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Monday, 3 January 2022

Accentuate The Positive 2021 - A Family HIstory Review

Jill Ball of GeniAus has again asked us to "Accentuate the Positive" in our review of our family history activities this past year. 

Few people I am sure would say the period of positivity in 2021 was all too short as we experienced a long spell of Lockdown, some relaxation in the summe,  followed by a slow spiral downwards - what with Covid again dominating the news.   Yet there were positives - not least with my family history, simply because I had so much more time spent at home. The fact I had such an absorbing hobby was a major godsend.  

So what have I done this past year in response to the  Geniaus prompts?

I got the most joy from……Where to start?

  • A great sense of satisfaction in completing the narrative on my mother’s life.

  • On completing the A-Z Blogging challenge. I had had a family history orientated theme in my head for a long time.  Then I had a sudden change of heart - go topical with “Scottish Borders  in Lockdowns”, building on the fact I was already writing a journal (offline) on the Covid pandemic. I enjoyed the  challenge to my brain of coming up with topics  for each letter, ranging from the highhearted to the serious – for once the letter Q was no problem with Queues Quarantine and Queries obvious headings! The supportive comments   from fellow bloggers were a key aspect of my enjoyment.


  • #AtoZChallenge 2021 badge
  • ·The delight in finding completely new information on my gg grandfather (more of that later); 
  • On exploring more of my father’s ancestry - for long enough the poor relation of my research to date.
    My paternal great grandfather John Matthews (1843-1917)

The Covid situation gave me an opportunity to……  Spend more time on my family history, as I was so restricted to home rather than out on other activities.  

I managed to attend a face to face event at.No - not a chance!

My main focus this year was on….. Completing tasks that had been on my “to do” list for a very long time.

A new piece of technology or skill I mastered was…….Not exactly new, but I managed to adapt to a new printer/scanner. As I do not regard myself as particularly IT savvy, this was an achievement.

A geneasurprise I received was …… Discovering  on The British Newspaper Archive new informationon about my great great grandfather Henry Danson of Poulton le Fylde, Lancashire (1806-1881). I thought I knew all about his occupations, homes and family.  Yet I found through an inquest report and an obituary that he was regarded locally as “an expert in horse flesh” and had died, ironically, in a horse & cart accident.   Lesson here – it is always worth   going back to newspaper websites to check on new titles coming on line.

A Facebook Group that helped me was……Genealogy Addicts Research Group  was,  as ever,  so helpful, whether it was with brick walls, source suggestions or deciphering handwriting on documents.

My 2021 social media post that I was particularly proud of was,,,,,, Posting photographs from my family collection oto place name Facebook pages connected with my family history - and the pleasure in the responses I received. 

My first class photograph at Devonshire Road Junior School, Blackpool   1950

A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was…. "Great Britain's Great War" by Jeremy Paxman, BBC journalist and presenter.   Six of my great uncles fought in the First World War, three of whom died, So this book had immediate interest to me.  It proved to be a readable account of the  war abroad and the impact at home.  The opening chapter immediately caught my attention as Paxman relates how after the death of his mother,  he came across a battered  cigar box containing documents on his great uncle Charlie, a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps, killed at   Gallipoli.  Using first hand source material, Paxman  brings to  life the day to day experiences of the British people. I liked the fact the emphasis was not on the detail of the military operations but focussed on the human stories. I learnt so much from this book, impressive and highly recommended.

I got the most value from this subscription…     I could already access newspaper articles through my Find My Past subscription, but I was aware people speaking highly of the British Newspaper Archive website, so joined on a discounted offer.  It took me time to suss out the different searching techniques, but I valued in particular that the website gives a transcription of the item found – which saves so much time and angst in trying to decipher  the text where the image is of poor quality.  

I progressed my DNA research with….. contacting my Common Ancestors on the results for both my husband and myself. Some frustrations but also some good results where contacts were happy to share information and photographs, particularly on my father’s ancestry,

I taught a genimate how to find out more….By sharing my knowledge of Scottish Border records available at the local archive centre.  We are nowadays so hung up on resources online, we are apt to forget that Archive Centres are worth contacting, as   they hold valuable material not online  e.g. poor law, school, police,  militia, and in this specific case Town Burgh Minute Books,  where  plenty of entries  were found naming an ancestor who was a local councillor,  giving his views on local issues.

Another positive I would like to share is.......three  instances here. 

  • Continuing to write regularly on the blog Sepia Saturday  that encourages bloggers to share their family history though photographs.
  • Continuing to manage the blog of my local history group Auld Earlston.  I was particularly proud  of the post   “An Earlston Suffragette Makes the Headlines”  - a great fun post to research (mainly through press reports) and write  for revealing  press attitudes in 1908,  with descriptions of "the dreaded suffragettes,   “pernicious feminine politicians”,  “militant political women”   “displaying their usual offensive manners”, and "mischievously disposed females."  So suffragette activity went far beyond the  cities to reach a village in the Scottish Borders.   Worth following up for your own community. 

  • Setting up a new blog Photo Ramblings, showcasing photographs taken by my husband, daughter and myself.  Not strictly family history, but I was a bit bored and looking for a new interest.   My first post featured Autumn in the Scottish Borders.


So 2021 held lots of positives in terms of my family history activities.

Onto 2022 for a happy, healthy and positive year!



  1. Such fun to read about your year in review! Thanks for sharing details. I'll have to check out your new photo blog! I do hope to keep seeing you on (or about) Saturdays!

  2. Thanks Sue, for your post. Looks like you made the most of your Covid year. Congratulations on your photo ramblings blog - a wonderful way for we foreigners to learn about places up over.

  3. Wow, it seems like you definitely had a positive in 2021 during Covid! You definitely made great use of your time and accomplished so much! I didn't know that some have many different blogs; it give me the idea that I should start another blog on a different platform for my personal family history journey. I think I chose the wrong platform from the beginning. It is part of my website, and I feel it isn't very suitable to put a lot about my family on it, not to mention the platform stinks. ;)


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