Essential Reading

'I have been a family historian for more than 40 years, and a professional historian for over 30, but as I read it, I was constantly encountering new ways of looking at my family history....Essential reading I would say!' Alan Crosby, WDYTYA Magazine

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Family First - Find out more about your ancestors in their family roles

Find out how your ancestors lived as fathers, mothers, sisters, daughters, children, sons, daughters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, neighbours and associates.

Family First:Tracing Relationships in the Past

by Ruth A. Symes

(Pen and Sword, 2015)

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Husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, children, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents – these are the relationships that structure the family tree and fascinate the family historian. But how much do we really know about how our ancestors lived out these multiple roles? Buffeted this way and that by economic developments, legal changes, medical advances, Two World Wars, the rise of the Welfare State, women’s emancipation and many other factors, relationships between members of our family in the past were subtly different to those of today and continually transforming. 
This book is both a social history of the period 1800-1950 and a practical guide on how to set about tracing and better understanding the relationships between members of your own family. What did it mean to be a father in this period, but also, how might you discover the father of an ancestor if his name is not mentioned on the birth certificate? What common ideas were held about the role of wives and mothers, but also, how were multiple births, stillbirths, abortions and infanticides dealt with in the records? What factors might have influenced the size of your ancestor’s family, but also why were its children named as they were? Did pecking order in a family matter, but also, was it legal to marry a cousin, or the sister of a deceased wife? How long could people expect to live, but also what records can tell you more about the circumstances of your ancestors’ last years? A final chapter considers relationships with neighbours, friends and club associates.

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It Runs in the Family - Find out more about your ancestors' physical appearance and their personal effects!

It Runs in the Family: Understanding More About Your Ancestors 

by Ruth A. Symes

(The History Press 2013)

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In the quest to uncover our family history, we turn to written records, the family album and even heirlooms. However, they can often be difficult to interpret and sometimes pose more questions than they answer: Why didn’t my ancestors smile for the camera? Why did great-grandfather wear a beard while his sons were clean-shaven? Why is my great-grandmother holding flowers in this photograph? Drawing on evidence from social history, women’s history, and the histories of photography, art and fashion, and using examples from the lowly as well as the famous, Ruth Symes explores many aspects of ordinary life in the past – from the state of the nation’s teeth, to the legal and economic connotations of wearing a wedding ring and even the business of keeping a dog. This fascinating volume aims to help family historians get to know their elusive ancestors by deciphering the wealth of personal and historical clues contained in photographs, documents and artefacts.

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Unearthing Family Tree Mysteries - Investigate the Rumours in Your Family History

Find out how to investigate the rumours that circulate around your own family tree: 

Unearthing Family Tree Mysteries 
by Ruth A. Symes
(Pen and Sword, 2016)

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The intriguing characters in these real family history mysteries include an agricultural labourer who left secrets behind in Somerset when he migrated to Manchester, a working-class woman who bafflingly lost ten of her fourteen children in infancy, a miner who purportedly went to live with the Red Indians and a merchant prince of the Empire who was rumoured to have two wives. This book shows how a variety of sources including birth, marriage and death certificates, censuses, newspaper reports, passports, recipe books, trade directories, diaries and passenger lists were all used to uncover more, and how much can be detected by setting the characters from your family tree in their proper historical backgrounds. This book is an updated edition of my previous book, titled Stories From Your Family Tree: Researching Ancestors Within Living Memory (2008).

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Ideas for Christmas from your Ancestors (5) : Hang Apples from Your Tree !

Hang Apples From Your Tree!

'For a big tree, red apples tied on with bright ribbons, gilded nuts, bags of sweets, chocolate animals in silver paper, lengths of tinsel and crackers, all add to the decorative effect at small cost.'

Lancashire Evening Post, December 22nd 1938

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