Every year WDYTYA always heralds this changing of the seasons and is a reminder to get on planning my own research for next year however the months when the show is scheduled also offer a last chance to enjoy being out and about before the winter kicks in. The evenings are not a time for sitting watching television when there are plenty of other things to be done like clearing the garden or exploring cemeteries and other ancestral haunts! It is time to look forward to drawing the curtains early in forthcoming winter months and discovering more family history so spring can be greeted with a jam packed new ancestral tour schedule. The format of Who Do You Think You Are 2013 has very clearly highlighted the steps along the ancestral journey that can be followed.
If you haven’t tried it, the experience is not reserved for the celebrities amongst us although the wearing of nineteenth century diving gear is not obligatory – hats off to Sarah Millican who literally and emotionally took the weight of her ancestors on her shoulders.
As highlighted in the show
1 Have a cuppa with friends and family find out more.
Start with what you know. Ask questions. Write down what you discover and those ancestors you would like to find out more about.
2 Draw Up Family Tree.
The show skims over this bit somewhat. It probably wouldn’t make that good television although as a researcher this is one of the most thrilling parts of genealogy and family history.
Start with your chosen person; you, your mother/father - (your spouse, your children make good starting points too) and concentrate on the Genealogy i.e. who begot who.
Use the basic blocks of genealogical research - Births Deaths and Marriages and Census Records which are available back almost 200 years in the UK and research further back with the evidence you find from the previous generation. Have a clear aim: research a particular line or number of generations in mind at the outset. Stop there and spend the dark nights of the coming winter months filling in some further details about your Family History.
3 Pick out the extraordinary or what fascinates you.
With ancestors doubling every generation there is plenty to discover. Find out more about a place or person, a trade, did they serve in WW1. Search for them in historical online newspapers. There are plenty more of local and historical sources on line for finding out background information and archives, museums and libraries make great places to visit at any time of the year. The variation and amount of sources available has been very well highlighted on the show this year. So whilst the show skips over initial genealogy research the proportion of air time spent on family history later is a balance well struck. There is so much more that you can discover over and above the names and vital information for your ancestors, like many of the celebrities you may feel you actually get to know them personally.
4 Explore and Experience. Get out there on an genealogy tour next spring or if you have Scottish ancestors take a vacation in Homecoming 2014.
5 Present and share your discoveries with your audience – your friends and family, online or in person – tell Old Scottish about it here.