Monthly Archives: January 2016

King’s Cross War Memorial for Railwaymen

This week was a full-on working week with two long London trips. Although I didn’t have time to do any family history research, I did take the opportunity to visit the War Memorial at King’s Cross station.

Over 20,000 railwaymen died in the First World War and there are various memorials to them dotted around the country. The one at King’s Cross is dedicated to employees of The Great Northern Railway (GNR) who lost their lives in that conflict. It contains 937 names. Originally erected in 1920, it was further dedicated to employees of the London and North Eastern Railway who gave their lives in World War Two. Their names are not listed.

The memorial was re-designed and re-dedicated in 2013. Its 11 tablets are reminiscent of John Singer Sargant’s painting “Gassed“.

I had a particular reason for wanting to stop off at the memorial. Amongst those named is William Colbeck. He was a parishioner at St Mary’s, Batley, and someone whose life I researched as part of my St Mary’s War Memorial book.

Born in 1887, William was the son of David and Catherine Colbeck (neé Garner). He initially followed his father’s trade as a woollen spinner before switching to become a platelayer employed by the GNR at Batley station.

William enlisted in March 1916, serving as a Sapper with the 264th Railway Company, Royal Engineers. The Royal Engineers by the end of the war numbered over a quarter of a million officers and men. Amongst a myriad of other construction roles, they built and maintained the railways. These were a vital part of the war effort, essential for moving men, supplies and equipment. So Williams specialist skills, developed in civilian life, were utilised during his military service.

He died from pneumonia in the 41st Stationary Hospital, France on 6th November 1918 and is buried at Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery.

At the time of his death his family placed a number of “In memoriam” notices in the “Batley News”. The one below is from his fiancée Elsie:

No one knows how much I miss him,
None but aching hearts can tell;
Forget him, no, I never will,
Loved him here, I love him still.
“Ever in my thoughts”
From his loving fiancée Elsie.

More information about railwaymen who died in the First World War can be found at the National Railway Museum (NRM) website. It includes a searchable database on the fallen.

I’ve included a series of close-up photos of the names of the men, which hopefully will be of use to those connected with the men commemorated.

Kings Cross 1

Close up of the names on the first two tablets

Kings Cross 2

Close up of third and fourth tablets

Kings Cross 3

Close up of marble tablets five to eight

Kings Cross 4

Close up of the names on the final three tablets

However, as with many War Memorials, not all those names you expect to find are included. Michael Lydon, another St Mary’s man, is one such example. According to newspapers he was employed as a goods porter by the GNR at Batley station. He lost his life on 1 September 1918. He does not feature on the GNR memorial or on the NRM database.

It would be good if both men (and any others with connections) could be remembered at Batley Railway Station.  

Colbeck and Lydon

Education, Education, Education: My Family History Learning 

My blogging output may decrease over the next few weeks as I’ve scheduled some time for learning.

On 23 January I started my latest Pharos Tutors online genealogy course, “Searching for Wills and Administrations in England and Wales”.  I’ve completed several Pharos courses and find this online learning method works well for me, fitting around work and family commitments. This will be my final module in their Family History Skills & Strategies (Intermediate) with Certificate programme. The explanation about how these certificate courses work is here.    
I’ve also booked three (free) National Archives webinars scheduled for March. These are:

I participated in their 1939 Register webinar at the end of 2015. It was really informative and the technology was easy to grasp worked well, prompting me to book more. So I’m converted to this form of learning. This, and previous webinars, can be found online. Their programme of events is here.

And to complete my latest foray into the world of family history education I’ve enrolled on a  FutureLearn course, “Genealogy: Researching your Family Tree”. This again is an online course, running for six weeks with a time commitment of around four hours per week. The course is a University of Strathclyde one, so I have high hopes.

The course description is to:

……. help you develop an understanding of the basic genealogy techniques and how to communicate your family history. We will consider how to effectively find and analyse sources and explore the potential of DNA testing as applied to genealogy. We’ll help you add historical context to your family history and discuss how to record and communicate research findings in a clear fashion”.

I’m particularly interested in the DNA angle. Hopefully it will stimulate me to return to my stalled genetic genealogy journey, referred to in three blog posts from last year:

This will be my first FutureLearn course, so I’m quite interested to find out how it works and if the learning style suits me as they have a number of other courses I’d be very interested in.

So the “keeping informed” element of my genealogy New Year’s Resolutions  is progressing nicely.

A “German” Family in WW1 England – Pork Butchers in Liversedge

Whilst browsing a September 1914 edition of “The Batley News” an announcement in the public notices column caught my attention. Addressed “To All Whom it May Concern” it read as follows:

Notice is hereby given that Mrs Christiana Schulz and her family are all naturalised British subjects and, in the present circumstances, it has been deemed advisable that the public of the immediate neighbourhood should be made acquainted with the following facts, namely:-

1. Mrs Christiana Schulz, now residing at Frost Hill, Liversedge, is the widow of the late Mr George Schulz, and she, along with her late husband and family, have resided in England for a period of nearly 50 years.
2. The late Mr George Schulz and his wife and family for a period of over 14 years have been naturalised British subjects and gave resided in the immediate neighbourhood.
3. All the children of the late Mr George Schulz are British-born and are loyal British subjects.
4. The late Mr George Schulz prior to his death carried on, and since that date his Widow in conjunction with her family have carried on, business in the immediate neighbourhood as ‘Pork Butchers’ under the style of ‘George Schulz and Sons’ in an honourable and straightforward manner. The said business has been carried out at the following addresses namely:- Frost Hill, Liversedge, Batley Road, Heckmondwike and 165, Bradford Road, Moorend, Cleckheaton.
5. Since settling in England they gave to the utmost of their ability discharged in a proper manner all their obligations as British subjects.
6. England is the country of their adoption and their interests and sympathies are entirely British, and notwithstanding rumours to the contrary they have neither relations in nor any interests whatever in Germany. On the other hand they desire it to be publicly known that as loyal British subjects their interests and sympathies are purely British, and by this Notice to intimate to the public that their sincere desire is for the ultimate success of the British and their Allies in the present regrettable struggle.

Dated this 2nd day of September 1914.
Thomas Mitcheson
Market Place, Heckmondwike
Solicitor for the said Mrs Christiana Schulz and her family”.

Public Notice in the “Batley News” 5 September 1914

I was intrigued by the notice and wondered what became of the family. However I failed to find any further reference to Christiana Schulz in the GRO indexes. I could track her up to the placement of the notice, but thereafter I drew a blank.

In terms of family prior to this public proclamation of British sympathies, I first traced what appears to be George Schulz in the 1871 census. A 21 year old pork butcher from Germany named George Schalz is lodging with the Wray family in New Bridge Street, Dewsbury. As this is just one of a number surname variants which occurred in records for the family I’m not too hung up about the spelling. All other details fit in with what I’ve discovered.

The following year, GRO indexes record the marriage of a George Schulz and Nanette Egner in Dewsbury Registration District (Q3 1872). From subsequent census entries, combined with Parish Register baptismal entries, I suspect Nanette is Christiana.

Thereafter followed a steady flow of children born country-wide. These are detailed in the table below:

Schulz

Ancestry.co.uk (West Yorkshire births and baptisms 1813-1910 and West Yorkshire non-conformist records 1646-1985). GRO indexes and Huddersfield and District FHS Heckmondwike St James baptism booklet 

The censuses corroborate the family’s journey round the England, with their children’s birth locations corresponding with baptismal details. I’ve not discovered George Frederick’s baptism, but censuses identify Birmingham as his birthplace (1). GRO baptism indexes record the Q2 1879 birth registration of a George Frederick Schulz in the Birmingham Registration District.

The family census addresses were:

  • 1881: 9, Doncaster Road, Liverpool;
  • 1891: Woodhall, Healey Lane, Batley;
  • 1901: Frost Hill, Liversedge; and
  • 1911: Frost Hill, Liversedge

I’ve not traced a death for Nanette or a marriage for a George and Christiana. But, as mentioned, the censuses combined with the baptism details are the main reasons for my suspecting Nanette is Christiana:

  • The 1877 baptism of Caroline names her mother as Christiani [sic];
  • The 1881 census taken on 3 April 1881. This was prior to the birth of George Arthur. The family address is 9, Doncaster Road, Liverpool. The household comprises George Schulz, his wife Christina [sic] and children Fanny E, Caroline and George F. All details match the family. Then in July 1881 the Parish Register of St Martin in the Fields, Liverpool has the baptism of George Arthur. The address corresponds with the family, as does George’s occupation – but the baby’s mother is Nanette;
  • Adolphus Egner, brother-in-law, is in the household in 1901. Not conclusive as it could be a brother-in-law through a previous marriage, but it is another nugget of information; and
  • The 1911 census states George and Christiana have been married for 39 years – which would correspond with a 1872 marriage

I’d love to obtain some certificates to prove or disprove the theory. However, given their cost, it may be on permanent hold. The Schulz family are not part of my ancestry and I still have certificates I want relating to my own family history research.

Some censuses indicate George and Christiana were from Württemberg, Germany. George’s birthplace is confirmed in his February 1900 naturalisation papers. He was born in the Württemberg town of Langenburg,  the son of George and Margaret Schulz.

Probate records show George died on 6 April 1911. He was 61 years old. But there were plenty of family members to continue his business. Sons George Frederick, George Arthur, Charles, John Herbert and Ernest were all engaged in the trade. Son-in-law Carl Schuler, also from Langenburg (2) and husband of Caroline, owned a pork butcher’s business in Shipley.

However, their Great War fate continued to niggle me. It wasn’t my ancestry but so many of the locations associated with the Schulz’s were familiar to me. Staincliffe Church is less than ten minutes walking distance from my home; the location of their Batley Road shop is a similar distance and I can recall a butchers shop there, although it may not be the same one; I can see the Woodhall area from my window, about five minutes walk away; and I discovered they had a Healey business which burned down in 1891 – the area I’ve spent most of my life in. So I wanted to know how their story ended.

Staincliffe Church, scene of a number of Schulz baptisms & marriages

I knew British attitudes to foreign nationals changed at the outbreak of war, with Germans living in the country categorised as “enemy aliens“. I was also aware that, naturally enough, anti-German feelings were prevalent and hardened as the war progressed, especially after incidents such as the May 1915 Lusitania sinking.

From August 1914 newspapers carried numerous reports ranging from boycotting of German businesses, to attacks on and looting of German shops, even those belonging to naturalised British subjects. Many of these attacks were on the shops of pork butchers, a trade particularly associated with Germans. And many occurred in West Yorkshire.

One incident was far too close to home for the Schulz family. On 29-30 August 1914 anti-German riots broke out in Keighley. Over the course of the weekend a huge, angry, largely Irish mob attacked shops owned by tradesmen of German origins, including several pork butchers. Fuelled by alcohol and spurred on by cries of “Down with the ***** Germans”, “Come on: Let’s do to the ***** Germans the same as they are doing to the Belgians” and “Who will join Darcy’s Army” (3) they caused pandemonium in the town, terror to the citizens and injuries to several policemen. They also caused damage estimated at over £400. One shop was even set alight.

As I’d discovered from the 1911 census Charles Schulz had a pork butcher’s shop in Low Street, Keighley. And indeed his was one of the shops attacked. The 12 September edition of the Yorkshire post states:

Next the crowd went to the shop of a pork butcher named Schulz, in Low Street, which was also damaged and rifled, the windows being kicked through”.

The violence is also referred to in Lyn MacDonald’s “1914: The Days of Hope”. It contains the reminiscences of Eva Leach, daughter of a Keighley publican. She recalls the attacks on, and looting of, the pork butchers in Keighley. She recalls the Schulz’s as a “nice couple with a baby“. When the looting of their shop commenced “the Schulzes rushed next door and sheltered with the Mitchells until the trouble died down. Mrs Schulz was in an awful state, quite terrified“.

Undoubtedly this is the incident which prompted the family to employ a solicitor to place the newspaper notice within days of the Keighley events. If Christiana’s son’s Keighley shop could come under attack, so could the family’s Frost Hill business. The notice is powerful testimony to their concerns and the threat they were under.

But I was still no nearer to finding out what happened to Christiana after September 1914.

Then finally in January 2016 the final jigsaw puzzle piece clicked into the place. Not by any research on my part other than generally sharing the September 1914 notice on social media (4). As a result someone told me they believed the family adopted the English surname Schofield.

The Gate Hangs High” is a book by Mildred Coldwell. It recounts her family memoirs about living in Heckmondwike between 1909-1921. A passage from it provides confirmation of the wartime name change:

….there were quite a number of families in the Spen Valley of German descent who were ostracised by a section of our community. One such person was Mr Schultz [sic] (5), the pork butcher, whose spotless shop was up Frost Hill, a man and his family respected by us all. I cried when I heard that a stone had been thrown through his shop window. Mr Schultz wasn’t a German, he was one of us, a Spen Valleyer. Arthur, his little boy, was in my class at school and would even fight in the playground. Anyhow, the Hun wore helmets with a spike on top, and I couldn’t imagine Mr Schultz wearing one of those. But he stood his ground and showed everybody that he didn’t want to be a German, he was English, so a new sign was put up over his shop ‘Schofield’s Pork Butchers”. Mr Schultz had made his choice. It was lovely to go down with a basin as usual for half a pound of warm, roast pork covered with gravy, and served by the now Mr Schofield, smiling once more, standing there in his lovely, laundered blue and white striped apron, sharpening his long knife on the hone fastened on to a polished leather belt round his ample waist. Quite a few more families with German names followed his example”.

The changing of Germanic surnames to British sounding ones was not unique to the Schulz family. Many adopted this device to hide their origins and proclaim their Britishness.  Even the Royal Family did it in 1917, ditching Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in favour of Windsor.

Further corroboration of the Schulz to Schofield change comes with the death of Christiana in 1922. The National Probate Calendar has the following entry:

SCHOFIELD Christianna [sic] Rosina Sophie of Frost Hill, Liversedge, Yorkshire died 21 April 1922 Administration London 8 June to George Frederick Schofield butcher. Effects £1913 15s 7d

The GRO indexes (Q2 1922) confirm that Christiana R S Schofield was 69.

I’ve loved researching this family and feel there is so much more to discover. The early 20th century is my favourite period of history and I enjoyed researching it from a slightly different perspective: that of families of German origin in England during World War 1. This is just one family. I’m delighted to find they remained in England. 

The Schulz Family


Footnotes:

(1) The 1911 census says Worcester, Birmingham. Others state Birmingham, Warwickshire
(2) Taken from his 1912 naturalisation papers
(3) One of the ringleaders was William Darcy
(4) Spen Valley Family and Local History Group on Facebook
(5) A son of George carrying on the family business

Sources

  • Ancestry.co.uk – England & Wales National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations) 1858-1966
  • Ancestry.co.uk – HO 334 Naturalisation certificates and declarations of British nationality 1870-1912
  • Ancestry.co.uk – West Yorkshire births & baptisms 1813-1910 and West Yorkshire non-conformist records 1646-1985
  • Batley News” – 5 September 1914
  • Find My Past – 1871-1911 Censuses
  • Find My Past newspapers
  • GRO Indexes via FreeBMD and Find My Past
  • Huddersfield & District Family History Society Heckmondwike St James Baptisms 1883-1907 (note this West Yorkshire parish is not covered by Ancestry)
  • The Gate Hangs High” – Mildred Coldwell
  • 1914: The Days of Hope” – Lyn MacDonald

I Left it too Late: Batley’s Greenhill Mills Destroyed

Thank goodness no-one died, but even so I am feeling quite emotional about this. On 14 January a massive fire ripped through Greenhill Mills, Grange Road, Batley razing it to the ground.  

Apart for the sadness for those who will have lost their jobs, it was a place very much associated with an ancestor, Jesse Hill, who died in WW1: the ancestor I have spent most time researching. 

That connection has now gone, wiped out in a matter of hours. 

The firm Jesse Hill worked for, Wrigley & Parker, went into liquidation in the late 1920’s and the mill was sold. But it was still the same building. 

The mill was only down the road from me. I kept meaning to photograph it but I never got round to it. And I never made the effort to see inside, walk on the wood floors, touch the stonework. I know that sounds odd, perhaps it’s a family historian thing. 

Unlike many other places connected with my family history, because it was on my doorstop I didn’t have to make a special trip. It was there, I’d do it one day, no rush. A Victorian structure, still being used. It wasn’t like it would disappear overnight…..or so I thought.  

Following the inferno of 14 January, that’s exactly what happened.   

Not sparing the time to take that handful of photographs to record Jesse Hill’s workplace is something I now very much regret. As is never seeing the interior. It’s example of how we take for granted our local and family history.  

So a lesson learned the hard way. Don’t put off the chance to visit a family history connected location; don’t put off talking to family to record memories. Because one day you’ll wake up and realise that chance has gone. 

This is the only photo I took – too late.  

The remains of Greenhill Mills

 
Neither does Jesse Hill’s Spurr Street home exist. 

Spurr Street, Batley

Top Ten Genealogy/Family History Books by a Self-Confessed Bookworm

Tsundoku” – the Japanese word for buying books and letting them pile up unread. Yes I’m guilty of that. But I also have piles of read books because I don’t have enough bookshelf space, despite buying yet another one last year to accommodate my burgeoning genealogy and WW1 book collection. I return to these books time and time again for pleasure and my research (interchangeable, because I get enjoyment from research).   

Part of my Book Collection

 Trying to narrow it down to my top ten go-to books has been a really difficult decision because it depends on which aspect of research I’m concentrating. Some such as the handy little Gibson Guides covering topics from Militia Lists, to Hearth Tax and Probate Jurisdictions are invaluable but very specific. I wanted a broader range of topics in my selection.

So in the end I’ve gone for a mixture of general reference and more specialised books, including some tailored to my own family history interests. Here they are, in no particular order: 

  • Ancestral Trails: The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History” – Mark Herber. Exactly as described in the title. It’s my definitive reference book, written in a easy-to-read style and jam-packed with information. A book I couldn’t do without.
  • The Dictionary of Genealogy” – Terrick V H FitzHugh. An alphabetical glossary of terms. A quick reference source to dip into.
  • Tracing your Ancestors in the National Archives: The Website and Beyond” – Amanda Bevan. An in-depth guide which clearly set outs and explains The National Archives series of records. It is indeed “the biggest and best guide to The National Archives”  
  • The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers” – edited by Cecil R Humphrey-Smith. Although this might not be for everyone because the information is available on the Internet, I find it invaluable having everything about pre-1832 parishes at county-level in one place, juxtaposed with the topographical county map. There is a comprehensive index of the parishes complete with dates of registers. The Ecclesiastical and Peculiar Jurisdictions are also included. It covers England, Scotland and Wales. Though for those with poor eyesight, a magnifying glass to see the maps in detail is advisable!
  • UK Timeline for Family Historians” – Angela Smith & Neil Bertram. Provides a timeline for family historians setting genealogical events and resources into a wider historical context. It’s not exhaustive but it is a really useful quick, basic reference book.
  • Genealogy – Essential Research Methods” – Helen Osborn. This is a different type of book. It is a detailed, well laid out reference for problem-solving research strategies to help break down brick walls. Some excellent advice on research methodology.
  • Palaeography for Family and Local Historians” – Hilary Marshall. I think it is essential to have a book about palaeography, abbreviations and Latin to help with deciphering old handwriting and language. I have a number all of which I use to varying degrees, so it was difficult to chose one. But in the end I went for this comprehensive book. It has the standard characteristics of letters, abbreviations and a Latin vocabulary. But it also includes copies of original documents accompanied by the transcript, translation, a description and any notable features of the script. So everything in one book.  
  • Tracing your Mayo Ancestors” – Brian Smith. I have a significant contingent of Irish ancestors. I agonised about which Irish ancestry book to include in my list. I was torn between this and John Grenham’s “Tracing Your Irish Ancestors” covering the whole of the country. But as, so far, all my ancestors are from County Mayo I went for a book focusing purely on the records for this County. There are other County books in this series of Flyleaf Press publications.
  • My Ancestor was a Coalminer: A Guide to Coalminer Sources for Family Historians”  – David Tonks. I love the SoG “My Ancestor was A…..” series of books, alongside Pen & Sword’s “Tracing Your Ancestor” series. My ancestors were predominantly coalminers, so for me a coal-mining family history research book is essential. I’ve included this one for the comprehensive pointer to various coal-mining sources. But I could have equally chosen Pen & Sword’s very informative and generally more detailed “Tracing Your Coalmining Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians” by Brian Elliott (I’ve cheated though and  included this book in my final picture). However the deciding factor was my final choice, another Pen & Sword publication.
  • Tracing Your First World War Ancestors” – Simon Fowler. First World War ancestry is another one of my particular interests, having researched the 76 men on my local church War Memorial, St Mary of the Angels RC Church, Batley. I have a number of books about military research. But this is a good basic introduction covering the full range of those involved in the conflict, including women and civilians at war.  

To keep a track of my books I keep a A-Z by author index of them all. I make sure I take to any family history fairs and events so, in theory, I won’t duplicate purchases; and even if I can’t immediately spot a book on my over-crowded bookshelves, I know it’s there somewhere!

If you have tips for essential family history books please feel free to share them. It’s great to hear about key books, whether you are beginner to family history research or more experienced.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2016 – Workshops

I’m pushing on with my Family History New Year’s Resolutions, as described on 1 January. Today’s task has been around keeping up with the latest developments and building upon my knowledge.

I booked my ticket to “Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2016” late last year. Today I checked out the Workshop programme. Last year I failed to book these in advance. As a result the ones I wanted to attend were full. Although I was able to hang around the periphery and eavesdrop, it wasn’t quite the same as having a seat. This was my blog post based on my view of the 2015 event.

Irish Catholic Records Workshop in 2015

The programme is more or less finalised, and the workshops available to pre-book. Lots of interesting talks around a full range of topics, from Irish ancestry, copyright and War Records, to brick walls, maps and pre 1837 research. There are the inevitable workshop clashes. But I’ve deliberated and finally made my selection. These are based around a combination of my interests and areas I want to strengthen.

The full programme is here

My choices are:

  • “The Luck of the Irish” – Irish Census and Census Substitutes Might Lead You to Your Family in Ireland Prior to 1864 Registration – Grant Edward Curley (10.15)
  • Research Before 1837: Church Records on and Off Line – Else Churchill (11.15)
  • Writing Your Family History – Gill Blanchard (12.15)
  • What They Don’t Tell You About Archives – Simon Fowler (14.15)
  • Tracing a 16th and 17th Century Family Tree – Celia Heritage (15.15)
  • Copyright and Family History – Margaret Haig (16.15)

 

Update:
I have now received a follow up email from “WDYTYA? Live” informing me that the workshop schedule has changed since I made my booking. The “Writing Your Family History” workshop has moved to Friday’s show, so I will have to miss that one.

And “Research Before 1837” has moved to later in the day on Saturday….and it now clashes with the “Copyright and Family History” one. I’m now agonising over which one to attend. It may be that my husband will find himself attending the latter, tasked with note-taking: as a journalist, but not a family historian, it is the one he will probably get the most from.

I now have a gap at 11.15, so will probably go for Chris Baker’s  “The Fog of War: Breaking Through the Records of Soldiers of 1914-1918″, one of the talks I toyed with when making my original decision. My husband has booked for that one – so I will ask him to consider donating his place to me!

Looking at “The Education Zone” offerings which have now largely been fleshed out since my booking, Andrew Robertshaw’s “The Story of the Somme” appeals. Running between 13.50-14.10 I can probably squeeze that one in (just). But the other one I’m interested in, “Using Findmypast to Unlock Your Irish Family History“, by Brian Donovan clashes with the Archives talk.

The fact there are so many talks I’m interested in is testimony to the continued relevance of the show to family history researchers.

And the event has challenged my timetabling to the max. I only hope I haven’t gone too far with workshop overload….and I can find time to explore the various exhibitors.

I am also hoping that the surgery I’m now scheduled for will be in the week after the show. Otherwise all my planning will be in vain.

 

January Sale: Huddersfield & District Family History Society Publications

A proper January sale for me. Not clothes or household goods. But Parish Register index booklets.

Many of my ancestors are from the area of West Yorkshire covered by the Huddersfield & District Family History Society (FHS). So naturally this is one of the societies I’m a member of. This month they are reducing the price of their Register Transcription booklets to £1.00 and CDs to £5.00. Here is their Publication Page link.

img_0310

A Selection of my HDFHS Index Booklets

Although the Ancestry West Riding Parish Register collection is wonderful, and nothing can beat a visit to the local Archives, I must admit to a strong attachment to these index booklets and the hard work of all the FHS transcribers they represent. So in part this post is a shout out for all the fantastic work they do.

Yes, I do check my ancestral finds against the Registers for the rare, but inevitable, transcription error. And I do enjoy  looking through the Registers. But I still love the physical comfort and solidity of a book(let), not to mention the eye-relief especially when browsing generally.

And despite the big push by genealogy companies and the impression they sometimes give, not everything is available on the Internet…including some of the Parishes covered by these indexes.

I’m fortunate to live in the same area of many of my ancestors, so I can easily visit West Yorkshire Archives, local studies libraries and the excellent local libraries, including the one in my hometown of Batley. Others do not have this luxury. These indexes are excellent finding aids and another gateway to the Registers, providing a complementary, alternative source of information.

So whilst my husband was out at work on New Year’s Day, I spent part of it perusing the several hundred booklets produced by the FHS, checking against my list of previous purchases, and placing my (large) order.

Family History 2016: My Genealogy New Year’s Resolutions

That time of the year again. Time to look at my genealogy New Year’s Resolutions. I’m not into setting myself up for failure with overly-ambitious goals. So nothing too grand. More a case of “back to basics”. Some targets are more challenging than others, but all are attainable; and I hope that re-establishing good habits will ultimately bear fruit with my family history research.

I’ve culled my Resolutions to six. Weird number I know. But when setting work-linked objectives, which is essentially what these Resolutions are, sticking to a small manageable number works best for me. It encourages focus.

So this is my 2016 line-up (or walk of shame):

Regular Data Back-Ups
I’ve so much information stored on my ageing laptop. From my Family Historian tree to genealogy coursework; from research notes to information downloads such as burial registers and directories; not to mention scanned family and location photos and the final versions of my St Mary’s War Memorial and Hill Family History book. So, on the first of each month, I’m going to commit to a regular data back-up. A boring task which is all too easy to skip, as I know only too well; and before you know it weeks can easily become months between back-ups, and the consequences of a laptop failure after such a time-lapse doesn’t bear thinking about. This objective fits neatly into the SMART acronym.

  • Specific;
  • Measurable;
  • Achievable;
  • Realistic; and
  • Time-bound

Record Keeping
I love researching. It’s the thrill of putting all the pieces of a family puzzle together. What I’m not too hot with is the day-to-day routine. Meticulously recording my searches (failures as well as finds), updating my Family Historian programme, recording sources, filing documents etc. All this is such a chore in comparison to finding that elusive relative. I do it when researching for others because it is crucial work; but over the past couple of years I seem to have I have developed a blind spot with my own family history research. I’ve a stack of documents to record and notes to sort – but I always manage to find an excuse to put it off. No more! I will get them up to date in the first quarter of the year, and from then on record and file as I go along.….something I always used to do.

Get a Grip of Subscriptions
Over the years I’ve accumulated various subscriptions including magazines, Family and Local History Societies and websites. I’m now loosing track of what I’ve got, the costs and the renewal dates. It also means I’m not making the best use of my subscriptions. So this month I’m going to make a list of them all, along with the renewal dates. Then over the course of the year I’ll monitor my usage, evaluate them and decide which ones to continue with. Hopefully by doing this I’ll also keep up to date with what is out there, make fuller use of my subscriptions and become more involved.

A Selection of my Family History Subscriptions

A Selection of my Family History Subscriptions

Keep Informed about Latest Family History Developments
I’m going to ensure I set aside some time each week to keep up to date with family history developments in an organised way. As a start I do have several “free” hours each week travelling too and from work, so I can make far better use of this “dead” time to catch up with the latest news. This will comprise a mixture of platforms including:

  • making sure I do read those family history magazine and online genealogy newsletters I subscribe to;
  • keeping up with information from genealogy websites and companies;
  • continuing to broaden my knowledge by reading genealogy/family history books (at least one a month);
  • regularly reviewing what courses, talks and webinars are out there. After participating in The National Archives 1939 webinar, I’m going to sign up for other similar learning events from a mixture of sources (a minimum of six in the year); and
  • attending at least two family history fairs during the year

Get Back to my own Family History Research
This could be the real tricky one. Particularly over the last year or so I’ve found I have spent less and less time on my own personal research and more and more time researching for others. There have also been family illness issues which have intervened. Don’t get me wrong, I love researching for others. But I really do want to make some time to return to my own roots. I never did get to do my mum’s Family History book; neither did I make any progress with my husband’s Staffordshire and Shropshire tree. There are also lots of other loose ends I want to pursue. So I will need to commit time to my own research. That means my next big project will be the Callaghan/Rhodes Family History book. I will plan the outline by autumn, and make a start on writing it towards the end of 2016. I also want to move on with my husbands tree – I’ve lots of certificates lined up to buy, but I may still delay here in the hope that the cost does come down in 2016!

DNA
In 2015 I embarked on my genetic genealogy journey. In 2016 I aim to upload my data to GEDmatch, dig deeper into the findings and respond to contacts from others within two weeks. The end goal is to generally get more from the results than I have to date. A challenge to a self-confessed technophobe!

So New Year, clean slate. It will be interesting to see if I’ve managed to stick to these when 2016 draws to a close. Hopefully putting them into the public domain is another incentive for me to succeed with them!

Right, I’m off to do my data back-up.