Genealogy research – a step by step guide to making the most of your family tree, part 6
In the final part of our series, genealogy expert Mary Evans shows how the festive season can provide new research possibilities for your family tree, as you enjoy Christmas with relatives you might only see only once a year.
If you have… half an hour
Approach your research from a different angle. Curious Fox lets you search for your ancestors by place. Every county, town and village in the UK has a page for family history, local history, surname and genealogy enquiries. You can find the place you are interested in using the search box then browse the posts for that particular place. You can post your own enquiry, too.
If you have… a couple of hours
A search on terms such as ‘Victorian Christmas’, ‘Christmas traditions’ and ‘Victorian Christmas cards’ brings up some interesting websites such as Historic UK, Christmas Traditions and Scrap Album. It’s interesting to have a glimpse of our Victorian ancestors’ Christmas and to find out where some of our own traditions have come from. Books written at the time – Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – can also give an insight.
If you have… half a day/a whole day
Christmas is the time for family gatherings so if you will be getting together with elderly relatives don’t forget to make the most of the opportunity to ask them about the family. It’s not just the facts and figures that you want – you can often get those from the records. What can’t be found so easily once the people are gone is the ‘flesh on the bones’ anecdotes and the atmosphere of times gone by.
If you’re not going to be seeing the family over the festive season, take time to make a telephone call during the holiday. Your relative will appreciate the call and you will hopefully be able to fill in a bit of the family tree. Plan ahead – is it an elusive name or date that you want or do you want to ask them how they celebrated Christmas when they were young? The person in question will hopefully also be interested to hear about your recent research.