• Get Closer to Your Family Whilst Physically Distancing (Part Two)

    Following activities 1-5  of this post, here are the last 5 things you can do to bring your family into focus at this time of being physically distant. We hope you enjoyed the conversation starters to get your relatives sharing their memories and that you're ready to dive a bit deeper into your family history!

    6) Look everybody up on FreeREG

    When the FreeREG project started with the ambition of transcribing all the Church of England registers from before civil registration began in 1837 (or later) it soon expanded to include registers of baptism, marriage and burial from other religious and secular organisations. The registers often contain information which is not available from the FreeBMD indexes.

    Been there, done that? 

    Try again - we are adding records all the time.  And use the new 'Unique Names' feature to see if Great Uncle Jonathan can’t be found because his name was misspelt.

    7) Call people again

    Now you have more information, call everybody again. You can ask more questions and check your research against people's memories.

    Been there, done that?  

    Use social media to see if anyone recalls deceased members of your family, or see if there is anything online about a school or other institution your ancestors were associated with. Famous ancestor? Make sure the Wikipedia article links to them on Wikitree or other publically available family tree. Check the Guild of One Name Studies to see if there are others researching the same name.

    8) Getting on a bit? Censuses are your friend!

    You may by now have people in your tree born more than 100 years ago. Three free resources you can use to find out more for people born before 1920:

    FreeCEN (if born 1891 or earlier). While not complete, the transcriptions are of high quality, and lots of detail is given that you may not find on other free websites, and the search engine is great if you are looking for more common names.

    FamilySearch (if born 1911 or earlier). More complete than FreeCEN, but the transcriptions do not give all the detail.

    Similar to a census, the 1939 Register basic search is free but after that, behind a paywall - make a note as you can often get free access at a public library, and you can visit once social contact is again possible.

    Been there, done that? 

    Use the census information (and information from civil and other registrations) to look deeper at the lives of your ancestors - the local museums and parishes and towns where they lived often have great resources, trade associations and professions and often have fascinating websites.

    9) Remember those who went before

    Whether you are an old hand, or new to family history, if you are still able to get out of the house (but need to keep in the open and away from others) you might like to visit graveyards that you’ve identified could commemorate your ancestors; you may find further information there. 

    You can ask others to go look on your behalf if you can’t get out, or by contacting relatives and friends living locally. Or you can answer requests from others, or record the graveyard on FindAGrave.

    You can also remember people by celebrating their birthday or marriage anniversary - perhaps via social media, perhaps by doing a little deeper research into their lives.

    10) Giving something back

    We’ve already mentioned a few ways you can support others interested in family history.  We hope that you have found the high-quality transcriptions on our websites FreeBMD, FreeREG and FreeCEN useful, and would love to have you as a volunteer. There are vacancies for transcribers on all three projects (at all skill levels). We also have vacancies for people to work on help pages (editing, or proofreading or using html), and a great need for Ruby on Rails, MongoDB, MySQL and HTML/CSS developers. Or you could make a financial donation to our work: £5 helps us get almost 400 extra records in our databases and £30 runs our servers for one day.

    If you have suggestions for improvements to these activities, or any others, please let us know in the comments.