Hello. I’m Natalie and you should know that I’m deeply madly crazily in love with researching family histories.
The photo above is of me and my Great-Gran. I’ve put it here because I blame my Great Gran for my genealogical obsessions! She told the most fantastic tales about her family. There was Frank Davies, who died falling off the runner board of a car. Apparently, he was valiantly escorting a lady to water?!?!? There was Gran’s mythical and unknown father. A pedlar? A Cardiff boot-maker? There was her absent mother and the warm and loving Jones family that brought her up. Gran’s stories were filled with tragedy, drama and often a healthy dose of comedy. They were mesmerising.
Before she was regaling me with her tall tales, Gran was inspiring my Mum. It was Mum who started to researching our family tree. She wanted to discover which of Gran’s stories were true, and which were figments of her vivid imagination.
This was long before the days of internet research and despite Mum’s best efforts her search slowly stalled. She had two small children, her time and funds were limited. Records were difficult to access and costly.
It didn’t matter that Mum hadn’t researched very far back in time. The research that she had accomplished was meticulous. Even more importantly she’d put it in a social-historical context.
As a young child I remember being captivated by Mum’s blue ring-binder stuffed full of documents. There were photos, maps, notes, museum leaflets. All sorts of documents and images had been used to explore the lives of our ancestors.
We’d cuddle up on the sofa, blue binder on our laps. Mum would explain each of the individuals she’d found. She’d teach me about documents, like censuses or birth certificates. She’d re-tell Gran’s stories, and add more tales based on her discoveries. I remember running my fingers over faded pages of family questionnaires, completed by distant relatives that I’d never met. I was entranced and wanted to know more.
Years later I went off to University and at about the same time records began to become available online. The 1881 census was free to view, and soon the 1901 census was released. Together, Mum and I picked up the search to find out more about our ancestors. We’d spend hours on the phone together sharing our research and devouring the new online records.
My University days are long behind me and I have children of my own now. Eighteen years have passed since I first started discovering my ancestors. My love of genealogy has never waned.
I’ve started my own One Name Study on the Pither(s) surname and have branched out to researching other people’s trees.
At Uni I studied English Literature and afterwards I went on to work within Project Management. I think genealogy allows me to combine my fascination with stories with my knack for planning and organising! I take joy in the problem-solving, research management, organising and documenting side of genealogy – just as much as I love learning about the lives of all the individuals that make up a tree.
Engaging with your family history enables us to connect with wider social history. Each ancestor’s story is linked to the history of it’s time. For example, a London ancestor that fell victim to a cholera epidemic is part of a wider history concerning the public health of England. Each story connects you with the history of the period, and place, that each group of your ancestors lived in.
Engaging in family histories reminds me that we are all influenced by the lives of others. It is part of being human. We are all connected. Our ancestors were each other’s kinsmen, friends, neighbours. The lives of our ancestors are connected to the lives that we live now – and our lives are connected to the lives of future generations.
It’s this sense of connection that has led me to start this website. I want to connect to others tracing their trees, and to the lives of those ancestors that they seek to uncover. I want to share my stories, research, tips and tricks and (hopefully!) connect with you.