Monday, 16 January 2012

Military Monday: Imperial War Museum WebChat

I love the fact that studying my family history has awakened an interest in military history.  It's led my on to my Newquay War Memorial project which has given me more insight into military history.  However, sometimes you should look at it from the other point of view; how can military history and military records reveal more about your family history?

The Imperial War Museum in London
Photo Credit:  WordRidden via Flickr

My own family history research is a case in point.  The military records of two of my great-uncle, held by the Australian national archives, revealed their next of kin; my eldest great-uncle.  From this information we were able to eventually trace his living relatives, my second cousins.  The Commonwealth War Grave Commission records can also help.  They sometimes list parents or a spouse's name plus an address that can help you in your search.  If you are very lucky, your relative may just have one of the surviving UK service records which can hold a wealth of information.

The Imperial War Museum is hosting a live webchat, in association with Gransnet, on Wednesday, 18 January 2012 at 1-2 pm GMT.  Their researcher Mel Donnelly will be passing on her experience during the talk.  You can post questions in advance and there are already a few on the site - here is the link:  Live Webchat with the Imperial War Museum on Researching Family History.

Sadly, I shall be at work during the webchat, but I hope that you get the opportunity to ask a question if you need to, or just listen in if you are interested.
Sunday, 1 January 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Looking Forward to Looking Back

Where Will My Family History Take me in 2012?

Over the last year my family tree has grown tremendously.  It was pretty healthy at the start of the year but has grown in directions I hadn't even thought about at the beginning of the year.  I had it in my mind to explore the Brown side of my family, that being my "main" branch.  However, some lucky breaks have meant that I have also made progress in a branch that I thought had more or less reached its limit, and in another branch that I hadn't really even looked at too much.  In addition, my family history has taken me down a completely different route and made me reassess my life goals generally.

What does this year hold?  Well, last year's experience shows that even with the best laid plans the best outcomes often appear out of nowhere.  I have found several new cousins over the past year and I was only actively searching for some of them.  Three of them were happy accidents, extremely happy accidents, since I now have a photograph of my great-grandparents Alfred Williams and Ellen Jenkins.  One of my other "lost cousins" has provided me with a very precious letter, written by my great-uncle Edwin concerning the death of one of my other great-uncles, Sidney in WW1. I also met one of my found "lost cousins", one of the highlights of my year.  So, 2011 definitely underlined for me the importance of contacting cousins who are lost.  My hunt goes on in 2012 - I will be writing about it on my other family history blog, The Cousin Hunter.

The other unexpected twist to 2011 was that I began to write online to make money.  I started my HubPages project to finance my family history subscriptions and as a way to build a budget for my Newquay World War 1 War Memorial project.  It turns out that I love writing and I am seeing some success.  However, I am well aware that I have created an imbalance - the writing on HubPages and other sites has now taken over.  What began as a sideline to finance my family history has now eaten up all my family history/WW1 research time.  During 2012 I shall be addressing this.  My ideal solution would be to make enough money to quit my day job, write during the day and go back to research in the evenings.  It's a lovely thought, and one that I am giving serious consideration.  Fingers crossed!

2011 has also seen the demise of one of my former goals:  becoming a professional genealogist.  I had thought that I could turn my hand to making a living from researching other people's family history.  This year I have only taken on one commission and whilst I vastly enjoyed the research, I have found that actually I find the typing up a bit boring.  I won't be doing any more family histories, other than my own.  Oh, and one commission would hardly make a living!

I hope to be posting on this blog more regularly in 2012 - I slacked off in the last quarter of 2011, for the reasons above.  I can't wait to see where my family history journey takes me and who I will meet on the journey.  Any detours will be gladly accepted too!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!


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