Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

3 websites to help put your ancestors' lives in context


None of our ancestors lived in a bubble. Their lives were shaped and even completely changed by the world around them.


By exploring our families’ lives in context family history enthusiasts can enrich their research beyond measure.


Professional researcher Kim Cook shows you how to gain a richer knowledge of your ancestors’ lives by focusing on 5 key research elements, along with a wide range of topics to explore within these core areas, in the June 2019 issue of Family Tree.


Here we select 3 handy websites chosen by Kim – some of them free –  that could help you investigate your families’ experiences in context, providing a deeper level of understanding of the events in their lives.


1) British Newspaper Archive (£)
For violent, accidental, or unexpected deaths, search the British Newspaper Archive online (also at Findmypast) for coroners’ and/or inquest reports. If you suspect an epidemic, bad harvests, or freak weather contributed to the death of an ancestor, check local and regional newspapers for records of such events.


2) Old Maps 

Look for old maps, preferably produced at the time ancestors lived there. You might find a map produced by an early cartographer, and there’s a good chance of finding a tithe map, showing local properties, numbered, with their boundaries and owners. Find the National Tithe Maps collection at TheGenealogist.co.uk (£) or, for London ancestors, try the free Charles Booth's London poverty maps site.


3) The Great Storm 

Extreme weather often caused severe disruption to regional economies. In January 1606/7, what is now recognised as a tsunami raced up the Bristol channel. Floods spread inland as far as 14 miles in Somerset: over 350 miles of coast were breached, 2,000 lives were lost, livestock drowned, and land soured.

The Great Storm of 1703 saw a series of gales sweep from west to east across southern England and Wales. Daniel Defoe toured England to collect data on the Great Storm, publishing his report in 1804. It is freely available to read at Archive.org and gives a vivid picture of the effects in the devastated regions.


• Read Kim Cook’s article, Putting your family history into context: 5 key research approaches to enrich your genealogy, in the June 2019 issue of Family Tree – get your copy here.


• Check here to find more expert articles listing Useful genealogy websites!


Back to "Useful genealogy websites" Category

30/04/2019 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

Image is everything: top tips for bringing your family tree to life

In his latest blog for Family Tree, Paul Chiddicks takes us on a visual tour of the various ways in which you ...

FamilySearch celebrates twenty years of helping people find their ancestors online

On 24 May 1999, FamilySearch revealed its first website. Since then the world of genealogy has changed so ...

Gifts for dads who love family history

Read our handy family history gift guide for this Father's Day ...

DNA health & ancestry test launched

Genealogy company MyHeritage has launched a new DNA test offering comprehensive health reports for conditions ...

Other Articles

114 million European birth, marriage and death (and more!) records added to FindMyPast database

More than 100 million records relating to European family trees have been added to the database of genealogy ...

Explore 300,000 records of masters and apprentices with new Merchant Navy records

TheGenealogist has announced the release of 300,000 records relating to masters and apprentices who served in ...

How to trace your docker ancestors - an expert guide

Do you have an ancestor who was a dock worker? In this expert guide Dr Alex Ombler looks at the different ...

Was your ancestor imprisoned for debt? 146,000 new records available online

The Genealogist has announced the expansion of its Criminal Records collection with the release of over ...