Week 1 — Start

I am going to start this blog with some context. I have been researching my family tree for about ten — eleven years, since my early teens, and I have recently discovered a year-long writing challenge that will allow me to talk about such research. The challenge, 52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks, revolves around a new prompt each week for me to write about in regards to my family tree. In the first month, the five prompts include ‘Longevity’ and ‘Invite To Dinner’. The first entry? ‘Start’.

What inspired me at the age of about 12 to delve into the lives of dead people? Well my paternal grandfather was gifted with a hard-copy of his family tree in the early 90s, about 1990/1991, from my parents. When he first received the gift, he had three grandkids under the age of five; now he has nine all between the ages of nineteen and thirty. I distinctly remember being in his small office where the tree was hung, with my cousins focused on a Windows’ computer (this was the early days of Apple or maybe even pre-Apple), looking at the tree and only seeing eleven familiar names. So the fact that my brother and two of many cousins were on it and I wasn’t definitely played a part in my initial dive into family history.

There was another reason though. The names I didn’t recognise, I wanted to find out about them. I wanted to know who these names belonged to! What sort of people were they? Good ones? Bad? The seed of curiosity was planted in my head at such a young age and hasn’t really left since.

There is an element of coincidence/timing though when I started getting to genealogy/family tree research because the Sunday Times was doing a free giveaway at the time and if you bought that particular week’s edition, you got a free genealogy CD. I can’t remember the name of it or if we still have it but there were a number of features I loved about it. It would put together a list of kinship for anyone on your tree, naming all of their blood relatives, being one of them. But the most prominent feature I remember was the fact that it notified me every time I added a hundred relatives. At the time, between my Granda’s hard-copy of his family and everything that I knew about the rest of my family, I had just over 200 people on that early version of the tree. That felt like so many people at the time, quite different to what I have now, but it was a starting point.

From there, I would go on to join ancestry.co.uk and build upon my research, finding records, unearthing family secrets and most importantly learning about the names on both sides of the tree.