Sunday Salon – Getting Back to Reading

921a1-sunday2bsalonIt is a long while since I have taken part in a Sunday Salon. Social media has reduced the amount of time I read, as has writing and producing various presentations, syllabus and course material.

I returned to education and read History with Educational Studies in 1997. Education was my minor and by the end of the first year the education element was history and I moved to a history major. The amount of reading was overwhelming. As a mature student I had to pay my own fees and the usual domestic bills. I had 12 hours of contact time, and probably about 30 hours of reading. I still worked in pharmacy, mainly as a locum as that was all about I could manage, both in terms of hours and endurance.

Having moved house, I came across a number of papers, notes, scribbles and my paper copy of my thesis and pondered on ditching the lot. I might publish my thesis but that is very much in the future as I have a writing project that needs to be completed this week. (So why am I here writing this post?). As I could not make a decision I found a patterned box and dumped the lot in there, it now resides on the top of my bookcase, or one of them, taunting me every time I walk into my office.

I searched through my camera feed on my iPhone earlier and realised that in addition to some actual pictures, I have many, many snap shots of book covers. Books that appeal to me that I have seen on various social media channels or even in Waterstones. Am I the only one?

Smiths is the nearest bookstore to me and I use that term very loosely. There are also no independents and if independent shops were not going out of business I might even contemplate opening a bookshop, ah to dream. Despite the contention between supporting independents or using the chains, I do rather like Waterstones. You can wander and browse the shelf’s. I usually take a few pictures of books so I can check the price on Amazon, I show, shocking! There is something rather therapeutic browsing bookshelves and contemplating purchases.

Books are one of the things that I never experience buyers remorse with, how about you?

Posted in Books, Sunday Salon | 2 Comments

Strategy for a Genealogical Project

genealogical project strategyOver the course of the last few Introduction to One-Name Studies courses I have been asked a number of questions and thought that it was worth sharing them here. Over the course of the next few weeks I will share the questions and subsequent discussion. I hope you find it interesting.

The first thing to consider is:

  1. What project do you want to undertake? – What is it that makes X fascinating to you that you want to explore more in-depth? This could be a One-Name Study or a One-Place Study. Researching a house,business, school etc.
  2. How are you going to achieve your quest? – How many hours do you have available to undertake the project? It does not need to be a lot, you might be working full time with a family and still want to undertake a project of this kind. Or you might be retired and have an abundance of time available. Perhaps consider working with others who share the same interest, or maybe you already have a body of work that you are using as your basis for the project.
  3. Plan the Structure of your Project – This will likely depend on what your project is and your starting data. You might be researching a Surname that you know originates in Ireland and you reside in the United States. Establish how big the surname is, look at migration points – where folk migrated to and how they did. Look at what material is available online and with easy access. Bear in mind that only a fraction of what is available is online. Given that the fact that Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland was one Country until 1922, you might find that records exist in both the archives of Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland. Given that and the geographical distance from Ireland to England, you could look at FreeBMD and search for your surname. How many are there? You might also consider HOW you are going to keep data that you find? – input directly into a genealogical programme or downloaded to a hard drive or copied into a note book or even create a spreadsheet. FreeBMD data can be exported as a CSV file and imported directly into Excel.
  4. Focus on the elements of a project – This might include the distribution of the surname, using a mapping site such as public profiler or Surname Atlas. It might include the origin of the surname and the type of surname it is. For each element I recommend a plan to be written. It does not have to be fancy, just a note of what you plan to do.
  5. Create & Maintain a Research Log – This is really important as it enables you to track what you have looked at and what you have found, so be sure to record positive AND negative results.
  6. Managing Research Results is important, otherwise you will drown in data. Decide how you are going to process your data – enter it straight into a family history programme, or an Excel file. You could add to Evernote or One-Note. There is no right or wrong way, find what is best for you. Make sure that you record the citations of the information you find, perhaps this is a newspaper article, or information from a parish record, the purpose of a citation is essentially to share with others where you saw the information, so that they, if they wish can follow your research.
  7. Connecting with others – This is really important. Firstly you get to share your journey with others and you can connect with others who might share the same interest. You could set up a Facebook Group (or Page, although I prefer Groups). You might use a Twitter account, you might join organisations such as the Guild of One-Name Studies or Society of One-Place Studies, you could add your place to the Register for One-Place Studies. Another avenue to explore is the facilities of archives, libraries or museums – if your surname “hotbed” or place is located in a particular County check out the archives, include local museums and share your interest with them. They might help you connect with others with the same interest.
  8. Bring your data together – in this element we are concerned with family reconstruction, essentially putting families together, using primary source material. You can also draw out an individual timeline, such as I described HERE that way you can see what your individual was doing at a particular time and you can see what is missing and then consider where you could look for that data.
  9. Share Material – Having worked really hard to gather and expand your collected data, I would recommend enabling others to see it. You can do this in a variety of ways, write a blog, have a website, write articles, share stories via Facebook.
  10. Preserve Your Work – If you are a member of the Guild of One-Name Studies with a registered surname, you can signup to a Members Website Project. That enables you to advertise your study, display it for others and preserve it, all the while working on your project.

I am likely to write about these ten elements and how I undertake them in a project I am working on, so you have a working example to perhaps use as a guide.

Posted in Genealogy, One-Name Studies, One-Place Studies, Pharos - Introduction to One-Name Studies course | 1 Comment

Six Degrees of Separation from The French Lieutenants Woman to……

The #6Degrees meme occurs on the 1st of the month over at the blog, Books are my Favourite and Best which is written by Kate.

french lieutenants womanThe French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles is not a book I have ever read, although I might have seen the film.

This month I kick off with one of my favourites, France: A History: from Gaul to de Gaulle written by John Julius Norwich. franceThis is not a particularly academic book, but a plotted history of France. I love the way this author writes and it was in fact the next book I show here that prompted me to purchase this one.

sicilyThat book is Sicily by the same author. Anyone who has been reading this site for a period of time will known that I am half Sicilian. Something that I am very proud of. Sicily has had a variety of occupations, Arabs, Romans, Greeks and French, to name a few.

I am very process driven; so for me the best way to understand any country or to begin to research in that Country is to read about the general history, essentially setting the scene for that research, and this book does that.

seeking sicilyAnother book that I absolutely love is Seeking Sicily by John Keahey, this has a different approach to the Norwich book. It looks to contemporary Sicilians who have maintained the cultural changes of the Island and the legacy the earlier invaders left behind.

sicily genealogyMy final book on the Sicily theme is this one, Sicilian Genealogy and Heraldry. A must for anyone with Sicilian heritage written by Louis Mendola.

This is a very comprehensive book. It focuses on the Jewish in Sicily, Early history of the island as well as earlier settlers. There is a chapter on DNA and a variety of fascinating resources that can be accessed when researching Sicilian ancestry.

Having been a genealogist for a long time, I took rather a long while to have a DNA test. I eventually did and was fascinated with the break down on my ethnicity. Now, a number of DNA genealogists, those whose expertise exceeds my own do not set a huge amount by this, but for me there was a degree of accuracy that reflected the early foundations of occupiers of Sicily and I was drawn in to those discoveries. Having taken a test I needed to be able to understand the results, or at least a fighting chance of understanding them and for that I purchased my next book.

DNA Book -Blaine BettingerThe Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine Bettinger. I love this book. Not written in a patronising way, nor complicated manner. It is easy to see what you need to do in order to understand DNA results and what questions could, and perhaps should be asked.

When I am not researching, sometimes you just need a gentle genealogical fix whilst reading for non-research or academic purposes and of course there are books that enable that. Originally they were mainly by US author’s but over the last few years, some UK author’s have put in an appearance. I shall therefore end this month’s chain with this next book.

rett macphersonThis is the first in a US based genealogical series involving character, Tori O’Shea. Anyone who is partial to these types of books should consider this one and a few others. In fact I might even put a list of them together!

Thanks Kate for hosting another of these. I have enjoyed participating and now await for February’s instalment!

Posted in #6Degrees Meme, Books, DNA & Surname Projects, Genealogy | 2 Comments

Southern California Genealogical Society Webinar Series – European Surnames

SCGS - Webinar ImageI can now share with you that I shall be presenting to the Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS) webinar series in early December 2019.

The webinars are open to all live, before becoming a SCGS members benefit.

You can view the complete line up for 2019 HERE

To register for my webinar, European Surnames and How They Can Help in Genealogical Research click HERE

Posted in Genealogy, One-Name Studies, Presentations | Leave a comment

Planner & Notebooks – Individual Genealogical Timeline’s

Back in the summer I wrote this post about planners and notebooks. In response to a comment I mentioned that I often created specific pages for individuals where there were “document heavy” individuals.  I promised I would write more about it and realised that I have not done so, until now.

The two pages below relate to my fifth x Great Grandfather, Daniel Butcher (1720-1787). Daniel is an interesting chap. He was born in the rural parish of Bramley, Surrey in 1720. His family are well documented, in Bramley and neighbouring villages. Daniel himself, appears in a variety of parish documents, such as witnessing marriages, leasing land, paying Tithe as well as buying and selling various properties with his brother Richard.

Daniel Butcher (1720-1787)

We know from a variety of documents, that something happened between him and his brother Richard, because he was written out of the brother’s will and he was referenced rather scathingly in a will relating to his wife’s family. He was later removed from the Manorial Court and died the following year.

There were though two things that bothered me:

  1. I spent more than a decade searching for a marriage. I knew from other documents the name of his wife, Elizabeth Simmonds, but what I could not do was locate a marriage. I eventually located it in the parish of Tillington, Sussex in 1745.
  2. The second issue was the baptism of his children. I located a birth of daughter in 1761 in Bramley. I had already located the birth of his son, James born in 1775 and baptised in Shere, Surrey, from whom I descend.

In 1761, Daniel would have been 41 years old and by the time of his son’s birth he would have been 55. The gap between the children has always bothered me and the age of Daniel additionally so. I have searched across Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire for any marriages between a Daniel Butcher and Elizabeth Simmonds (or Simonds) and there are not any. I cast the net further and that also yielded nothing. Furthermore, I know they were certainly married to each other because I have a number of documents that support that, including them being mentioned in documents of other family members.

Could a couple be married for 16 years and not have any children? Well yes, it is possible. Infertility is not a modern issue, so there is possibility. Furthermore, there is the possibility of miscarriages. Then another 14 years between the birth of daughter Elizabeth and son James. It is quite possible that as a female heads towards the menopausal years that she conceives. At this period of time, there are no specific documents relating to these type of health issues, but they clearly could have existed.

It is quite a quandary and frustrating given the documents that I have, which are very specific. The timeline, drawn as you can see gives me a structure of dates and events. It also shows me where I have gaps in my data. For every fact mentioned on the timeline I have a document to support it.

The one thing that I am now seeking to verify is the age of Elizabeth upon her marriage. In 1745 the legal age of marriage was 12 for girls and 14 for boys and this might have bearing on the lateness of the baptisms for children. Also, we have the baptism records, that does not necessarily reflect when a child is born. It is typical for a baptism to take place whilst the child is still an infant but not necessarily so. Whatever the reason, money was not a factor as the family were well off.

I would be interested to hear any  theory’s or thoughts.


Posted in Butcher, Filofax, Journals & Notebooks, Genealogy, Surnames | 1 Comment

Evernote & OneNote – Decisions, Decisions!

Readers of this blog may remember that I moved the majority of my material from One Note to Evernote a few years ago, whilst keeping an archive within OneNote.  At the time I loved the interface of Evernote and did not mind paying for the extra upload facility. Sadly changes at Evernote within the last year have meant that I am reviewing the Evernote vs One Note facilities again, just in case there is an “issue” with Evernote.

I am a fan of the book by Kerry Scott who wrote Evernote for Genealogists and there does not, as far as I can tell, appear to be a similar book for OneNote. What there is though, is a scheduled webinar at FamilyTree Webinars with Tessa Keough and I am hoping that might encourage me to stop procrastinating and make a decision. You can register for the webinar HERE. There is also rather helpful Facebook groups for both Evernote and OneNote.

I am a great fan of pen and paper despite using these online note taking platforms. I do not see myself ever stopping writing and using pen and paper for research and random notes, but technology is great and I embrace its use, and feel much happier when a my product of choice remains the same. A particular thing I love is the Evernote web clipper and that is a great asset of the product. I am sure there is now a similar feature with One Note, but I have not used it.

I recently created something for publication using the early notes from OneNote and must say I was happy to have that structure. This has been a few years in the writing, and has been written piecemeal style, with adjustments as it goes into editing mode ready for publication.

If you are like me and deliberating between Evernote and OneNote I would be happy to read your thoughts and comments.

Posted in Archive - Imported from Blogger, Filofax, Journals & Notebooks, Genealogy | 2 Comments

Ramblings from my Desk…..(23)

It has been a very long time since I have had opportunity to sit and write a general post. I hope through 2019 they will be a bit more frequent, but I won’t promise!

The last six months or so has passed in an exhausted haze. I won’t bore you all with the details, except to say that I have moved house and whilst we knew we were moving, our date came forward by three weeks and it was a complete panic at the end, coupled with acute & chronic pain, it was quite an ordeal. That said, we are happy and settled. We are still getting ourselves organised and finding our feet, but overall, we are delighted and content. I can see about 3 foot of carpet in my office and there is not too much paper littering my desk, which I have established is pine! (There is a series of piles of paper in a plastic decorative box just to my left, awaiting for me to go through it), assuming I don’t trip over the box.

I am currently sitting at my desk in the early hours of Christmas Day, pondering on my late Mum, Christmas’ of my childhood and just remembering. Regular readers of this blog will know doubt recall that I used to blog daily during Advent. I haven’t this year. I have missed it, but simply have not been at my desk much since we moved and what time I have spent here has been on work or writing that had a deadline. I usually work ahead of deadlines, but this last quarter of 2018 has been frantic.

I feel that something has changed. What I felt was important six months or even longer ago is not necessarily so now, and I cannot recall when that change happened, just that it has. I love our new house and feel totally at peace.

I shall be back, later this week; I need to publish a series of posts that I had written in advance of October and then forgot to publish, so I shall publish those retrospectively. I also have a few other things that I want to share with you.

Merry ChristmasFor now, all that is left from me to say is Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays if you don’t celebrate Christmas).

Posted in Desk Ramblings! | 1 Comment

Family Tree Magazine 2019 – Surname Research Series


FTM Jan2019

Family Tree Magazine (UK) – January 2019 issue

In this month, the surname series continues with us looking at the first steps in undertaking a One-Name Study.

You can read more by looking through the posts I have previously written HERE, or by taking the Pharos introduction course. I shall be writing a bit more frequently here, once Christmas has passed!

Posted in Family Tree Magazine (UK) Surname Series (2019), Genealogy, One-Name Studies | Leave a comment

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine – January 2019

WDYTYAJan2019Several months ago I was asked by Jonathan Scott, who writes regularly for Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine if I would write the expert section for his feature on surnames which appears in the January 2019 issue of the magazine.

I of course was happy to oblige and featured a site I often recommend here and on the Pharos One-Name Studies course

The next course is scheduled for February 2019 and a new information sheet about the course has been produced by Pharos Tutors, and can be downloaded HERE

Posted in Genealogy, One-Name Studies, Pharos - Introduction to One-Name Studies course | Leave a comment

Book of Me 2018 Series Reflections

© 2017 Julie Goucher

In this post we are going to reflect on the 2018 series and kick off by revisiting the very first prompt from January.

  • Who Am I? List 20 things that describe you

Answer that question again and then go back and look at the answers you gave in January. Compare them; are there any changes? or surprises?

If you did an earlier series why not compare against those answers too.

This year’s series has been about getting to know yourself.  Not just for the benefit of future generations but so you can get to know you too. So often we simply get swamped with “life” and the demands made upon us that we don’t take the time to reflect on ourselves.

I hope you have enjoyed the series.

  • What has been your favourite prompt and why?
  • What was your least favourite prompt and why?
  • What were your challenges of the 2018 series?
  • What have you learnt about yourself?

If you have any questions or want to share thoughts or a blog link, if you decide to share via a blog (remember to, that you don’t have to share to take part in the series) then please leave a comment. Further discussion is also happening in the closed Facebook Group.

Stay tuned for the 2019 series!

Posted in Book of Me, Book of Me - Series 3 Getting to Know You (2018) | Tagged | Leave a comment