I received an email from the ancestry website last week informing me that my annual subscription was due for renewal at the end of the month.
I logged into the site to check that my payment method was up-to-date and was amazed to see that I’ve been subscribing to the site since the year 2000.
I started researching my family history in the late 1990s. I was learning to explore the Internet as part of my IT up-skilling as a primary school headteacher. In the process I stumbled upon a database of the 1881 census maintained by the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints.
I was stunned when I began to find records that were definitely my ancestors. Finding the names of the grandparents and great grandparents was very exciting.
I was soon looking for more ancestors.
Then I found ancestry.co.uk;
signed up for a seven day free trial;
found the records of lots more ancestors;
and was hooked!
Over the years I’ve explored the main branches of my family tree right to the most distant twiglet.
And the same for my husband’s family tree; and my brother-in-law’s; and cousin-in-law’s; and even helped a close friend to track down his birth mother and sister.
By 2012 I’d run out of new explorations and was becoming increasingly frustrated with banging my head against the ancestry “brick walls”. But the British Newspaper Archive was live and so I subscribed to that too.
Great! I searched every name in my family tree in the BNA database and although the majority of my ancestors hadn’t done anything newsworthy, a couple of my great grandparents had. And I’ve collected some fantastic stories about them which have helped me build up a greatly enhanced knowledge of the lives of each great grandfather and their families.
One of the best things about the British Newspaper Archive is it keeps adding pages to newspapers already included in the digital records; and new titles are added from time to time as well.
I was delighted when the BNA added the Barnsley Chronicle to the archive and I rushed to re-search my great grandfather, John Henry Buckle. I’d already found reports about him several times in a different local paper such as his involvement with a coal miners’ charitable fund. He appears to have had a well developed sense of civic pride and community responsibility.
Searching the Barnsley Chronicle I was thrilled to find a photograph which included my great grandfather at a presentation for a war hero in the local village during WW1. He is in the centre of the photo and although the image is rather blurry, it still gives a good idea of what my great grandfather looked like.
Meanwhile, back on the ancestry website there’s a reduced price promotion for their DNA testing service. I’m really tempted by this but I’ve read some reports that say the results are very generalised and the information isn’t that good. Also, I’m slightly wary about sending my DNA sample off into the way blue yonder not really sure what’s going to happen to it. If any readers have tried this service I’d love to hear your opinion of it.
I use Family Historian software for collecting all my data and produce family tree documents from that. They are very plain and utilitarian, the complete opposite of this lovely sixteenth century woodcut by Jakob Lederlein.
Thanks for reading my blog today.
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