Gransnet forums


Online or In Person research?

(14 Posts)
mollie Sun 26-Jan-14 17:07:15

When I began in 1985 research had to be done at a record office and as I lived in London and had an extensive London family history that was fine. Moving away from London coincided with the internet becoming popular and now so much research can be done at home via the internet. But not all records are digitised so I'm wondering how many of us do visit record offices or archives for research purposes?

durhamjen Sun 26-Jan-14 17:24:34

Depends what I'm looking for.
Lots of the information I want I have looked for online, but I am looking for pre 1820 stuff now, which is difficult to find online.
I have been to County Hall, Durham archives, and found the people there not as friendly as those in Hull History Centre.
I have been to Woodhorn Colliery in Northumberland, near Ashington, which has all the mining stuff in Northumberland and Durham. My mother in law wanted to know if they had any details about the pit accident where her father had his back broken when a pit prop fell on it. So my husband and I went to ask, about three years ago, and were told that they could not release records for 70 years, so we told her. It turned out the accident happened before she was born in 1922. But I haven't been back there since. He fathered three daughters after the accident!
I used to like going to York library to look at all their records, but when we moved up to Durham, they were thinking of having the City records sent to the Borthwick Institute at York University. I do not know if that happened.
I like the idea that you can now have one ticket for record offices in the County Archive Research Network that lasts for three years so you do not have to get a separate one for each record office.

mollie Sun 26-Jan-14 17:30:22

Interesting. I've found some archives are more welcoming and accessible than others so welcomed the move towards digitised records at least for the initial search. Strangely, my Canadian cousin finds our archives VERY helpful when she makes email enquiries and comes up with all sorts of bits of information that way...I wish I had her knack!

Nelliemoser Sun 26-Jan-14 23:38:48

There is no real substitute for visiting local record offices in person.
They have local wills and newspapers and I got a big lead with a Cheshire "Pigots directory" in the Liverpool record office which revealed a significant Liverpool ancestor in Chester in the 1830s..

mollie Sun 26-Jan-14 23:59:44

Glad to hear it Nelliemoser... it's been ages since I've had a breakthrough but maybe this year...???

durhamjen Mon 27-Jan-14 00:02:29

I think findmypast has directories online now, but it's not like holding the real thing, is it?
The problem is that it's not always possible to go to all the local records offices.
Even just Yorkshire has three Ridings, and the offices are in Northallerton Leeds, Beverley, Hull and York. I have relatives from all the Ridings.
One of my ancestors moved around a lot in the early 1800s and I have found out about him by looking at the newspaper archives in findmypast.
Piggots and Slater's directories are on Ancestry, and they have told me where they were living. Another interesting but sad find was that they had another boy who died at a year old. He was not listed in any of the family trees that I saw. They had 3 children born in Hull, then 3 in Lincoln, then 3 in Leeds. After the son died they moved back to Hull.
The sons are quite easy to trace because they had matriarchal surnames as Christian names, Bowes, Lawer and Foster.
Another interesting resource is the poll book. If your ancestor owned a property he was entitled to vote. The poll books tell you for whom he voted. The poll books are on Ancestry.

Elegran Mon 27-Jan-14 00:14:27

Most of my ancestors lived around the area where Sussex, Surrey and Kent all meet. Their records are scattered among the various county record offices. Wherever I looked, whatever I wanted was usually in one of the others.

durhamjen Mon 27-Jan-14 00:30:23

Yes, I found that out, Elegran. The other thing was, I would go armed with lots of information to find out more, and I quite often found I had more information than the record office, because I'd found out more online.
It's annoying when they change the boundaries. Do you have a Family History Society that covers that area.
I have relatives in the Newcastle/Gateshead area, and found out that Sunniside covers the whole area I want, which is useful to know.

grannyactivist Mon 27-Jan-14 00:55:55

I've done almost all my research online and in the past I have subscribed to Ancestry, but this year I've transferred my allegiance to FindMyPast - in order to get the best of both worlds hopefully.
One thing I did find was the most amazing coincidence: Although I met my husband in Norfolk we are both from the Northwest; me from Manchester and him from Bolton (although his family on both sides come from Wigan). I discovered on an 1891 census search that my great-grandfather actually lived on the same street, in a small Lancashire hamlet, as my husband's great-great-grandfather. smile

durhamjen Mon 27-Jan-14 01:10:01

Wow, Grannyactivist, that's amazing.
That's a good idea of yours, having each website alternate years.
I do find that gransnet gets in the way. I'm either doing research, campaigning about the NHS or other government problems or on gransnet.
I feel a need to find out more about my and my husband's family while I can.

Elegran Mon 27-Jan-14 09:17:39

When, like me, you live at the other end of the country from where your ancestors did, most research is online. I have spent holiday trips in various places so as to access records. Inevitably I would realise once I got home that I had missed possible leads to follow up, which would not be checked for at least another year - if I could persuade DH to go back there again.

mollie Mon 27-Jan-14 09:18:19

I'm planning an archive visit very soon, the first for a very long time. I never know if it's better to go with a few specific questions to try and answer or just to trawl the archive and gather everything and anything that looks useful - the reason being (obviously) that I might not get back there again! Trouble is, that doesn't feel very sensible, more like panic buying just before Christmas! Looking at my numerous files I can see the evidence of this panic-gathering, lots and lots of unrelated information held 'just in case'... is it just me?

Anniebach Mon 27-Jan-14 09:33:16

I am unable to travel so visits to Archives are out for me, I have to depend on Ancestry, Find my Past etc and the telephone for Archives . I was most fortunate when researching my paternal roots, I transcribed BMD and Baptisms for the county where they all lived, took several years but so worth it

ayse Mon 27-Jan-14 16:52:06

I lived in Turkey for 5 years approx. and used the time to track down my family tree. I used Genes Reunited an Ancestry and managed to make contact with other people researching the same trees. Very useful because they often had info that I did not and vice versa. I did try Find my Past but at the time it was not so effective - not sure about now. You can also ask for help if you are stuff - Family tree forum is particularly good

I did solve one mystery for another distant cousin. I received a photo from her and she asked if I knew who it was - well it was my great uncle so I wrote and told her and this confirmed the links that we had made but were not 100% sure about. So computer was great. I also used a site called Curious fox and quite a number of other free sites plus a DD gave me an excellent book.

Just now I haven't had time to do any for a while but I need to go to records offices now as I need to search for stuff that I don't think is online but who knows these days

Happy Hunting - it can be very addictive