a deported convict called Isaac Worms!!
So now when I see the same glazed look come over my famillies eyes when I talk about old Isaac as I used to have, but am not discouraged and have started to write it all up with the documents etc. I have, just in case they reach 60 and suddenly like me become interested! I have included anecdotes of my childhood and my families life the at least they wont be saying as I do many times, I wish I could have a cuppa with my Mum today I can't remember what she said about ......



Wildgoose Report 30 Oct 2009 17:21

Thanks, Madmeg; I'll carry on (puts soggy hankie back in my sleeve)

My husband's cousin is interested but not interested enough to join in the fun.

I did get a bit cross with one of my cousins; I posted off copies of our grandparents' orphanage records to him as it would have taken ages to scan them all. About 2 weeks later I emailed him to ask if he'd received them and he came back with 'Sorry, been busy. Yes, very interesting papers, aren't they. Thanks'

THAT made me wish I hadn't bothered. The records had cost me £25. I didn't want any money but a bit of enthusiasm would have gone a long way. GRR>>>


Jilliflower Report 30 Oct 2009 17:33

All those people who despair of their work being preserved for posterity -
Anyone clearing out the house of a deceased might accidentally or on purpose throw away lots of old files and papers.
But now you can go on line and have a hard back or soft back BOOK made of all your research with photos of family and places and documents at no greater cost than a few measley old certificates and subscriptions have cost us in the past..
I have seen two of these books of a special holiday or tour and they are stunning.


Kate Report 30 Oct 2009 17:50

That is a great idea, to put it in a book, Jill - I got a big spiral bound notebook last Christmas (A4 sized, with Eeyore on the front!) and I use it for any random notes I want to make. I even copied out a distant (long dead) relative's will after I bought the PDF file from the National Archives, to make sense of the old writing, and I copy out my records office findings into it, too.

My grand plan as far as passing on my research is to make some kind of write-up for each family line and print it out into a book (possibly I will bind it), and - if I don't end up having a family - I will live until I find a younger cousin somewhere along the line who is interested, and then I'll give them what I've found as a starting point!


Michael Report 30 Oct 2009 17:57

I was determined to put all the research,facts,certificates into something readable for my little grandsons to see when they are older. I realised that there will never be a "good time " to write it down because as you all know discoveries come at the least expected times!
For myself I realised that a grand family history was beyond me. Instead I decided on a pruned down version. I started with a couple of general chapters about my dad's family origins and mum's family and then wrote little biographies dealing with one person at a time, eg parents. grandparents, some great grandparents that attracted my attention and a great uncle who had a particularly interesting life!
Once all down on disc with some photographs, I had it printed privately. There are any number of digital printers who will do you one copy or a dozen at affordable prices. I had a dozen done so I hope a couple will survive!
I am now working on the next batch of interesting ancestors for the second book, who knows, it my be a series!
Joking aside I am pleased just to have made a start at what seemed a daunting task.


Mike S

Ps If a retired electrician can do it anyone can,go for it!


Jilliflower Report 30 Oct 2009 18:00

Go for the professionally done book with glossy photos and quality paper and bindings, Kate - once you have got all the "stuff" together apparently it is easily done to get it printed. I'll find out the site and cost later if I can.


Madmeg Report 31 Oct 2009 01:20

Audrey, what a laugh!!!!

Jillian, you have to tell us what this site is, cos I want all mine done properly.



Battenburg Report 31 Oct 2009 03:36

I have a wonderful book before me that belongs to my son in law.

Its the history of the Norton family from Ruislip and Uxbridge Middlesex to Penzance to New Zealand 1600-2000.

The writer Lynn had help from Jeff Robinson of King Alfred School London for his meticulous research and photo's of houses the family owned and crypts the family are buried in.
She had other help from various people helping with Uxbridge Yeomanry.
The list goes on.
Lynn also spent 8 weeks in England researching at the Ruislip library which is in a 16th century converted barn
Lynn included in the book letters written from Uxbridge in1780 -1785 of James Scott to his daughter Nancy( Anna Maria Norton). The original letters are in Hillingdon public library.
The information in them is a treat naming various people unrelated to the family . General gossip in other words as well as information about what was happening in the morning paper.

She also included letters written in 1889 from Matilda Norton of Norton House Penzance to her brother Walter Norton who came to New Zealand giving details from baptisms taken from the family bible. Matilda was also surprised that Walters wife was not baptised and that the marriage would not be recognised unless she was.
Matilda urged Walter to get his wife baptised and speak to a priest who might be able to make the marriage valid without a fuss.
She had to wonder at the Church of England clergyman performing a marriage without baptism first.
( Might be the reason we sometimes see adult baptism)

This wonderful book includes maps of the country showing the areas the family came from. (Important for those in NZ who dont know the area's).
Also comments from different Norton family members about their lives and childhood memories.
Eg:How hard life was ,food they ate,health problems etc

It included all the names the Nortons married into as well as modern family ,weddings,photo's etc including my daughter and son in laws wedding.
I guess Lynn was lucky that the Norton family were prominent so there was quite a bit about them known including owning a bank and a corn mill. Unfortunately Walter was written out of the will because he didnt marry a catholic. He didnt inherit land that should have gone to the eldest son

It cost my son in law $100 to buy.The book is nearly 2 inches thick ,hardback with a dust cover. Well worth the money.
It means more to me than him so I am holding onto it for a while and keep referring back to it.

Wish it was my family