One of the most useful resources when exploring family history is an atlas, especially one giving both political and topographical features. I find historical atlases useful, too, as they enable me to compare changing political boundaries over time.
Does your family history involve changing boundaries and political upheavals?
Have you had a genealogical look around an atlas recently?
Online atlas with an interesting way to compare the history of Europe
Online atlas of world history
Online historical atlas of the 20th century
There are also many local maps, street directories, archive resources and other materials to explore. I am especially interested in my husband's Italian ancestors' connections with various Australian places in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their stories are unusual because very few Italians migrated to Australia until after the Second World War.
Perhaps I might find something useful and interesting through the following:
City of Sydney Map Collection
Queensland Historical Atlas
Melbourne University Map Collection
There are a few family history blogs with information I find useful - when I have time to take a look that is. Here are two I have found of particular interest:
Moonee Valley Family and Local History Blog
(Even though I have no known family connection with Moonee Valley itself, the blog has a wide range of useful themes and resources providing me with inspiration for my own research)
Anglo Italian Genealogy Research
(Even though I am mainly of Anglo ancestry with no Italian connection and my husband is only of Italian ancestry with no Anglo connection - except for marrying me of course - it is interesting to hear about non-Italian speakers experiences when attempting to obtain information from Italian sources)
I am also always on the lookout for people who may have research interests in common with my own, and particularly those who may already have done the searching I am intending to do.
It saves a lot of time and effort, and sometimes even money, if someone else has already done the work so I don't then need to do it myself. Perhaps you can recommend blogs and people who may be of interest to me:
Do you have Italian ancestors who came to Australia before the Second World War?
Do you have Belgian ancestors who went to England in the 19th century?
Does your family have a connection with coal mining in east Shropshire and/or south Staffordshire?
There are so many online resources that save time and money, too, especially when considering visiting a place (or not being able to afford a trip there).
I wrote an earlier blog post about the ways I use Google Street View to explore places in a virtual way. It is very convenient when I am trying to find out where my own ancestors lived. And it is especially nice to be able to avoid the expense of going there in person, without airports, jetlag, motorways, unpleasant weather and noisy hotels to contend with:
Research and nostalgia through Google Street View
Another very useful source, and one that I use quite often for all four of my blogs, is Wikipedia.
Wikipedia Commons Category: Maps of the history of the United Kingdom
Wikipedia Commons Category: Old maps of the United Kingdom
You may also find videos online of where your ancestors originated. Have you taken a look?
A video about my cultural heritage
But I did mention in my last blog post that I was going to take a break from writing blogs. What has happened to that?!
I thought I needed to tidy up and sort through my findings, yet again. For this reason, this is a very long blog post. It contains an overview of the whole of my research so far. Perhaps it is itself like an atlas!
It is also a time of year when I send out a great many more family history emails than usual. Do you map the past with the help of emails? Do you share photographs and information across distances of time and space?
Explore my approach to tidying up in a genealogical way
Reflect upon domestic views on being neat and tidy
You can probably see quite a few family photographs in the right hand column of this blog. They are of some of the people who will be featured in my postings next year. In the top picture, you may recognise my grandparents, Harry and Dorothy. The little girl is my mother and the boy is her late brother, Garry.
My grandmother is wearing a blouse we think came from Hungary. We do not know how Dorothy came to have a beautiful, embroidered Hungarian blouse, though. Do you know if it is Hungarian, and which part of Hungary it came from?
I am interested to know if you write about your family history in the same way that I write about mine.
Most of the documents I have collected, and my analyses of them, are mostly for the private benefit of close relatives. I do not publish many intimate details about my ancestors as I am sure they would be horrified if they thought the world could pry into their private matters, whether during their lives or afterwards!
But how much of a "public life" is appropriate for your ancestors now, and would they approve of what you write about them?
Here are some examples of blog posts mentioning my grandparents:
The working lives of ancestors
A Shropshire lad called Harry
Superstitions and traditions
Ancestry and privacy
The age of reflecting on age
Names and literacy
Liberty, Normandy June 1944
My grandmother's maiden name was Harris. Having a common surname is not very helpful to family historians! However, I have persevered and this has paid off in some wonderfully unexpected ways.
Staffordshire miner becomes Prime Minister of Australia
Something quite marvellous
I have not revealed either of my grandfather's surnames for reasons of privacy, especially for the benefit of my living relatives. However you may wish to know more about their lives and their families:
Harry's mother - Lily of Lawley Common
Harry's grandmothers - Emily or Eliza?
Songs my mother never taught me
On the right hand column here is the London Heritage picture of the Ginn family in 1901, part of my father's ancestry. The Ginns have already been mentioned a few times. Are any of your own relatives linked to the Ginns of Huntingdonshire, especially around St Neots?
Here are my three earlier Ginn blog posts:
Family discoveries in the Dardanelles
Being earnest with Alice in wonderland
Here are some more blog posts mentioning my great grandmother, whose maiden name was Annie Ginn:
My fair ancestors in Mayfair
Faces from the past
(from my By Any Other Name blog)
I also have a photograph of a mystery house I am still trying to identify. Perhaps you can help. To me, the house looks as if it is in a neo-renaissance style, meaning that it was likely to have been built when that style was still fashionable. The house may be in England or it may be in the United States.
Here is a Wikipedia article about the architectural style
I have also mentioned the topic of ancestry several times on my other blogs. Here are a few posts you might enjoy reading:
Growing older in Australia
Earth hour every hour
Age and identity
The real world
Then there are the three family history series I have written here at Ancestors Within, and elsewhere. Have you seen them?
The Mill in Ossolaro part one
and part two.
Part three of The Mill in Ossolaro is continued within a Continual Journeys blog post called Why Travel?
You can also find out more about the story in my blog posts called Via the independent scholar. and From Ossolaro to Australia.
The Spice of Life part one
At the Seaside part one
Returning to the right hand column of this blog, you will see a picture of a very glamorous young woman under the heading of Australian Heritage. Her name was Mary and her husband's name was Joseph. I think that is quite an appropriate thing to mention at this time of year, though they did not have a baby called Jesus as far as I am aware!
A picture of Joseph (to the right, not the couple above!) is under the heading of Basilicata Heritage further down the column, with a family group in between called Lombardy Heritage. Joseph and his sister Josephine were born in Australia and their parents were born in Basilicata. Josephine married a young man who came to Australia from Lombardy, and they became my husband's paternal grandparents.
Learn more about Josephine
Justice for Josephine
Unlocking Australia's past
Learn more about Josephine's family
Her maternal grandfather - A man from the Mezzogiorno
Her father - in search of - A better life
Her husband - Civilian internment in the Second World War
Another young man, who was born not far from where Joseph and Josephine's parents came from, may be familiar to you. He was known as Rudolf Valentino although his real name was Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Piero Filiberto Guglielmi. I think Joseph may have quite easily been a rival of his for similar roles in Hollywood, if Joe's parents had chosen a different migration destination.
We can often learn more about the lives of our own families by exploring the biographies of those who may have been more famous. My husband is not related to Rudolf Valentino as far as I am aware, though you may wish to see a photograph of the movie star on Wikipedia and compare him to Uncle Joe.
The Wikipedia article also gives an interesting background to conditions in Southern Italy during Rudolf Valentino's childhood - and perhaps it has cultural relevance to my husband's ancestry.
I have written a few blog post on other ways to gain insights into the social and cultural history of family members:
The art of knowing
Finding great grandparents
My heritage, your heritage, our heritage
Connect to your heritage
We are all related
Celebrities and you
Exciting new discoveries
Objects or subjects - your ancestors
Dealing with dark clouds and black sheep
Lost relatives regained
Taking the best of the past into the future
Public history and you
Where you are now
Important years in history
Community and commonality
A postcard from a stranger
You may like to know that Joseph became a sailor, a dental mechanic and a very good golfer. Both he and Mary had a long and happy life together, too. I think Uncle Joe was very glad he did not become a movie star!
You will see in the right hand column that there is a photograph entitled Belgian and British Heritage. The children look rather cold on the beach, don't they?! The picture was taken in the late 1920s, probably by their father Jack, whose own childhood is especially interesting to me:
A Carnaby Street childhood
Shadows of inheritance
1870s migration from Belgium to London
Much of my Spice of Life series (mentioned above) also relates to Jack's family.
I have mentioned family life in a more general sense on my other three blogs and you may also find those posts useful while exploring your own family history:
A perfect afternoon tea
Family honour and freedom
Imagine the sound of one world
Menial roles, higher goals and social enterprise
A respectful exploration of identity
Entertainment, friendship and identity
Theories of cultural identity
Virtual Via Nation
Of good moral character
Origins of family names
Uncertainty, rejection and art
Naming or shaming?
I hope I have mapped my family history research quite well in this blog post. It will be one of my main reference points in the year ahead.
At the bottom of the right hand column is an In Memoriam picture of Arthur Ginn, who died at Galipolli during the First World War. The picture above that is of my husband's maternal grandmother and great grandmother, who were also on the front line at the time, but in Italy in the Veneto.
Are your ancestors from the Veneto region, especially the Crocetta del Montello and Piave River area? Did they migrate to Australia after the First World War but before the Second World War? If so, you may like to get in touch with me and compare notes.
One of my tasks away from blogging will be to finish writing in a more private way (ie. not online) about the discoveries I have made over the past eighteen months or so, most of which have not been revealed here. One of my biggest struggles is the fact that I do not speak any Italian, or any Italian dialect, and nor does my husband.
An introduction to my task for next year:
Amazing genealogical discoveries
(Which I have not yet had time to write about in much detail)
Well, this is a deliberately long blog post, meaning that (hopefully) I will not need to write another one for quite some time. It may also give you an indication of why I rarely have time to leave messages on other people's blogs! Your comments on any of my posts are still welcome at any time, however, as are your email messages.
I wish you a very pleasant, peaceful and productive genealogical year in 2011.