3 free websites for digging deeper into your family history
Our ancestors did not only leave traces of their lives within the records and documents found by family history researchers in archives. Every generation leaves an impact and a legacy that can be discovered through a multiude of sources and projects that might not automatically spring to mind for the average family historians.
Thus family history research is just one means by which we can gain an insight into our personal past. Equally important is the genre of history itself, and for the family historian, perhaps local history is the field that genealogy enthusiasts should focus our eyes upon most keenly.
In the December 2018 issue of Family Tree, professional genealogist Chris Paton explores some of the parallel discliplines that can really help with your genealogical research, such as local history, archaeology, academia and DNA testing. He's come up with fantastic suggestions of free websites to visit, which are full of resources for family historians.
Here we've picked out 3 of our favourites for you to try (we've actually sneaked in a 4th, which is too good not to share!):
1) Local history: The Statistical Accounts of Scotland
These were accounts written of every parish in Scotland by ministers of the Kirk in the 1790s and the 1830s/40s (a later account, not available online, also exists for the 20th century). They note basic details about the parishes in question: the industries that were followed, the religious denominations present, the names of key landholders, the topography of the area, and even the nature of the inhabitants themselves. Rarely do they name our ancestors, but they help to provide a descriptive tapestry onto which we can plot the stories of those we find in our trees. In England, the closest equivalent is probably the Victoria County History series, which can be equally useful.
2) Archaeology: British Archaeological Jobs and Resources
There are lots of archaeological projects that can shed light on areas where your ancestors once lived. If you want to find out more about the archaeology of an area of interest, the British Archaeological Jobs and Resources site has an interactive map showing where many societies exist as well as resources, news and learning opportunities.
3) DNA: University College London Molecular and Cultural Evolution Lab
There are many DNA-based academic projects in existence that try to tell the story of how we as a species have migrated to regions worldwide across time. One example is University College London, which has its Molecular and Cultural Evolution Lab investigating the demographic history of various populations and ethnic groups in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
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Enjoy widening your research horizons, you'll be pleasantly surprised at the wealth of resources on offer that can be a real boost to your family history research. You can read Chris Paton's article about how to widen your genealogy research interests in the December 2018 issue of Family Tree, on sale 23 October 2018.
Get the full low-down on DNA testing for family history at Family Tree Live, taking place at Alexandra Palace on 26-27 April 2019! Find out more here.