02 October 2017

Respecting Ancestors

Many cultures practice some sort of veneration of the dead.

What does veneration mean to you?

What are your own cultural beliefs about death?

How do you reflect upon the inevitability of your own death?

What do you believe to be respectful towards the living, the dying and the dead?

And what do you believe to be disrespectful in each of those circumstances, and why?

27 September 2017

Time to Read

When I write blog posts, they are often mere notes of things I have discovered.  I am often too busy or too tired to check the words carefully before publishing them.  My writing is therefore usually initially published here as a draft.

In this way, I quickly offer a few snippets for other people to check themselves.  Much history research obviously involves checking and rechecking facts.  It also involves plenty of editing and re-drafting.

In 2009, I wrote about working families and genealogical studies.  My ancestors worked mainly because they needed money, or at least the money with which to pay for life's necessities.  I write this blog as a hobby.

In 2010, I wrote about celebrities, genealogy and your family history.  I do not have either the time or the interest to follow the lives of celebrities and learn about their ancestors.  Nor do I have time, other than generally through this blog, to assist with your family history, even if you want to pay me.

Also in 2010, I wrote about Lily of Lawley Common.  I am not sure if Lily had much time to read.  She was my great grandmother.

I want to have more time to read about the history of Lawley and nearby Dawley, preferably on paper or a small screen.  I prefer to type of a full-sized keyboard and to look at a large screen whilst doing so.

Recently, I came across an historical listing of Shropshire mines and mine owners.  That was a great find.  I have been searching for it for a long time.  Making the time to research is just as important to me as making the time to read, write and edit.

In 2011, I wrote something for people just starting out with family history research.  My own research began properly in December 2007.  I can't believe almost a decade has passed since then!

I did not have the time or the inclination to do the research earlier.  The online resources then were either difficult to locate or unavailable and I had other priorities.  The offline resources would have taken far too much time, money and effort to bother finding and I knew other relatives had struggled to find them in the past.

Nor did I have enough facts available about my great grandparents and their ancestors - so I would have to make the time to ask my older relatives quite a few questions.  When that time would become available became apparent to me about ten years ago.

By the latter half of 2011, I was getting to know great grandmothers quite well, and not only my own but also those of my husband.   There is a great deal more I would like to know about them all.  Could your great grandmothers read?

I have long been collecting recollections but not through audio or video recordings.  Most people of my acquaintance would be reluctant to talk if I recorded them in such ways. 

Nor have I written notes on most occasions.  My memory, and previously documented memories, have often had to suffice when listening to the answers to my questions.

Many people find questioning intimidating.  Their own memories may be faulty or their emotions may intrude upon their recollections of facts, particularly facts about events from long ago.  In my experience, older relatives prefer to reminisce about particular events while forgetting or ignoring other aspects of the past.

My mother's family history is tied up with the history of Coalbrookdale though most of her 19th century ancestors were involved in coal mining rather than iron production.  There is much still for me to learn about Shropshire history.  Do you know anything about the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust?  Have you recently visited its website?

Early last year, I wrote about Finsbury Park and London family history.  London sometimes seems further away from Shropshire to me than Australia does.  They are all like different worlds in the present.  How different were they in the past?

Making the time to read about a place, and a time, is usually easier when I have an interest in doing so.  When I was much younger, I often tried to learn about everything all at once and then became overwhelmed.  Even now, I tend to become overwhelmed by my own ignorance.

A few months ago, I mentioned the editing of Ancestors Within.  Since then I have been on my travels again.

Even when I do not have so many distractions, I find it difficult to concentrate on correcting mistakes in my writing.  As I was in England, visiting family, the weather gave me a little time to read.  It was often rainy or cold or threatened to drench me if I ventured outside.

Quite recently I haphazardly managed to put together a blog post on the coal war and family history.  My mother still has a coal fire in her cottage in the English countryside.  She urgently needs something better but is unsure what to do.  Mainly she wants to keep warm when she reads in the evenings.

Who or what are you attempting to understand at present, and why?

How are your ancestors assisting or hindering your understanding?

How has your reading been helping you?

True understanding is the most valuable gift.  Unlike shallow sentimentality, understanding requires time and knowledge and thought and care.   It is an expression of empathy.  And empathy can usually only occur with an understanding of the context of an attitude, belief or situation.

Happiness is often based on mutual understanding, a sense of belonging and of feeling appreciated.  Your happiness may or may not involve consanguinity.  It may or may not involve the activity of mirror neurons.  It may or may not involve nostalgia.

How may your time and knowledge and thought and care in relation to Ancestors Within become an expression of your most valuable gift?  And in which direction will your reading take you next?

04 September 2017

Useful Family History Information from Australia

I often find it frustrating when a genealogical website offers nothing more than a list of irrelevant links.  Fortunately, there are better information resources though they rarely reach the top of search engine listings.

Many interesting Australian genealogy and history websites and blogs are listed on Unlock the Past - including this one!