A genealogist, Amy Johnson Crow, has posted the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, in which she is encouraging anyone with an interest in family history to share something about their family research each week, based on a weekly prompt. To begin with, the first prompt is “Start”.
I started my family tree at the end of 2013. My motivation came from a conversation with a group of people at work who were discussing their family origins. Someone asked where my family is from, and I told them I wasn’t really sure. I knew my ancestors had come from England and Ireland at some point, but I didn’t know when or exactly where they were from. After listening to one of the guys telling me about his various family connections, and his annual family reunion, I decided it’s time for me to do some research and find out more about my family history.
I was lucky enough that when I talked to my aunt on my mum’s side, Kathy, she had some birth, death and marriage certificates for my grand parents and great grand parents. Looking at these documents for the first time I was very excited to see how much information was available. In particular, Eliza Branson’s birth certificate had details of her birth, as well as her parents’ names, age and places of birth, and names of her siblings. I was instantly hooked and hurried home to start documenting.
From there the process was initially slow as I navigated the various sources available on the internet and the library. Initially I was spending time at the State Library to search the Victoria Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (most of my family grew up in Victoria), but once I discovered it was available at my local library I was able to visit more often and the tree started to grow much more quickly (recent updates to the Victorian Registry website means I can now find this information at any time without having to leave the house!).
Over the past four years my tree has grown from this initial handful of ancestors to over 400 individuals, with the first birth dating back as far as 1809 and ancestors having come from Ireland, Scotland, England, the United States (San Francisco) and New Zealand. I’ve discovered all sorts of sources and repositories, scanned images from old photo albums and met relatives I previously didn’t know existed, and my methods of researching and documenting information have evolved. I’ve come a long way in my research, and I look forward to sharing more about the process and my findings throughout the #52Ancestors challenge.