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Beautifully illustrated family history books with a difference by a frequent contributor to the UK family history press. I write for Family Tree Magazine UK; Discover Your Ancestors Online Periodical and Bookazine; Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine. The publishers of my family history books are Pen and Sword Books and The History Press. I tweet (and retweet) thought-provoking content designed to help you tweak your approach to (your family) history at @RuthaSymes . Do follow me.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016


Tracing Ancestors Through Letters and Personal Writing (Pen and Sword, 2016)


Could your ancestors write their own names or did they mark official documents with a cross? Why did great-grandfather write so cryptically on a postcard home during the First World War? Why did great-grandmother copy all the letters she wrote into letter-books? How unusual was it that great-uncle sat down and wrote a poem, or a memoir? Researching Family History Through Ancestors' Personal Writings looks at the kinds of (mainly unpublished) writing that could turn up amongst family papers from the Victorian period onwards - a time during which writing became crucial for holding families together and managing their collective affairs. With industrialisation, improved education, and far more geographical mobility, British people of all classes were writing for new purposes, with new implements, in new styles, using new modes of expression and new methods of communication (e.g. telegrams and postcards). Our ancestors had an itch for scribbling from the most basic marks (initials, signatures and graffiti on objects as varied as trees, rafters and window ledges), through more emotionally-charged kinds of writing such as letters and diaries, to more creative works such as poetry and even fiction. This book shows family historians how to get the most out of documents written by their ancestors and, therefore, how better to understand the people behind the words.



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Daily Ideas for Christmas From Your Ancestors - 20 - Please Put a Penny in the Old Man's Hat

Give A Little To Charity

'CHRISTMAS CHARITIES AT BELFORD:  Mrs Clark, of Belford Hall, has kindly distributed, through the Vicar, 20 beef tickets to the poor people of the town; while a lady of the church, according to her usual custom, has ordered a number of blankets and flannel petticoats to be disposed of in the same way. The Vicar and Churchwardens are also given 20 tons of coals to the deserving poor of the town and neighbourhood.

Morpeth Herald,  27th December 1890'

Halfpenny Dinners For Poor Children In The East End: Wikimedia Commons
CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)]

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