|OFHS Computer Group Meeting - How Much Can You Do From Home|
This page provides a precis of the topics covered in the talk "How Much Can You Do From Home" given by Alan Simpson, to the OFHS Computer Group meeting on 5th October 2009.
The object of the meeting was not to provide a detailed picture of my own family history but rather, to take examples chosen from my researches, to illustrate the various techniques which others may find useful.
Links To Web Sites MentionedThere are links to all the web sites I mentioned during the talk on the Finding Your Ancestors On The Internet web page (known to its friends as FYAOTI) which is located on the OFHS web site at
Some General PointsDon't Be A Couch Potato. Although you can do a lot from home these days, do not believe you can establish your entire family history that way. You should still visit libraries, record offices, churchyards etc. or you will be missing out on much of the fun that goes to make up Family History.
What Can You Do From Home?
Examples From My FamilyThese show the sorts of techniques that are useful when exploring the lives of "ordinary folk". If you are interested, the results of this research can be seen on my own web site at www.shotover.org.uk/geneal/
A Starting Point for my researches was a letter found amongst my grandfather's papers, written in 1902 by his uncle, a Robert Harold, living on the island of St Vincent, in the West Indies. This exotic location was intriguing but at the time (1994), home internet access was virtually unknown, so it was not easy to carry out research at such a distance.
Fortuitously however, I am an amateur radio enthusiast, so I was able to post a message on an amateur radio message board in the West Indies. After a month or so this produced responses from previously unknown family members in Connecticut and Jamaica. From them I was able to learn a lot about that branch of the family.
The modern equivalent of this is to use internet Mailing lists and Message Boards, such as those found on the RootsWeb web site. You can browse or search the lists to see if there is already a mention of your ancestors and if nothing is found, post a question to the list.
By way of example, I showed a sequence of postings from the Liverpool & South West Lancs
Genealogy mailing list, relating to the Harold family.
Censuses provide a good starting point for families in the 1841 to 1911 date range.
FreeBMD is an excellent way for locating births, deaths and marriages in the civil registration system from 1837 onwards.
Parish Registers are the main source of data for ordinary folk before 1837.
Examples From Local AristocracyShotover was a Royal Hunting Forest and later, a 900 Acre privately owned estate. The examples for this section of the talk were taken from my researches into the former owners of the estate.
Transcriptions of Monumental Inscriptions (from OFHS of course!) are likely to show elaborate monuments for the rich and famous.
By way of example, I took as my starting point the monument in Forest Hill
church commemorating the burial of Thomas James Schutz and his wife Ann,
erected by their successor at Shotover Estate, George Vandeput Drury.
Google can often reveal a plethora of information about the famous. For example:
Newspapers are another very useful source for the family historian. These can often have extensive articles about the activities of the famous (as well as birth,death and marriage entries for some of the less well known). A recent partnership between Gale and the British Library has made available on-line The Times digital archive covering 1785 to 1985 together with an extensive collection of 19th century local newspapers, including a full 100 year run of Jackson's Oxford Journal.
In some areas you may need to visit your local library to access these, but several counties, including Oxfordshire, permit library members to access the collection from home, using your library reader's ticket number as a password.
Locating the "Source" of A RiverTime did not permit going into any detail about my researches into the source of the name of the Shotover River in New Zealand, but if you are interested, the results of these researches can be read on my own web site at www.shotover.org.uk/history/nz.htm
|Last updated 2009-10-10|
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