Trials and Tribulations of Researching your Family History

Like many people, my interest in genealogy started when I had time on my hands. I had spent 22 years in the Army and on retirement and a few jobs later, I was at a loose end after being made redundant, I came across a book on Family History. Although not a very good book, it got me interested, and I started to quiz my mother (then in her 80's) and made a few notes. The local history centre (Walsall), was my next call, which happened to be in an old school where I was educated as a child and opposite where I was born.

At this time however, nature took its course in that our daughter gave birth to our first grandson and, having the chance of work, we decided to move to Hampshire and closer to our children. This of course put us further away from the family homeland and the easy access to the local history centre. Family history took a back seat at this point and it was only after purchasing a Family History magazine that I caught the bug again.

When visiting my mother (now in her 90's) I continued the quiz and gained some useful information. If there is one aspect that will save an immense amount of time, I would say, talk to every one of your elderly relatives whilst you can as there is a vast amount of information there waiting for you and once it has gone, its gone.

I also sent out a questionnaire to other members of the family. This turned out to be quite interesting, as many answers where very similar. No, not the data, but "I think you may already have this information from your brother", and "I think someone else has already given you this so I won't bother". I'm certain you've all been there, and if not, why not.

So, reading every magazine I could find and many, many books, I began the long haul of learning a new language, IGI, BMD, SOG, PRO, FHS's and not to mention GOON's. Seeing an advert in one of the magazines I decided to attend the Family History Fair in London. I found it to be a mistake at this point, to much to grasp in one go, just too much information at too early a stage, however, now I wouldn't miss them for the world.

The one good thing was that I left early and went to the Family Records Centre instead. I went just to see what was available and the layout. I must say at first glance it was excellent, but felt like a weight lifter when trying the indexes.

I had by this time purchased software for my computer, and although it had many CD's, could not find one bit of information that was relevant. After entering all the names etc. that I had, the tree didn't look to bad and armed with this, set of again to the FRC. A day well spent and several copies of certificates ordered, which reminds me, must speak to the bank manager.

This is where genealogy really get's interesting, as one of the birth certificates was for my grandfather. My mother had said that his name was Charles Percy Lloyd. I could find no such person in the indexes, but one for a Peter Charles Lloyd. On my fathers birth certificate he was down as Charles Percy Lloyd, but on my parents marriage certificate as Charles Peter Lloyd and on my grandfathers marriage certificate as Charles Percy Lloyd, aged 21, although if the birth certificate is right he was only 18. (My grandmother would have only been 17)

No problem you say, check the census returns. In the 1881 census he is down as Peter C Lloyd, and in the 1891 census as just Charles Lloyd. Dates match, addresses match, and ages agree as much as they ever do. Are these people the same person, I hope so.

After a few years of research I joined the Society of Genealogists and found the information and knowledge tucked away in the Charterhouse Buildings is second to none. Then came the Internet. A little dubious at first as to whether it would be of any help. I have however, found that everyone that I have dealt with has been extremely helpful and have had some good bits of information from around the world. After setting up the website I found I had distant relatives in Australia, Canada and USA.

Some of the Genealogy list are quiet good , although some people do waffle on about non genealogy/family history points (I subscribe to 5, a list can be found on the GENUKI website). Now that the LDS is online, perhaps the sky's the limit. I have in the past spent considerable time filtering through about 36,000 Lloyd names at the LDS history centre on the IGI computer with very little coming from it. However the Family Search page is a different kettle of fish, and I have found it very useful as a starting point.

It would seem that a lot of people are signing up to quite expensive websites to help with their research, however if they go down to their local library and enquire what facilities they have regarding Family History, join and you may get access to for free.

Well there you have a few of the trials and tribulations of someone attempting to research their family history. Some say we are mad, others are not so kind.

I only hope that anyone that has taken the time to read this gets to love it as much as I do now and wish you every success in your endeavours.

Just remember, don't run before you can walk and its all about the facts, just the facts ma'am.

Good Hunting.