My experience of Starting Family History Research

Why do we start researching our family history when it's too late to ask our parents and grandparents? By the time I became interested, they had all passed away. I was given ample opportunity to get involved in my family history eight years earlier when I was contacted by Sharon, who had carried out a massive amount of research and was offering the results, free of charge! At least I was sensible enough to accept the offer, though the information remained filed away and largely un-read until quite recently.

It was not until I started online research myself a couple of years ago that I realised the value of the information which Sharon had given me. You see I was thinking too much about the way the information was presented, rather than appreciating the information itself. The research had taken 6 years to complete and had been carried out seemingly without a computer. The Family Tree which Sharon had compiled was mailed to me as 16 A4 photocopies of hand-written charts, with instructions on how to join them together. When joined together the result is quite cumbersome and the layout includes sections which have been squeezed in when new information was found. Not something you would want to frame and hang on the wall.

When I started my own PC-based research I started entering the information from the hand-written family tree into Family Tree Maker, verifying each fact from online sources and including the source media. It soon became apparent that the hand-written charts had some little nuggets of information that simply aren't available online. I believe that Sharon had carried out her research by a combination of mail-shots to CHRIMESs in Cheshire requesting family details, and personal research at Records Offices. Now that's what I call dedication!
Of course the hand-written charts gave me a tremendous head start when compiling my PC-based Family Tree.

So the moral of this story is: Don't dismiss information offered to you because of the way that it is presented. It's the information itself which counts. Having entered and verified the CHRIMES information onto my PC-based family tree, I then added the equivalent research of my mother's family. This tree has been uploaded to the ancestry website as a Public Member Tree called "CHRIMES and HASSALL of Cheshire" where it can be viewed by ancestry members. It is a conventional Family Tree with equal attention being given to males and females, unlike the research referenced on this website. One of my objectives was to identify my 16 great great grandparents, which I managed to do fairly easily using only online resources. All 16 of them were born within a 10 mile radius of Norley, Cheshire, where I was born. The male line of the tree is presented on this website within the branch called "Norley", see Data

Criticism of a hand-drawn chart is all the more inappropriate when you try to find a computer program which can do any better. I have found that computers are very good at collecting and storing data, moderately good at displaying it on a screen, but very poor at producing a printed chart.

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