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Why are you a family historian?


Super Moderator
Staff member
Thanks Aidan. Like the magazine style idea as I want it to be easy to read and to keep the reader interested. I suppose it all comes down to who you expect your audience to be! Viv.


proper brummie kid
My journey began in 1999 in memory of my Mum who passed away the year before. Having never known her own mother who had died when Mum was just an infant, it was her life long desire to know her "maternal roots". We would often pull out the few photo's of my grandmother's existence and Mum would tell me the same stories she had heard as a child (little as they were).

While visiting Mum's graveside one weekend, I did a walkabout the cemetery and wrote down the inscriptions of her family. I went to my local library and asked the reference department for assistance. Within weeks, I was carefully opening my first box of microfilm to placed on to the reader. I was HOOKED! My one regret is not starting sooner, as my parents would have been delighted in the progress I've made on both my paternal and material side.


Super Moderator
Staff member
Sospiri. Some useful tips here thanks. I've tried to keep my research to my paternal side so far. Even by keeping to that side, I still drift off into so many branches with the result of having to deal with a mountain of paper. Despite using the laptop for all my research etc, for some reason I keep all my records on paper in the good old fashioned way. Not really given it much thought before now. How odd is that when you routinely use a pc for virtually everything else? Viv.


Ex-pat Brummie

I never throw anything away - you never know when you might want to look a little more carefully at, say, a signature, or you'd like to send someone a copy of the original document. But when someone contacts you and says "Did the husband of your great aunt Violet have a earlier wife called Mary Ann, if so, we might be related?", it's so much easier to give a quick answer than having to trawl through lots of paper.

It will also compute (in a fraction of second) the relationship, if any, between two people, e.g. third cousin twice removed! It's also easy to produce an indented list of the ancestors or descendants of a person - handy when you want to quickly send out some information to a query you have received.

On the matter of audio, a couple of years back, a cousin gave me a CD he'd made from an old reel-to-reel tape recording of a family gathering in the 1950s. most of the people now being dead. Fortunately he'd also given me some notes about who was speaking about what and when! I also have some recordings of my mother who passed away 15 years ago now. These are precious memories that once lost can never be retrieved and are well worth saving.

Brother's Keeper can be downloaded from https://www.bkwin.org/version6.htm

Go down the page to Download Full Program and and click on
Download FULL program BKSETUPE.EXE (English only, 11 megs)

It's shareware which has no time limits and is fully functional except for the fact that two reports are grayed out and you can't print to a file. However, the author has kindly provided a temporary password to try out these facilities if you look on the Help menu.

You can also export GEDCOM files that contacts can import into other genealogical programs and you can set up multiple databases within the same program. For instance, I have both both my family database and my research into a Victorian singer set up separately within BK. It's easy to switch between one or the other.

It's a fairly swift learning curve with good help menus and I'm sure you'll soon get to grips with it. I now have over 3200 names on my family database and another 100 for that of actress/singer Marie LONGMORE.

Apologies to the Mods if I've drifted slightly off topic.

Maurice :cool:


master brummie
My research into my family started with a photograph of my great grandmother in a locket which used to belong to her and was passed down to me.
She looked very' grumpy', and both my uncle and my mother were not too fond of her! On looking into her history I discovered on the 1911 census she had 12 children of whom only half survived, a husband who drank and eventually left her. I think I might have looked abit 'grumpy'. However, we will never know her circumstances, and he may have had good reason to leave her! But this hooked me or should I say obsessed me.
When I was young I collected postcards, and stopped at the beginning of the 70's when I married. However, I never threw them away approx 2000. We have been trying to have a bit of a clear out (I empahasise the word 'trying'). Any way they are now out of the loft and I have been reading through them, it is amazing to see cards from people I have forgotten about. The places family members went to and the things they wrote on the cards. This includes myself who sent my mother a short grocery shopping list for my return! How formally people addressed one another to Mrs So So So from Mrs xyz, or in some cases Dear Friend. I have a card written by my grandmothe'rs sister , postmarked a day before my grandmother died......she would never read it. They really are a wealth of information, My father and my uncles worked at the GEC I have lots addressed to various Depts there. ( Must sort them out and put something on the GEC thread) .

I could go on....I won't but all these things spur me on and I suppose make me the family historian...if only I can make others interested.!



Linda how fascinating to have your collection of post cards especially as they are connected to you and your family. I have loads of postcards but not many connected to my family. I am sure we would love to see the ones from GEC when you have time.


Super Moderator
Staff member
Agree Wendy. A lovely piece of family history, so hang on tight to those postcards Linda! I'd love to have similar in my family but, alas, nothing has turned up so far. Viv.


Super Moderator
Staff member
Thanks for your advice Sospiri. Will look into bkwin. Another great thing about family history is you're constantly learning new things, not just about your ancestors, but how to deal with your findings too! Viv.


master brummie
I only started because my brother passed the job over to me when I retired, if I had known how much time and money it was going to cost me, I think I might have told him where to go.

Of course, I have loved every minute of it, and am still researching the "Black Country" side of the family that we never knew existed, the Chambers and the Colliers.

Barrie I knew a 'Chambers' family who lived CranleIgh Crescent, Broadway, Hill Top, West Bromwich, and others at Hill Top proper. Any relations of yours perhaps?


knowlegable brummie
I started in the late 70s, after finding a little, privately-printed book of poems and essays by one of my grandfather's forebears. Most were about the writer's family, so I was able to piece together who they were and to draw out my first wobbly tree from that. The family turned out to have been Staffordshire stonemasons, then civil engineers building canals and later railways - and of course that led me into a wealth of social history, plus contacts (and even visits) with today's descendants in Hungary, Australia and Canada.

Like Viv, I have been wondering how to get this down on paper in a readable form. The computer is great for organizing tree info, but nothing beats paper for longevity.

Of course, as the "family historian" one is the butt of humour for everyone else in the family, but I expect they will be grateful in the long run...