L is for Letters, Leisure, Language & anything Local - A-Z Genealogical Challenge
Ros at http://genwestuk.blogspot.com/ has come up with the idea of an A to Z genealogical challenge for the month of April. It soon got me thinking, so here are my contributions.
L is for:
Letters from the past let us hear the thoughts and emotions of our ancestors and are a potent legacy. After the death of my parents, I came across letters written just after their marriage when my father was working away from home, and a few years later during wartime. It is very moving to read them and they amongst my family treasures.
Even more poignant is a letter dated 20th August 1916 written by my great uncle George to his brother Frank. Three weeks later George was killed at the Battle of the Somme.
Local - Libraries, Newspapers, Publications and Websites - where would we be without them? They are the foundation to finding out more about how and where our ancestors lived. I have quite a collection of Local Publications on Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, expecially the compilations of old photographs, which can do so much to enhance the picture of our ancestral background.
Local Newspapers are goldmines, full of snippets of information that give a contemporary eye view of life at the time, with local, national and foreign "Intelligence" reported, and the advertisements equally fascinating. This is not textbook history but it is full of vigour on many varied aspects of life at the time for ordinary people.
Language - Family history can take you down diverse paths. Dialects and regional language are part of our ancestors' make up. We don't know how they spoke, but we can find out about the words and how they used them.
One example - when we first moved to Scotland, friends used to talk about "having to get a lot of messages". I was puzzled by this. To me from the north of England, a message was something scribbled on a bit of paper and surreptiously passed to a friend in a classroom, or your mother asked you to run round to your gran with a message - before the days of phones etc. So I had this image in Scotland of someone collecting lots of paper messages pinning them to her jumper and rushing round to deliver them all.
And in the Scottish context - doing the messages means doing the shopping!
In the Borders we have our own words - such as haugh, heugh, cleuch and knowe. (gh and ch sound as in loch). The place name of Wolfcleuchhead particularly appeals to me but more of that later under P for Place Names. Hawick people have their own way of speaking, such as "mair" for "more", "yin" for "one", "twae" for "two", "yow" for "you" and "mei" for "me".