Since writing Meet Your Ancestors, Diane Marelli has gone on to expand on her own research and has traced a branch of her family history as far back as 1565, one of her husband's to 1610 and various other branches on both sides deep into the 1700s.
It’s remarkable how things have changed in the short time since 1998 when I first began researching family history. No longer do I have to travel to London week after week, using up my free time in the pursuit of my ancestors. I now research when it suits me and from the comfort of my home. Since writing my last book there has been a heartbreaking change in my family history. My mum developed a brain tumour and after a traumatic time fighting for her life we lost her on Valentine’s Day in 2005. Due to these circumstances, I stepped away from researching, thinking I would never get back into it, yet a year on from Mum’s death I started to remember some treasured moments including two in particular. Her joy when I presented her with her own family history providing some answers to difficulties she faced as a child, and her pride when Meet Your Ancestors was published in 2003. My only consolation is that I was able to share my findings with Mum, in complete contrast to the sadness I felt at not being able to share similar results with my father-in-law.
So here I go again wending my way down the never-ending path of discovery to my ancestors and although I am still unable to record the final detail of Mum to my family tree, I am once again hooked by the yearning to learn more about the life and times of my family. The journey continues.
Picking up the threads is not as difficult as you might imagine because although your life moves on and you will have new additions, marriages or deaths in your present-day family, the history of past generations remains exactly the same. The beauty of this pastime is that temporary abandonment does not change what history has recorded; in fact a break from research can prove to be an advantage, as I found out.
After selecting which branch of the family I was going to work on, I logged into some of my favourite websites and discovered a wealth of additional information. Amazingly, within a relatively short time I had solved a few mysteries regarding my own family and filled the gaps in a five-generation pedigree of my husband’s family history. Delighted with my findings I began investigating other ancestors that had previously eluded me and again started producing favourable results. It was then that I began to question why I was suddenly able to achieve so much so quickly. Perhaps I was just more experienced. Or maybe the break from research had cleared the debris of facts from my head enabling clear-minded focus on the task in hand. I accept I am more experienced and admitted, my head isn’t spinning with thousands of names and dates, as it was over two years ago, but the real answer is that due to the Internet, researching is much more accessible now. Having so much information available at the touch of a button, the time to think and analyse and with all my research to hand, I can manipulate information quickly and efficiently without worrying about whether I will find what I am looking for before the Family Record Centre or the Society of Genealogists closes that day. The great thing about researching today is that the Internet never shuts and at any given time – day or night, seven days a week – I can choose when I want to research. I could even take my laptop on holiday and with the help of technology I could research sitting on a beach! Not that I have, well not so far. Obviously, there will only be so much I can achieve via the Internet before I will have to venture out from the comfort of my home, but for now I am fully occupied with the wealth of material available on the Internet.
It was then that I began to wonder how many of you out there would love to research your own histories but cannot because you do not have the luxury of living in the area of your research or near the locations where archives are held. Maybe you are confined to home because of family commitments, as I am at the moment. You might have poor health or time constraints holding you back. All of these circumstances a few years ago would have made it difficult to embark upon your ancestral search, but not any more. I am going to show you how you can make real inroads into your own histories without having to put a foot outside your own front door.
This book will show you how to start building the history of your ancestors. Using only the Internet and working with several browsers at once you will source Birth, Marriage and Death registers (BMD) and order certificates; locate and access Census and Parish Record information, build and expand your tree through a combination of other resources and finally, record and store your findings. By the end of this book you will be able to provide your children and future generations with a picture of how their families evolved over at least five generations.