Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Guest Post - Using vintage postcards to add to family and local history research by Kate Cole

Today I would like to welcome Kate who write at Essex Voices Past and is a contributor at Worldwide Genealogy. Kate is celebrating the publication of her book with a book tour and I am therefore delighted to be included on the tour.

Therefore, without further ado.....

Firstly, I would like to thank Julie for allowing me to write a post on her blog during my week long blog-tour of history-related blogs.  
My tour is to celebrate the publication of my first local history bookBishop’s Stortford Through Time, (a small market town in east Hertfordshire) and I’m touring the world, via the internet, writing about “all things family/local history”.
Today’s post, on day 5 of my tour, is about using vintage postcards to help with family and local history.  Throughout my book, I used vintage postcards to show “then” photographs of areas of Bishop’s Stortford a hundred years ago, compared with modern day “now” photographs.  Comparing the “then” photograph to “now” can clearly show how a town has changed over the last 100 years or so.

The old and the new seen through the photographs of Bishop’s Stortford

Our ancestors were prolific senders and receivers of postcards: small rectangles of strong cardboard measuring precisely 5½ inches wide by 3½ inches tall.  There is a great deal of information on the internet about how these pieces of cardboard evolved into being one of the major forms of communication around the world, from the late 1890s right up to the modern age.  The period of time today’s blog post is about is known as the “Golden Age” of postcards - roughly the late 1890s to end of the Great War.  By the height of the “Golden Age”, there was (nearly) always a picture on the front, and the back of the card was divided into two sections.  One the left side, the sender would write a short message, and on the right side there was room for the recipient’s name and address.  The fronts of the postcards varied considerably: (nearly) anything went - from cute pictures of fluffy cats, to risqué pictures of half-dressed beautiful young ladies, to views of local towns and villages.
Postcards were the twitter of their day. Millions upon millions of postcards were sent throughout the world every single year.  Everybody sent postcards - from soldiers in the trenches in Flanders writing home to their families during to the Great War, to people sending loved ones short but succinct messages demanding that they “meet me at the station, I’ll be on the 2pm train tomorrow”.  (In those days, postcards got to recipients much quicker than today’s post!)
Collecting vintage postcards from this “Golden Age” can greatly add to your own family and local history research.  It’s probably obvious what benefits the use of vintage postcards with scenic street views or social history photographs can have to local and/or social historian: being able to see a town or village’s past through the lens of a contemporary photographer.  But what about other uses for vintage postcards for historians?

Social history postcard of Great Dunmow’s 1913 Whit-Monday Horse and Cart parade. A vision of a rural community before it was changed for ever by the horrors of the Great War.
Family History
Hunting out your ancestors on the postcards of their local towns or villages as part of your genealogical research can be immensely rewarding.  If your ancestors were well-known in their own locality, or were tradesmen or publicans, then you may spot your own family on vintage postcards.  I have been incredibly lucky that my great-great aunt and uncle (my great-grandmother’s sister and her husband) were respected publicans and citizens of Great Dunmow, a small town in Essex.  My great-great uncle was also an outspoken amateur politician in the years prior to the Great War.  He and his family have turned up in many postcards of the town of Great Dunmow from the 1900s until just before 1914.  I would recommend searching auction sites such as eBay and entering in the (hopefully unusual) surnames of your ancestors and/or the town/village they lived in. 

The Royal Oak public house in 1910 – covered in election posters.  Its owner, James Nelson Kemp (my great-great uncle), standing in the doorway.

Gordon Parnall Kemp (my grandfather’s cousin) in the family’s horse and cart outside his father’s pub, The Royal Oak.  His father, James Nelson Kemp, is standing in the doorway looking at his son.  A young man in this pre-1914 postcard, Gordon was killed in action amongst the blood, mud and horror of the Battle of Passchendaele in September 1917.
Dates of Postcards
If you look at the fronts of social history/street scene postcards and try to date the card’s view, you do need to be cautious when attempting to establish an accurate date.  If the postcard has a clear postmark, do not rely on it being the precise date of the postcard’s view. Postmarks can only be a rough estimate of the date of the postcard – sometimes people purchased postcards but used them many years later.  Or shops and photographers kept old stock for many years. Therefore, postmarks (or a dated message on the back) are only ever the last possible date of that postcard’s view.

This postcard of Great Dunmow’s High Street originally caused me great problems identifying the year of the view.  Finally, after I’d managed to compare it with other postcards of the same street scene and looked at the photographer’s own serial numbers, I was able to establish that although the message had been written on in 1918, the image was in fact from the early 1900s.  Because of the serial number on the postcard, it is likely that the person who sent the postcard had had it in his possession for many years, before finally sending it home from France in 1918. 
Reuniting postcards with their “rightful owner”
Each year I sell about 100 vintage postcards on that well known internet auction site and I post them back to (who I think are) their rightful owners.  That is, people today living in the same streets, towns and localities as the address on the postcard they’ve just purchased from me.  Recently, I got a real thrill of excitement when I wrote on a modern-day envelope the exact same address as the address on a 110 year old postcard, and then posted the envelope with its precious contents back to its original house.  It really is well worth while keeping an eye out on the internet – you never know, one day your own house or photographs of your ancestors might turn up on an auction!
I have a very large postcard collection but my all-time favourite postcard is the card below.  It was purchased on the internet by the husband of my 2nd cousin – the great-granddaughter of the addressee on the postcard, Mrs Kemp.  He sent it to me, the great-niece of the sender, my great-auntie Elsie.  The “G is pulling a tooth out” on the message was my 7 year old granddad – a man I never knew as he died when I was two years old. It is incredible to think that 100 years after it was first posted, the descendent of the original addressee returned it to the descendent of the original sender.  But not only has it had family value to me, but also local history because I have lived in Great Dunmow for the last 11 years –the home town of my ancestors.
Elsie Parnall Cole’s postcard to her auntie, Alice Kemp (nee Parnall).  Where had it been between the years of 1907 when it was first sent, and the early 2000s when it turned up on the internet?
Where to buy these beautiful postcards
Hopefully I’ve now convinced you through my own research how much value vintage postcards can add to your family or local history research.  But, were do you buy them?  Well, of course there is that well known internet auction site.  Vintage postcards on the site is one of the most popular (modern-times) way of buying.  But, if you are looking for high quality excellent social history, then very often postcards on the site go for silly money – especially if there’s at least two of you bidding for a rare postcard.  For my book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time, I must have averaged at least £30 per postcard bought on eBay.  One postcard in my book was being sold on eBay for £75 but I picked up my copy from a local postcard fair for £5 (not telling you which one!).  Another Bishop’s Stortford postcard was being sold for £99 but I bought mine at another fair for £40.  Prices vary greatly, with the better real photographic postcards exchanging hands for up to (and sometimes beyond) £100 per postcard on eBay.
The other way of buying is the traditional postcard fair.  Fairs are held in sports halls, leisure centres and schools all across the world, with anything from 5 to 100 dealers all selling postcards.  I attended my first ever postcard fair in 1980 when I was 16 years old (in those days, good quality social history postcards were exchanging hands for £5 – a king’s ransom in those days – I so wish I’d had the money to buy them back then!).  
In Britain, the best place to see where local postcard fairs are being held is on this website ( When I go to a postcard fair, I tend to take cash (dealers will often reduce their prices for high priced cards paid in cash), and I always always always stop buying when I run out cash.  My advice is to not take a cheque book!  Once my money has gone, then that is it – time to go home!  If I didn’t have that limitation, then I really would spend far too much money…
In my 40 years of collecting postcards, I have collected a wide and diverse range of postcards – from social history postcards to postcards by well-known Art Nouveau artists.  The joy of collecting postcards is that your tastes and range of interests can change with time.  If you are a postcard collector, what is your specialist topic?
Kate Cole’s blog tour
You can catch Kate on the following dates and blogs discussing "all things history", along with explaining about her recent book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time, on the following dates and sites
§  Saturday 18 October - Worldwide Genealogy BlogThe process of writing a local history book.
§  Sunday 19 October - Essex Voices PastQ&A session with Amberley Publishing on "how to get a publisher interested in your history book".
§  Monday 20 October - Ross Mountney's NotebookHome education and teaching history to children.
§  Tuesday 21 October - Family History Across The SeaCorrelation between local and family history.
§  Wednesday 22 October - Anglers RestUsing vintage postcards to add to family and local history research.
§  Thursday 23 October - Bishop's Stortford Museum's BlogOral history and Bishop’s Stortford.
§  Friday 24 October - Essex Voices PastBishop's Stortford's postcards which got away.

About Kate Cole
Kate has a MSt in Local and Regional History (Cantab); a BA History (Open University) and an Advanced Diploma in Local History (Oxon) - all gained as a mature student. Having been a business technologist in the City of London for the last 30 years, she is currently taking time away from her City career to write. Her first history book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time, was published by Amberley Publishing in September 2014. She has been commissioned to write a further three history books for them:-
§  Sudbury, Lavenham and Long Melford Through Time (due to be published summer 2015);
§  Saffron Walden Through Time (due to be published summer 2015); and
§  Postcards from the Front: Britain 1914-1919 (due to be published summer 2016).

She lives in Essex, England, and regularly write about the local history of Essex and East Anglia on her blog, Essex Voices Past

Please do click on the image below to buy her book.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Book of Me, Written by You, Prompt 60

Today is week 60 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30 am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE.

This week's prompt is - Family Traits

Do you exhibit any family traits?
Do you even recognise them or simply accept them as face value?
Do traits exist or are they simply a coincidence?

    Sunday, 12 October 2014

    FGS - Connect. Explore. Refresh - Prompt One (Part Two)

    The first prompt
    "Tell us and your readers/followers what you think of when you here Connect. Explore. Refresh in relation to a genealogy conference"
    Earlier we explored Connect. Now we are going to look at Explore.

    The internet has opened up the genealogical research arena far more than anyone probably thought possible. Pretty much every institution has some kind of web presence. Be that the largest libraries in the land - The British Library, the Library of Congress or the obscure and fascinating. Each one of those brings to the on-line world the ability for others to increase their knowledge, Explore the bowels of their facilities and tap into the depth of material, both on and off line.

    It doesn't just stop there, Individuals can and do set up website, blogs and share historical and genealogical data. The internet enables that exploration from the confines of our studies, offices, sofa's and alike. We can explore the website of archives in a controlled manner, knowing what we seek and where we can access the material from. We can also have not the vaguest clue of where or what we require, but can explore using a search of a single name, place or keyword.

    We get to encounter material known to us, to encounter new material, to explore new and different archives, connect with new friends and family who we stumble across whilst exploring. If we are very lucky we are the ones that are found whilst others are exploring.

    We should be brave, uninhibited and open to search suggestions as we explore the virtual halls of libraries, archives and museums. Serendipity will probably make an appearance too, and as many of us know that whilst searching for something, we sometimes locate other material relevant to our ancestry.

    The internet allows us to be a virtual explorer, a Dr Livingstone if you will, exploring the vast amounts of data that is there if only we can see it. We can search from the comfort of our homes, schools, libraries and perhaps workplaces! The costs and dangers of physical exploration removed, but the wealth of discovery from our explorations is and can be priceless.

    What a wonderful way to Explore. Stay tuned for the posts looking at Refresh and a bonus post. Twitter #FGS2015

    Saturday, 11 October 2014

    Book of Me, Written by You, Prompt 59

    Today is week 59 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30 am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

    If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE.

    This week's prompt is - Task Reflections
    • Write a list of each task you undertake for any given day. 
      • Include the fine details of the tasks
        • taking milk out of the fridge to add to a drink - what was the milk in? a jug, quart container?
    • Compare those tasks to an ancestor - someone born in the late 19th Century or early 20th Century and preferably someone that you knew or remember. 
    • Record and discuss the differences
    • What of those discoveries has impacted on you?

    Friday, 10 October 2014

    FGS - Connect. Explore. Refresh - Prompt One (Part One)

    The first prompt
    "Tell us and your readers/followers what you think of when you hear Connect. Explore. Refresh in relation to a genealogy conference."
    There has never been a better time to Connect with others, Explore genealogical material, both on and off line and Refresh our thoughts on our research, our families and the historical context in which they lived.

    Lets delve a little deeper. For those who have started their genealogical research in the last fifteen years will barely remember a time when the internet was in not existence in its current form.

    The internet has revolutionised they way we live, shop, research and interact with other people, strangers and family alike. Who would have thought that following a group of potential strangers would be considered okay before the concept and delivery of Twitter?

    The internet has enabled us as researchers, both those new to the passion and those who have researched for a long time to access material within a few clicks of a button. The reality is the super highway has bought research material to us, rather that us going to them. Of course not all material is on-line, and you still can not beat touching a document that has the penmanship of an ancestor. To touch very gently the pages of a document that they touched. That feeling is so magical and yet hard to achieve if you live many thousands of miles away.

    The internet has enabled us to Connect with others in a variety of way. The archive institutions who have placed their catalogues on line for all to benefit from. The mailing lists frequented by researchers, those who choose to share their family tree on line be that by a facility offered by Ancestry or FindMyPast or alike, or whether sharing by writing a website or blog. Those that frequent aspects of Social Media like Face Book, those of us that can see a website for a genealogical Society on-line and decide there and then to join and take advantage of what it means to be a member of something. Those researchers who attend on-line meetings using Google Hangouts, Google communities and webinars. Those researchers who use on-line methods to collaborate and work together on a genealogical task.

    The internet has enabled us to make new friends, find lost family members and connect with friends, family and strangers in a reasonably safe and controlled way.

    It has enabled us to be part of something in the present, whilst seeking the past in order to preserve for the future.

    What a wonderful way to Connect. Stay tuned for the posts looking at Explore and Refresh and a bonus post. Twitter #FGS2015

    FGS - Connect. Explore. Refresh

    I heard earlier this week that I had been added to the list of genealogy bloggers as an Ambassador for the FGS Conference 2015

    There is a full list of FGS conference Ambassadors HERE.

    Over the coming weeks and months there will be periodic posts about the conference based upon my responses to a series of prompts.

    It is a fine way to get the excitement building in advance of attending a large genealogical conference, so stay tuned!

    Thursday, 9 October 2014

    Book of Me, Prompt 49 - What do I sound like?

    The Book of Me prompt 49 can be found here and asked the question what do I sound like?

    Actually I hate listening back to myself in recordings or video's. Over the years I have been recorded many times, whilst giving professional presentations, holiday video's, Google hangouts and even on a television program.

    Of course, we very easily leave messages on voice mail services and answer phones - I hate doing that too!

    This morning I was reading back through some of the recent posts from participants on the Book of Me Face Book Group and was suitably inspired (and not for the first time) by +Kristin Cleage.

    Kristin who blogs at Finding Eliza shared a recording of her being interviewed by her sister. It was a great recording and I enjoyed listening to it and was as I said, inspired to share my response to the prompt.

    In this recording I share that I have several recordings taken from voice mails left by my late Mum. In the early days after Mum passed away I took to playing these and whilst the professional in me thinks it is a little unhealthy, it has passed and I spent hours recovering those messages. I downloaded the messages as MP3 and now they reside in both OneNote and Evernote, both of which I have talked about on this blog previously.

    In complete contrast I have a video of my Grandmother that my husband and I did, the last Christmas before she passed away (Dec 1994). It is a lengthy video and my Grandmother was completely unaware that it was being recorded. Twenty years on and I still can not watch the video and my husband's next technical task is to archive that as a DVD and as a YouTube video that will be private.

    Do you have any recordings from your family?

    Saturday, 4 October 2014

    Book of Me, Written by You, Prompt 58

    Today is week 58 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30 am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

    If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE.

    This week's prompt is - What do you See?

    Public Use Allowed

    • Having seen the image what is the thing you thought? Write that down.
    • Does what you have written have any resemblance to how you view life?
      • Half full or half empty
    • Describe how you feel after you have reflected. Does that differ from your immediate thoughts?

    Thursday, 2 October 2014

    Happy Birthday Granny - Annie Prudence Butcher (1879 - 1972)

    Today would have been my Great Grandmother's, Annie Prudence Butcher (nee Harris) 116th birthday. I knew her as Granny, and later as I began my research I affectionately called her APH. My cousins knew her as Big Gran, because their Grandma looked after APH in her elderly years and I guess to a child having two Grandma's in the same house was confusing!

    This picture is taken from the Christmas card Granny sent to family and friends in 1955. I have inherited the one she sent to my Grandfather, Grandmother and Mum.

    The first official document I saw when I began researching my family history in earnest was the 1881 Census, which in 1988 was the last official Census available to those of us in the United Kingdom.
    Image courtesy of Ancestry - RG11/780/6 Puttenham Surrey
    Crown Copyright
    The Census shows, Annie aged one year old.  I recall the moment I spotted that entry line as I muttered the words wow! complete with that tingly feeling of excitement.

    That very same Great Grandmother who cuddled up to me as an elderly lady. Smelling of talcum powder and lavender. Who had the firmest, yet gentlest cuddle of all. She would wrap me in her arms and tickle me and I would wriggle with excitement. I can almost feel that cuddle as I write this and all of a sudden I miss this elderly lady, who loved her family passionately and yet despite her frailness, always gave me one of those lovely safe and reassuring cuddles.

    Here is a picture of how I remember her, surrounded by flowers and the love of her family.
    Annie Prudence Butcher nee Harris
    1879 - 1972
    Happy Birthday Granny!

    Wednesday, 1 October 2014

    Tax Disc - The End of an Era

    Image courtesy of The Independent
    Today marks the end of an era for those of us in the UK.

    Back in 1921 motorists in the UK were required to pay a fee, known as Road Tax to the Government in order to drive their car on the road.

    Each year, those brown envelops would arrive in the post and would be followed at some point by the end of the month with a trip to the post office.

    There we would hand over the insurance certificate, the MOT (Ministry of Transport) certificate, which confirms that the car was safe on the road and the road tax request document. In exchange for cash or a card payment, motorists would receive a disc such as pictured here. 

    The disc would need to be displayed in the car, otherwise there was a hefty fine of £1,000 for failing to do so. In recent years the trip to the post office was removed as the enabling of the Ministry of Transport to accept card payments and track electronically that you were insured and the owner of a valid MOT. A few days later a paper disc would arrive in the post. It's arrival would mean spending a few moments carefully removing the disc from the paper using the perforation. For those of us that are somewhat clumsy that proved quite a challenge!

    From today, it will no longer be required to display a tax disc. You still have to respond to the brown envelop containing the reminder and pay the fee, but you will no longer receive the disc in the post. Therefore this marks the end of an era.

    Will we, I wonder see an increase in the hobby of Velologists, or tax disc collectors?

    Saturday, 27 September 2014

    Book of Me, Written by You, Prompt 57

    Today is week 57 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30 am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

    If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE.

    This week's prompt is - Life Chapters

    • Is your life divided into chapters?
    • How has that happened? Has it naturally evolved?
    • Can you easily reflect where one chapter ends and another begins?
      • Are there any surprises?
    • Are those Chapters determined by people and / or places / or significant events?

    Sunday, 21 September 2014

    Book of Me, Written by You, Prompt 56

    Today is week 56 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30 am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

    If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE.

    This week's prompt is - Clubs and Societies

    • Do you belong to any?
    • Do you have to belong to any?
    • Are there any you belonged to and now don't?
    • What made you join them (and perhaps leave)?
    • What were they about?
    • Do you have membership details of organisations that family members belonged to?
    • What does it mean to belong to group / society / organisation?

    Friday, 19 September 2014

    Scotland's Future - The People have Spoken

    Scotland's Future: Your Guide to an…Yesterday was an important day in the history of Scotland, and the rest of the United Kingdom.

    After a campaign of around two years, the people of Scotland took to the polling booths to vote on whether Scotland should leave the United Kingdom or not. Scots living outside of Scotland were not able to vote and non Scots living in Scotland were.

    The world I am sure watched. We had various Politicians and former Politicians speaking out - Prime Minister Abbot from Australia, and Former US President Bill Clinton all said what they thought, they of course didn't get a vote.

    That task was left to the people of Scotland, including Mrs G senior.

    The picture I have shown here is the policy booklet. It is a very hefty book, one now sits on my bookshelf as I used it for some writing fairly recently. The entire e-book can be downloaded from HERE. There is also a Referendum site HERE.

    A few weeks ago, Mrs G senior mentioned that she was fed up with the Scotland debate, and even muttered that she might not vote. I was horrified and asked if she really knew what the vote was all about. There was a pause and a degree of hesitation. After a few moments she spoke and made the comment that whilst she was English, she has lived more than half her life in Scotland and did actually feel Scottish therefore  she really should vote shouldn't she?

    I encouraged her to vote, to exercise the right that many of her ancestors didn't get to do. Voting is something that is democratic process and makes us as women equal amongst men. In some cultures and Countries there is no democracy. I don't know if she voted or not, but the people of Scotland have spoken, in fact I read via Sky News online 
    "A turnout of 86% is one of the highest in the democratic world for any election or any referendum in history - this has been a triumph for the democratic process and for participation in politics."
    The polling booths were open until 10pm last night and the vote counting and checking would have gone on well into the night. I awoke this morning and read the outcome of the vote and as I type this the final figures are not in, but the majority have spoken and made the decision to remain part of the United Kingdom.

    What this means for Alex Salmond the Scottish MP who lead the debate I don't know. There are promises of more autonomy from London. Decisions about Scotland being made in Scotland, by Scottish ministers. The "Say No" campaign had the slogan, "better together" and depending which side of the debate you were on will depend whether you agree on the sentiment of slogan.

    From a historical and logistical purpose just what would have happened had the vote been yes?

    Tuesday, 16 September 2014

    The In-Depth Genealogist - Digital Magazine - Issue 20 - OUT NOW!

    The next issue of the digital magazine is available NOW!

    You can read my Introduction post HERE and you can follow the column by visiting The In-Depth Genealogist website and subscribing via email or via twitter and Facebook.

    You can read this month's edition of Across the Pond HERE

    Happy reading & researching!

    Saturday, 13 September 2014

    Book of Me, Written by You, Prompt 55

    Today is week 55 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30 am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

    If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE.

    This week's prompt is - Movies

    • What is your feel good movie?
    • Can you remember the first time you went to the cinema?
      • What did you see?
      • Can you remember the price?
      • Who did you go with?
      • Recall those magical movie moments?
    • What is your favourite movie or favourite genre?

      Thursday, 11 September 2014

      11th September 2001

      Image from
      In the middle of August 2001 I was contacted by the friend of a friend. The email started
      "Hello, You don't know me, but I was passed your email address and details from a friend, who is in turn friends with a friend of yours. Anyway, I was hoping that you would be able to undertake some genealogical research for me......"
      Over the coming weeks, we exchanged several emails, sharing snippets of our lives that were separated by the Atlantic. I delved into the genealogical research they required, shared my thoughts and wrote an email on 8th September 2001 which said that you need to follow the evidence. I suggested a plan and said I was heading to the National Archives in Kew the following week and to let me know as soon as possible if they wanted me to follow the evidence for them.

      On the day of the 11th September 2001 I got myself ready to work. I had to undertake a visit to a branch that was due to have an inspection from the local division of the Department of Health. Nothing dreadful, a routine visit and where there was no usual pharmacist on duty through a vacancy or holiday it was usual for area staff to attend. 

      The branch in question was located in a medical consortium, which is quite unusual in England, but they do exist. Effectively a group of medical practices, buy land or the building and share general facilities. The waiting room for use of all patients of the several medical practices. In the waiting room was a television for the comfort of patients and this was usually tuned to a news channel or something that was likely not to be controversial. 

      I was just about to leave, the official business concluded. We heard a series of gasps from the waiting room and turned to see what the problem was. We of course was greeted with the news of the dreadful events of 11th September 2001. 

      Everyone stopped what they were doing. It was absolutely silent as the news unfolded. We stood there in absolute horror, and disbelief. I ensured the staff were okay and after about forty minutes left and made my way home, listening to the radio in the car and then to Sky News once I was home.

      I checked my email and there was nothing from my new friend in the US. I did the usual domestics, got dinner ready, sorted my work schedule for the for the next day and my period of annual leave. I wrote a long email to my boss, who had been on leave, giving him an update. Where all our stores operationally stood, the ones that might have issues, the rescue plans that I had put into place as a precaution and many other snippets, that he just needed to be aware of, all the while listening  and watching the news.

      I never heard again from my new friend and about three weeks later I heard via the friend of a friend that my new email buddy had lost their life in the dreadful events of that day.

      Today is a sad day, not just for America but for the world. People from across the globe lost their lives or had their lives changed that day.  It is fair to say, that from that day the world changed, for everyone, forever.  Everyone will recall what they did on 11th Sept 2001, in the same way as what they were doing when they heard the news that Princess Diana had died, or JFK. 

      So today I will light a candle as I have done every year since those dreadful and tragic events.

      Wednesday, 10 September 2014

      One Note >>>Evernote

      Over the last year or so I have written about One-Note & Evernote several times.
      I have openly stated that I loved One-Note. Well the love affair is ending. It started several months ago, when an upgrade occurred. Suddenly it no longer looked or felt as comfortable as it once did. I persevered because it might all work out. I had that deep sense of dread at the pit of my tummy as I realised that I was fooling myself. It was time to move on. 

      Yesterday I had a serious computer issue and as a result I had to reinstall Office, which also meant my OneNote files. Having got myself all sorted out and organised I realised that OneNote looked different. Not all my notebooks show, and what does show is not in the right order.Even moving them into the correct order doesn't change the way it, or I feel.  All the material is there I think but for some reason it is different. 

      I am irritated beyond belief.

      Whereas, on the other hand Evernote was downloaded and as soon as I logged in, everything looked exactly as it had done. Really it's a no brainer isn't it?

      So I guess I need to tidy up Evernote and start going through OneNote and transferring the material across. I am sure there is a export and import method, but this technological driven genealogist likes to do something's the old fashion way!

      Saturday, 6 September 2014

      Book of Me, Written by You, Prompt 54

      Today is week 54 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30 am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

      If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE.

      This week's prompt is - School Trips
      • Did you go on any school trips?
      • Where did you go?
      • Memories and trinkets of those special days?

      Wednesday, 3 September 2014

      Shooting the Past...or is it more than that?

      Earlier today I was reading the Lost Cousins newsletter produced by Peter Calver. In that newsletter, Peter mentioned the film Shooting the Past.

      I can not tell you why I was inspired to seek the film out immediately. I usually add things like the names of films and books to a never ending list of such material, which the realist in me knows I will never get to see or read them all; not even if I live several life times. Maybe it was Peter's sentence that it inspired him to research his own family, I don't know, but this evening I had a date with several cups of tea and my laptop as I watched the film on YouTube.

      You can read a synopsis of the film HERE. I rarely sit so attentively. I usually have to reach for a notebook to record snippets that wizz through my mind, but this evening I sat and watched this film. I can see what it was that probably made Peter start researching his ancestry. With me it was probably the early recollections of the 1977 series Roots, but this program is a close second. So much so that I nipped onto Amazon and ordered the DVD. I had to!

      Go on, click the links below to see the various episodes of the film, but before you do, what was it that inspired you to research your family history?

      Episode One
      Episode Two
      Episode Three

      Or, has watching the three episodes above inspired you to start?

      Apparently I am a potential Rock Star!

      Image courtesy of
      My genealogical buddy friend from Down Under, +Pauleen Cass has nominated me for this.

      You can read the blog post here by the co-coordinator of the event, John who blogs  over at Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections.

      I am probably the least rock star driven individual on the planet! I recognise that we each bring something to the genealogical / historical / blogging community. We each give our time and knowledge freely with the only payment being a comment, a tweet, a like or a shout out somewhere on social media. I learn't long ago that sometimes the biggest rewards and payments are not necessarily financial.

      Nominations are open until 6th September and the voting will commence after then. This is a harmless piece of genealogical fun, and therefore I will accept any votes in the spirit they are given, but  we are all rock stars in my opinion.

      Friday, 29 August 2014

      Book of Me, Written by You, Prompt 53

      Today is week 53 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30 am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

      If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE.

      This week's prompt is - Your Home Town

      We all have one, perhaps it is where we were born, perhaps it where we lived for that special time in our lives, or perhaps it is where we now live.

      Wherever it is, why not tell us about it.

      Explain where it is, don't forget we are across the world!
      What is it that makes your "place" special?
      Do you feel a nice comfy emotional connection?

      Wednesday, 27 August 2014

      Outlander - Books, Tartans, History and Scotland

      Several years ago I was introduced to the books set Scotland, called the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. The series has progressed and is now on book eight; and each of the books is a whopper! 

      The initial book in the series (Cross Stitch in the UK) is set just after the second world war.  The following is an excerpt from the author's website
      "In 1946, after WWII, a young Englishwoman named Claire Beauchamp Randall goes to the Scottish Highlands with her husband, Frank. She’s an ex-combat nurse, he’s been in the army as well, they’ve been separated for the last six years, and this is a second honeymoon; they’re getting re-acquainted with each other, thinking of starting a family. But one day Claire goes out walking by herself, and comes across a circle of standing stones—such circles are in fact common all over northern Britain. She walks through a cleft stone in the circle….and disappears.........."
      As I started to read this book I wondered if my Grandparents had experienced something similar. They married in November 1939 and in 1940 my Grandfather joined the army. He was discharged from service in 1946 and remained on the reserves list until 1954. My Mum was not born until 1947, so it is probably fair to say that by the time Mum was born, her parents had actually lived together for about a few years.  How had they adjusted to each other? That is as far as the similarities ended, as my Grandparents never went to Scotland, and as to disappearing in standing stones, I can hear the voice of my Grandmother now saying "what poppycock!"

      Now there is to be a television series which sadly, does not appear to be airing here in the UK soon, unless you know different! - If you do please leave a comment.

      Yesterday I was working on an article for The In-Depth Genealogists when I spotted that the tartan's used for the series had been registered with the Tartan Register in Scotland. You can see the five tartans associated with the series HERE and to see the article on Tartans you need to subscribe to The In-Depth Genealogy blog or check using this link

      Saturday, 23 August 2014

      My Lost Son - BBC Documentary (Lockerbie Pan Am 103)

      Lockerbie Air Disaster Memorial
      Taken April 2006  - Julie Goucher
      I recall back in December 1988 hearing the tragic news of the air disaster in Scotland; the bombing of Pan Am 103 heading to the United States. 

      It was therefore quite a coincidence that I should, a mere six years later go on to marry someone whose birthday fell the same date as that air disaster and that my husband should have grown up in a small hamlet just outside of Lockerbie, where part of the aircraft came down. 

      Over the years I have visited the memorial in the churchyard at Tundergarth and the main and tasteful memorial at Lockerbie Cemetery. I have stood and read all those names including those of the locals who were victims of the disaster; and that of the friend my husband lost on that sad and tragic day.

      I was therefore surprised when, whilst searching the various television channels for news rather that sport news this evening to catch the end of a program indirectly about the air disaster. I quickly added to the program to record, but had missed about half of it. I quickly turned to trusty YouTube to see if the program was there. It was and the program is available for all to see and I then spent the next thirty minutes watching it.

      As you will see, this is a story not just of the tragedy itself, but also of loss at a personal level, grief and the need to make that special journey even if the road of that journey is a tough one.

      For some reason, the program resonated with me. I fully understand the need for this tough and emotional journey and admire the courage and determination of the lady concerned.

      Below you will the photographs I have taken of the memorial stones.
      Introduction and the link to the various photographs - all taken April 2006.

      Friday, 22 August 2014

      Book of Me, Written by You, Prompt 52

      Today is week 52 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30 am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

      If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE.

      This week's prompt is - Inherited Items

      There is something very special about inheriting an item from a family member. It doesn't have to be the riches, in terms of monetary value, or in the finest condition. Sometimes, just knowing that an item has stood the test of time in whatever shape it is now, is enough.

      That link between the past, present and future as you in turn pass it along.

      This week share those thoughts, memories and pictures. Lets having a trip down memory lane as with the passing along of each item there is always memories attached.

      Saturday, 16 August 2014

      Book of Me, Written by You, Prompt 51

      Today is week 51 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30 am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

      If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE.

      This week's prompt is - Your First Home

      This can be either or a combination of any of the following
      • Your parent's home - the first home you can probably remember
      • A home away from home - perhaps collage
      • Your first big purchase
      • The first home with the love of your life and perhaps your descendants
      • Perhaps talk of the excitement, stress and emotional attachments to locations
      • Was your home in your family for lots of years, was it an old house or a new build?
      • Can you visualise the rooms, or have photos?

      Thursday, 14 August 2014

      Excel for Genealogists

      A little earlier this week +Cousin Russ asked a question in the Cousin Russ Community about research logs. I responded that I kept a log in a journal and now keep in as a spreadsheet and store it in Google Drive. (I use Excel, but if you store as a Google Sheet it uses less space in your Google Drive!)

      Having made my comment, I was then asked to spend a little time with +DearMYRTLE in a hangout on Tuesday afternoon.

      Here is the hangout

      At the end of the discussion there is the link to my website where you can download a copy of the spreadsheets.

      I should point out that whilst I have allowed editing facility and downloading please respect my copyright. You are welcome to share, forward and develop but please leave my name as the source and creator.

      Tuesday, 12 August 2014

      Alex Haley – Genealogy Hero or Heel?

      image courtesy of
      Yesterday, Thomas who writes Geneabloggers wrote a post with the title Genealogy Hero or Heel? in recognition that the author of Roots would have celebrated a birthday, had they been alive.

      In 1977 I watched with my family the serialisation of Roots based upon the life of Alex Haley's ancestors. I recall, even my Grandmother who very much had the opinion that history was simply life yesterday, was enthralled with the programme. I can recall being allowed to stay up and watch the program. For some strange reason I recall it being on the TV at 8pm (probably BBC) on a Thursday. Why I recall that I have no idea, but I do, whether that is accurate or not, is another matter.

      Of course, since then there have been various statements that the story was not true, that it was plagiarised. There was a court case and a financial settlement made.

      Regardless of that, Roots was inspirational to lots of people, whether you were black or white. It was the story of a family, which is something that everyone can relate to. More importantly, it dealt with the issues of slavery. That subject that is emotive to many people on different levels. It gave people hope, that even if you you descended through slavery you could, if you wanted to or tried to trace your Roots.

      So, Hero or Heel? I think perhaps a little of both.

      Heel because you never, ever take someone work as your own. If you do, your secrets will surely out!

      Hero, because from that book it gave an opportunity for some people, who had dreamt of their ancestry to be reassured sufficiently that perhaps, just perhaps, they could research their past.

      ......and perhaps that was the point.

      Other sites of interest

      Saturday, 9 August 2014

      Book of Me, Written by You, Prompt 50

      Today is week 50 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30 am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

      If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE.

      This week's prompt is - Godparents

      • Did / Do your Godparents feature a great deal in your life
      • Do you know your Godparents?
      • How do they link in to your family?
      • Other stories or influences from your Godparents
      • Are you Godparents to anyone?


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