Two family history projects to get 2021 off to a great start!


11 December 2020
Safe to say that 2020 wasn’t the year that any of us had planned it to be, but let’s turn the page in our diaries, and look forward to 2021, writes Family Tree editor Helen Tovey.


Take stock

Spend a little while assessing your research so far and draw up a list of areas you need to work on:

  • Have you found the bookend dates (births, deaths, and marriages too) for the people on your family tree? While family history is of course more than dates, these dates are invaluable anchors so well worth tracking down.
  • Are there brick walls that you’ve been meaning to tackle?
  • Are there branches of your family tree that you’re keen to fill out?
  • Are there record collections that you need to explore more fully?
  • Do you need to label your family photos and scan in the originals?

Draw up a list of things you’d like to accomplish: include a title for the task you have in mind, the date you start the project and – when completed – the date you finish it. Keep this list somewhere you’ll see it to remind you of your goals for 2021. Decide: what is it that, a year from now, you’ll look back on and wish you had started today?

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Dig deeper

As family historians we ‘collect’ a vast number of ancestors, and it can be all too easy to flit from one to another. Would you like to set a project to enrich your understanding of their lives? Perhaps set a project to learn about one of your ancestor’s homes, or one to investigate their line of work. Allow yourself that time to immerse yourself in it and you may be amazed at what you’ll uncover.

Undertaking a more indepth look at their lives will lead you to looking at a wider range of records than you might usually do, and reading around the subject will take your learning further – both tasks that help us to become more knowledgeable family historians.

Extracted from Helen Tovey's project guide published in the January 2021 issue of Family Tree magazine, available now.