Helena has been carrying out genealogical research for over twenty years.
Her interest began when, as a child, her paternal grandmother showed her original civil registration certificates dating from the 1870s and 1880s that were kept in a tin alongside a scrap of paper with the birth times and dates of other relatives. She now stores these in archive conditions alongside other precious items from both sides of her family.
Helena spent many hours in the pre-internet era at county archives and Mormon research centres reeling through microfilms searching for a name that might take her one step further in locating a birth, marriage or death of a relative. She loved that buzz of excitement involved in tracking her family back another generation, linking to an ever expanding network of great grandparents, distant cousins, aunts and uncles.
In the early days of the internet she spent holidays meeting third and fourth cousins throughout England, from Lancashire to Cornwall. She also interacted with many excited people who had picked up erroneous relatives in their efforts to find their way through the maze of people who lived in the past and who may have been connected to them. She realised the importance of not taking what others told her at face value, of checking and double checking finds before reaching the conclusion that a person was “hers”. Her love of logic puzzles helped in solving problems when there were two or more candidates for an ancestor.
As she began carrying out research for friends and acquaintances, she knew then that it wasn’t only research into her own family that filled her with excitement. The huge array of people who lived, worked, married and had their own families hundreds of years ago were equally fascinating.
Through her MA in English Local History, she is learning more about the lives of ordinary people from 1750 – 1900, broadening her knowledge of families, industrialisation, farming, religion, crime, poverty and urban development during that era. This enables her to look at the bigger picture of the times in which our ancestors lived, and has enhanced her research experience.
If you’d like to get in touch with Helena to discuss researching your family history, please use the contact form in the first instance.