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It started with a diary

Discussion in 'How I got started in Family History' started by kirkstall, Nov 19, 2018.

  1. kirkstall

    kirkstall New Member

    My interest was aroused when I discovered a diary among the items collected from my mother’s possessions after she died in 1997. The diary was written by her mother when she undertook a trip to America in 1903. Although my grandmother was alive for the first 10 years of my life and I did know that she had been to America -I can remember that they used a sugar spoon from Springfield- I cannot remember that I had ever been told any of the details of the trip.

    My first task was to transcribe the diary. It soon became obvious that my grandmother had travelled with what seemed to be two people, called Ma and AH and that she had visited various relations in different parts of the USA. After about 6 months they returned home with two more people accompanying them. It was the amount of detail in the diary that caused my initial interest. Not only are the people and places visited recorded but also many aspects of the journey. A great problem with amateur diarists is that they only describe places and people that are unknown to them and not those things that they already know.

    I did not really know where to start. I am an only child and both my parents had been dead for over three years. Fortunately, two work colleagues were involved in researching their family histories and I got some good ideas on how to begin. So it started, at first with IGI - but how to record the results? PAF was free and of course compatible with IGI so it seemed an obvious tool to use. (Apologies to newbies who are not familiar with these acronyms but I cannot remember what they stand for, but both came from what is now FamilySearch.)

    Slowly progress was made. PAF was upgraded to Family Historian and on a serendipitous Google search I found a second cousin whose father had done lots of research by visiting record centres. Through Ancestry and other sites I have found more cousins.

    Over the years I have discovered that the family has a test cricketer (who was directly responsible for the Ashes) , a Mormon pioneer, a philanthropic mill owner, an Irish sea captain and lines in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA plus many, many others.

    Then, of course, I started looking at other branches of my extended family and so it goes on…..
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 5
  2. Gillian

    Gillian LostCousins Star

    What a fascinating story, thank you. I'm sure we all have very different reasons for starting on family history. Mine started almost 20 years ago with efforts to discover why I had an Irish surname (Doherty) though, to my then knowledge, I had no connections with Ireland. My very first step was a handwritten letter to the vicar of the parish of Felsted in Essex asking him if he knew anything about an earlier vicar, my grandfather, Rev. Edward Doherty. His helpful reply set me on a road from which there's been no return (thank goodness!). It's been an enlightening journey in every possible way and has introduced me not only to numerous members of my extended family all over the world but taught me a lot of history.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. Heather

    Heather LostCousins Member

    Lovely story thanks. I think that I am correct in saying that PAF is Personal Ancestral File and IGI is International Genealogical Index.

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