Monday, January 14, 2008

Family Tree – Genealogy




Here is the reason I have not posted for a few days; something caught my attention.

My brother emailed me last week, or rather, it looked like I had emailed myself; you know when it says ‘Me’ as the sender. I suspected it was something dodgy, somebody trying to make me click on a link and download offensive rubbish on my PC. So what did I do? I googled the source and found it was a completely legitimate URL, a reputable company albeit at the beta stage. It turned out to be something quite interesting, a website where you can build your family tree online. It’s like an extended-family-Wikipedia. Somebody starts building it, invites other relatives to join in the fun and contribute to a growing tree with their knowledge about relatives. It’s got the potential to spread like a bush fire.

As it happens I have taken an interest in my ancestors in the last couple of years and done a lot of scanning from photo albums. I have immersed myself in it completely sometimes, asked my 85-year-old mother about names and relationships while she still is lucid. She is the last one of the oldest generation that I can turn to for reliable information, so time is of great importance. My interest got even stronger when my dad passed away and I started looking into his old belongings, photos, slides, letters, books etc. My mother had quite a lot from her side of the family as well, so it all mounted up. My idea is to share it with siblings and cousins once it is all sorted.

So this family tree website fits the picture perfectly. I had some information from my dad, which I believe he had had from his dad. Somebody, I don’t know who, had in the past done some genealogical research and presented it in the customary way like a tree, but also attached information in prose, seemingly from parish records, about the people in the tree. Then you can read between the lines and understand even more yourself sometimes. Absolutely fascinating! The furthest this research reached into the past was the late 17th century. It is a heck of a long time ago!

I will probably come back to this and post some of the interesting stuff and my thoughts about the people from whom I descend. Hopefully I can include pictures as well, although I have to confess I don’t have any photos from the 17th century. If you are interested in starting your own tree, go to http://www.geni.com/ .

7 comments:

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

What a wonderful site! Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

swenglishexpat said...

You are welcome Jen!

Lynda said...

Genealogy is very popular in Australia.. mainly because most people want to know if they are descendents of a convict. I suppose it is easier in a country that has only been settled by white-fellas for a mere 200 years. There always seems to be one person in each family that becomes the keeper of the flame. I found myself fascinated with the family history of my German in-laws and have managed to learn more about them than my husband ever knew. Great new hobby!

swenglishexpat said...

Lynda, it certainly is good fun although I have so far only used information already available in the family, not done any research as such. In the old documents I've got, fires in rectories are mentioned. This problem of lost documents is rather annoying, stops you dead in your tracks. Maybe with modern technology and the internet we stand a better chance, we'll see.

Eric Valentine said...

A great link Swen, I am already in the midle of a family tree thing as you know, but I will check this site out as well. :)

Speaking of a dead end, that is what I am dealing with at the moment, it's most annoying.. :)

swenglishexpat said...

Dead end, Eric? You are funny!:-)
It's fascinating to see the tree grow by the day. You kind of get to know the ancestors after looking at photos, editing them, doing a bit of detective work etc. Cousins' children adding spouses I didn't know they had, adding to the present. great pastime.

matthew_in_ham said...

Thanks. I don't do genealogy myself (we Reeses don't generally like our immediate family let alone feel compelled to find out about distant relatives)but my wife's family do and I've passed the details of the website on to her.