My love of family history research

I’ve been carrying out genealogical research for over twenty years and love the buzz of excitement involved in tracking generations of families, linking an ever expanding network of great grandparents through time. My interest began when my paternal grandmother showed me her own grandparent’s original civil registration certificates dating from the 1870s and 1880s. She kept in a tin alongside a scrap of paper with the birth times and dates of her father and his siblings. I now store these in archive conditions alongside other precious items from both sides of my family.

What can I do for you?

Archives have so much to offer. There are the traditional microfilm and fiche machines, alongside sound archives, parish registers, apprenticeship indentures, wills, and all manner of other records. For instance, if your relative attended the Wesleyan Methodist School in Baxenden, Lancashire in the 1880s and 90s, there’s a chance I could tell you when they left school, where they went on to work, and which of the six Standards of Education they had achieved! Through the School’s log books, I could also tell you that on 4 October 1864, one teacher declared that, “…the 2nd Class have nearly forgotten how to do Subtraction!”

Visiting cemeteries and reading inscriptions on gravestones can give us information not only about direct relatives, but their siblings, parents and sometimes other, more distant members who were interred in the same grave. You might be surprised by who is in there, if there was space at the time for ‘just one more’.

I find all families equally fascinating, and I love discovering what the ordinary people of the past have to tell us about themselves. For me, it isn’t only about names and dates, it’s about the greater context of our ancestor’s lives, and how they related to the world around them.


For my MA in History, I specialised in English local history and carried out research into the lives of ordinary people from approximately 1750-1900, broadening my knowledge of families, industrialisation, farming, religion, crime, poverty and urban development during that era. This enables me to look at the bigger picture of the times in which our ancestors lived, and enhances my research

My Masters degree has also taught me that investigating what others tell me is an imperative part of research. As is checking and double-checking finds thoroughly before concluding that a person or historical record is ‘mine’. My love of logic puzzles helps enormously!