Newsletter - 5th March 2015
Free access to Findmypast this weekend! ENDS NOON MONDAY
LostCousins is completely FREE this weekend ENDS TUESDAY
Every photo tells a story COMPETITION
The LostCousins newsletter is usually published fortnightly. To access the previous newsletter (dated 27th February) click here, for an index to articles from 2009-10 click here, for a list of articles from 2011 click here and for a list of articles from 2012-14 click here. Or use the customised Google search below (that's what I do):
Whenever possible links are included to the websites or articles mentioned in the newsletter (they are highlighted in blue or purple and underlined, so you can't miss them). If one of the links doesn't work this normally indicates that you're using adblocking software - you need to make the LostCousins site an exception (or else use a different browser, such as Chrome).
To go to the main LostCousins website click the logo at the top of this newsletter. If you're not already a member, do join - it's FREE, and you'll get an email to alert you whenever there's a new edition of this newsletter available!
Free access to Findmypast this weekend! ENDS NOON MONDAY
From noon (London time) on Friday 6th March until the same time on Monday 9th March you will be able to access ALL of the historical records and newspaper articles at Findmypast.co.uk - whether they're British, Irish, American, Canadian, or Australasian!
This is a great opportunity to fill in some of the gaps in your family history, and to track down your collateral relatives, whether they remained in Britain or travelled to the other side of the world. Just follow this link and start searching!
Note: although you'll need to register at Findmypast.co.uk if you haven't previously done so, you WON'T be asked to provide credit card or bank details.
There's only one way to get the best results from Findmypast, and that's to search individual record sets rather than searching collections of similar records. This applies whether you're a beginner, or - like most LostCousins members - a highly-experienced researcher.
Why is this so important? Because different record sets contain different information: sometimes that's because the source records vary (for example, the 1841 and 1911 censuses are very different from the other years), but it can also be because the records have been transcribed and indexed differently. Findmypast have transcriptions from many different sources thanks to their connections with family history societies, FamilySearch, the Society of Genealogists, and their acquisition of other websites (most recently Origins).
To allow for this variety different record sets have different search forms - whereas when you search multiple record sets simultaneously you inevitably have to make do with a compromise.
To get the same astounding results that I get from my searches all you need to do is choose A-Z of record sets from the Search menu, then navigate to the record set you need. Rather than ploughing all 1600 of them type in a word (or part of a word) that appears in the title of the record set - for example, 'staff' if you want to search the Staffordshire parish registers, 'canter' for the Diocese of Canterbury parish registers, or 'army' to see a list of army record sets.
Tip: there will be occasions when you have to search collections I order to find out which of the record sets are relevant - but I suggest you switch to searching individual record sets once you've identified which are of interest.
LostCousins is completely FREE this weekend ENDS TUESDAY
LostCousins is also free this weekend, and the good news is that you've got an extra 36 hours to enter the data you've collected at Findmypast, because my offer doesn't end until midnight on Tuesday 10th March.
As you find relatives on the 1841, 1881, and 1911 censuses it make sense to enter them on your My Ancestors page straightaway, so that I can link you with the other members - your 'lost cousins' - who have already entered them. Simply click the Search button and the LostCousins computer will automatically check every entry you've made against the millions of entries made by other members.
Tip: it doesn't matter if your new-found cousins don't reply before midnight on Tuesday - as long as you have initiated contact during the offer period (by clicking 'Make contact' on your My Cousins page), you'll be OK.
Of course, you won't always get an instant match - somebody has to be the first person to enter a particular relative - but once you've entered your relatives your cousins will be able to find you (and you only have to click the Search button to look for matches all over again).
Tip: the 1881 census is the one that's most likely to link you to your 'lost cousins', and you'll get most matches when you enter the members of your ancestors' extended families - their brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Englandís Immigrants 1330-1550 is a fully-searchable database containing over 64,000 names of people known to have migrated to England during the period of the Hundred Yearsí War and the Black Death, the Wars of the Roses and the Reformation.
One of the greatest benefits that comes from finding other family historians whose interests overlap with ours is that, because they've started from a different point, they'll see things differently. Unfortunately this differing perspective often makes it more difficult for us to communicate with them - our priorities and theirs may not coincide, and their objectives may not be the same as ours.
It's important, therefore, that you get off on the right foot - otherwise you might think they're not interested and they might think you're a timewaster. Here are some suggestions that you might want to consider.....
Don't try to make contact too soon
When you click 'Make contact' on your My Cousins page an email is generated automatically which includes details of the entries that you share. The more shared entries the more attention this email is likely to get - so instead of trying to make contact immediately, why not spend a few minutes entering other family members that might match.
Look for common ground
When you first make contact with someone new, try to work out what your common interests are, so that the information you give them will be relevant, and any questions you ask them are meaningful - not to you, but to them.
For example, if you've discovered them through LostCousins, your first step should always be to look at the list of relatives you share and how the two of you are related to each of them. Indeed, you'd want to do this however you'd found them - however LostCousins is the only site that makes it so easy.
To view the list of relatives you share simply click the other person's name or initials on your My Cousins page. This will display the My Contact page for the relationship, eg:
In this example I can see immediately that my cousin is descended from George & Emma Thurgar, so it will make sense to mention them, and how I'm related to them, in my initial communication - I'm much more likely to get a prompt response that way.
Sometimes the person you're connected with only be related to you by marriage - however, since you'll both be related to the living descendants of that marriage it's still worth following up (some of my most useful connections have been people who aren't cousins of mine, but whose tree nevertheless overlaps with mine).
Try to see things from the other person's point of view
It's natural to want to get answers to the questions that have been bugging us for years - but it would be extremely unlikely that those questions are also at the top of the other researcher's list. Even if the other person has the answers you're seeking, they probably won't have them on the tip of their tongue - it will take time to look through their research, and they may not have the time.
It's far better to ask a question that the other person can answer without resorting to their files, even if that means asking them a general question such as "How long have you been researching your family tree?".
Don't make it one-sided
LostCousins is a site where researchers help each other - there has to be give and take. This means it's better to give a little bit of information at a time so that the other person doesn't have to spend too long writing their response.
Are you even related?
Sometimes you'll be matched with someone who isn't a relative of yours - not because the matching has gone wrong (so far that has never happened) - but because at least one of you has entered people who aren't your relatives. There are all sorts of sound reasons why you might do this, but it does mean that the connection will initially seem less interesting - so if you're the person who has entered non-relatives, start by explaining why you did it, and what you are hoping to learn.
Although family history might be the most important thing in your life, the reality is that for most people there are other priorities to consider. About half of LostCousins members are retired, but that still leaves half who aren't - and these days there are plenty of retirees in their 60s and 70s who are still caring for their parents. So don't assume that the other person is going to drop everything in order to provide you with the information you're seeking.
Consider collaborating on future research
None of us can research all of our family lines on our own - after all, by the time you go back 10 generations there are over 1000 lines to consider - so why not collaborate with your cousins on the lines that you share? Many lines make a lot of work, but many lines means many cousins - and many hands make light work!
Every photo tells a story COMPETITION
When I look at old family photos they invariably bring back memories - and I'm willing to bet that it's the same for you. That's why I've arranged a special competition in collaboration with Repixl, the website that specialises in digitally repairing and retouching photos.
All you need to do is follow this link to Repixl, register (if you haven't already done so), and upload one or more of your favourite family photos. When you move the mouse pointer over a picture you've uploaded you'll see a number of icons appear at the bottom of the photo - one on the right looks rather like a cassette, and when you move the pointer to it the words Submit a Photo Story will be displayed, as you can see in this screenshot (that's my mum's class in 1934, by the way):
When you click the icon you'll be taken to a page where you can enter your story - there are some questions displayed, but they are just suggestions. It's your story, so bring the photo to life however you want.
After the competition closes at midnight on Monday 23rd March, James at Repixl will choose his favourite photo stories from all those submitted by LostCousins members - and the 10 lucky winners will get a prize that money can't buy, the chance to submit a black and white or sepia-toned photograph from their family collection for colorisation!
If you watched the television series, World War 1 In Colour, you'll know how much more realistic films are when they're in colour - and when it comes to still photos the difference is even more pronounced.
Tip: you can enter more than once if you can't make up your mind which of your photo stories is the best.
Josephine sent me in this email from New Zealand - it's a warning for all of us:
One sentence in your latest newsletter really struck home, "Are you in danger of turning family history into family mystery?" I recently found that I had fallen into the trap of fantasizing my husband's family history.
His great grandfather was Charles Adolphus Moore, an unusual name, therefore easy to research thought I!
On his marriage certificate Charles Adolphus gave his father's name as Alexander Joseph and the 1861 census showed Charles Adolphus living with his parents Alexander and Ann Harriet in Middlesex Street, Marylebone, London. Place of birth was given as St Anne's and his age 4 years. I found the birth of Charles Adolphus Moore in 1857 and duly sent off for the birth certificate.
Horror of horrors, it came back with the parents as Charles Adolphus Moore and Sarah Barrow. Further research unearthed the death of Charles Adolphus Moore in 1858 and as I knew that the child Charles Adolphus lived until 1914 I came up with this lovely story where Alexander Joseph (who appears to be the brother of Charles Adolphus senior) informally adopted his deceased brother's child and brought him up as his own.
Recently I decided to invest in the 1858 death certificate of Charles Adolphus only to discover that it was for a child who had died at the age of 6 weeks. As you can imagine I have had to do a fair amount of editing of the family tree! And I now can't find the birth of Alexander Joseph Moore's second son, the Charles Adolphus Moore who married Kate Partridge and had 10 children.
It is a good thing that the nights are drawing in here in New Zealand.
I eventually finished Foundation, the first volume of Peter Ackroyd's History of England - it gets a bit confusing towards the end with all the Richards and Edwards and Henries who come in quick succession (in those days a King of England who lived to 50 was doing well) - but that's hardly the author's fault!
What I particularly enjoyed about the book is the way that the occasionally slips in a short chapter on fascinating topic - for example, there are just three pages in Chapter 14, The Lost Village, but I learned an awful lot from them. Chapter 36, The Staple of Life also covered a lot of ground, this time in 4 pages.
If, like mine, your interest in history was doused at school but rekindled by your interest in genealogy, this is an excellent way to fill in the gaps, especially prior to the Norman invasion of 1066. Thoroughly recommended, and if you follow the link above you can pick up second-hand copies very cheaply.
Having done my homework I turned for light relief to File Under Family by Geraldine Wall, which introduces probate genealogist Anna Ames - and even though I'm only a quarter of the way through the book, I was delighted to discover that a follow-up has already been published (File Under Fear).
The one downside is that currently these books are only available in Kindle format - if the book I'm reading is anything to go by they deserve a wider audience.
Somebody said to me the other day, "You can't know who the parents of that child were unless you order the birth certificate". And yet I did.
How did I know? The birth took place after the 3rd quarter of 1911, so the index showed both the father's surname and the mother's maiden name.
My next step was to search for marriages between couples with those surnames - and after eliminating those who would have been too old, or where the surnames were round the wrong way, I was left with just one couple who could feasibly have been the child's parents. Quod erat demonstrandum - as we used to say in maths classes when I was at school.
This is where I'll post any last minute additions.
Next time you hear from me I'll be at Genealogy in the Sunshine!
© Copyright 2015 Peter Calver
You MAY link to this newsletter or email a link to your friends and relatives without asking for permission in advance - but why not invite them to join instead?