Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Endless Record Stream

Palm House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (Robert Matheson, 1856–8), seen from the south-south-westBy Ham (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
I have been reading about doing genealogical research in England and the United Kingdom lately. From looking at a number of books, it is apparent that the most common method of approaching the subject of genealogy is to begin to list all the places where various types of records can be found. A good example of this type of writing is the following book:

Herber, Mark D. Ancestral Trails: The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History. Baltimore, Md: Genealogical Pub. Co., Inc, 1998.

This particular book has 674 pages and almost 100 illustrations. The book is densely crammed with references to various types of records that can be used to trace your British ancestors. As I read this, or any other similar book, my mind is flooded with ideas about where to look for additional information about my own ancestors. While I was out camping in the wilds of Wyoming, Montana and Alberta, I was reading the following book:

Rogers, Colin, and Colin Rogers. Tracing Your English Ancestors: A Manual for Analysing and Solving Genealogical Problems, 1538 to the Present. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1989.

I have mentioned this book previously. It is a much shorter work than the Ancestral Trails volume with only 182 pages, but it is also densely packed with references to potential genealogical resources. Both books could be considered to be "out-dated" by a casual researcher, especially one who was overly focused on online resources. Interestingly, in reading the Tracing Your English Ancestors book, I found only one reference to a computerized database and of course, nothing about the Internet. On the other hand, the huge list of records listed in both books pointed reinforced my perception about the need to dig in and find the more obscure or little mentioned records that seem to fill the world.

As we drove through northern Montana, I was again reminded of records. Each town, no matter how small, seemed to have a church or two, some had prominent Masonic lodges, libraries were in abundance and there were funeral homes and many other businesses. Coming back to Provo through Idaho, we passed a number of huge buildings for farm bureaus and other farm organizations. In making a quick look online for English farming organizations, I found the following website: International Federation Agricultural Journalists: Farming and Rural Organisations. How many of these organizations have records that might help you find your ancestors in England? Did you know to even ask the question?

I decided to check out one of the organizations (notice the British spelling), AHDB Potatoes, a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. This lead me to the website for the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. Let's just say that as I began to investigate this particular organization, I found it going back into time. Here is where this particular Board originated, quoting from the Background to AHDB:
On 28 June 2006, Jeff Rooker, Minister for Sustainable Food and Farming, together with Devolved Ministers, announced that five levy bodies (the British Potato Council, the Meat and Livestock Commission, the Milk Development Council, the Horticultural Development Council and the Home Grown Cereals Authority) should be radically restructured and replaced by one statutory levy board on 1 April 2008.
This link took me to a reference to the British Potato Council, which lead me to further organizations. All of these organizations have records. Granted, this example got me back to the 1940s but the web of government and private organizations began to appear endless. One link took me to the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh that was founded in 1670.

Perhaps you get my point by now. The stream of records is, for all practical purposes, endless. If you are just starting out with your family history, references to potato boards and other organizations may seem excessive, but it is nature of all these types of organizations to keep records and genealogists thrive on records.  

No comments:

Post a Comment