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Tuesday, 7 April 2015


A-Z of Family History Sources & Stories 
Join me on this A-Z journey to explore the fascinating records 
that can  enhance your family history research and writing.

FUNERALSIt is always worth contacting local libraries/archive centres to trace newspaper reports of the occasion.  Inevitably the focus is usually  on local worthies and people prominent in the community, but you never know what may be there.  My great grandfather James Danson was a joiner, but an account  of his  funeral appeared in “The Fleetwood Chronicle and Fylde Advertiser” of 28th September 1906 and noted:   
“His father was the toll collector at Shard Bridge for 14 years.  Mr Danson had been ill for some time, but had only recently taken to his bed.  The chief mourners were Mrs Danson (wife), Messrs Robert, John, Thomas and Willie Danson (sons), Mr John Danson (brother from Clitheroe), Miss Cookson (niece), Mrs Miles, Mrs Roskell, Mrs Geo Riley, and Mrs. Threlfall.  There were a number of beautiful wreaths.”
It was noticeable that missing from the list was eldest son Harry who died a year later aged 30, and James' three  youngest children,  Frank, George and Jennie who were all under  14 years old.    Mrs Roskell and Mrs Riley were sisters-in-law.

  FEISTY FEMALES   are a natural for a family history profile so which of your female ancestors do you most admire?  Amongst mine are :
  • My great grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe - one of eight sisters who went on to have 10 sons (8 surviving infancy) and finally an only daughter.
  • My great aunt Jennie Danson (left)  - the only daughter who looked after her many brothers,  following the death of her mother, but was equally determined to lead her own life.
  • My aunt Edith Danson - a talented lady who became an infant headteacher, traveled widely on her retirement  and married for the first time at the age of  73.

FARMING RECORDS - Most  of us must count farmers, shepherds, hinds, carters and  ag. labs amongst our ancestors, but how to find out more about their lives?  Realistically records on individuals  are likely to focus on  landed gentry and tenant farmers, rather than their workers.  I live in a rural region and my archive centre has a wealth of information that can provide background on estates,  and life in agricultural communities.  For example:

Advertisements of sale of stock 
Auction Mart records
Drawings of farm machinery
Field name survey 
Farmers' Club & Pastoral Societies - members lists and minute books
Individual farm records - day books, account books etc. 
Postcards of farms and farm workers - with an image below of a carter from my local community heritage group Auld Earlston. 


One of the most significant collections held at my local Archive Centre  belongs to the Border Union Agricultural Society, with material dating from 1813,  when the Society was formed.   Included are minute books,  subscription books,  letter books, financial paper and lists of prize winners at the annual show which remains a major event in the local calendar today.  

Here is a record showing that A. S Pringle won prizes in 1876 in the class of "Implements of Husbandry"  for "a self acting horse rake" and "a turnip topping and tailing machine".   

FAMILY SEARCH (www.familysearch.org)  - originally set up as the International Genealogical Index (IGI) by the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons),  and dedicated  to preserving the records of the family of mankind. A very useful start to your research - and FREE!  It was here that I first discovered I had American connections. My mother's family all seemed very firmly based in Lancashire, but a very casual browsing of Family Search revealed that my great grandmother's sister Alice Rawcliffe had died in New Jersey, USA.  I had to find out more!   It  proved a fascinating story, and resulted in me  making  contact with a third cousin.

FIND MY PAST (www.findmypast.co.uk)  - one of the major subscription websites for British family history research  

Onto G for Gazateers & Glossaries,
Genuki & Geneabloggers  

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