Saturday, 26 January 2013

Go to WDYTYALive in London...

Last year, I dragged my husband along with me to Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE at the Olympia in London and it was well worth it...

It is to be held on the last weekend of February again this year, the 22nd to 24th February 2013, at the same venue, the Olympia exhibition centre in London.

We live in Bradford, West Yorkshire so it was quite an expense for us to go down to London just for the exhibition so we made a weekend of it. We booked ourselves onto an early Saturday morning train to London. Once in London we visited Madame Tussards where we met Boris Johnson and told him that we loved the Oyster card.

Boris Johnson and Luke, my husband

On the Saturday evening we enjoyed a very lovely  Italian at Covent Garden, where we dined outside (yes, in February!) whilst watching the beautiful, acrobatic street entertainers.

We had pre-booked a little travel lodge very near the Olympia for the Saturday night, which was basic but all we needed for a night's kip to prepare us for the next day.

SUNDAY was the day that we descended on the exhibition and it was much better than expected. Even my husband who is not a family historian enjoyed it.

This is what we did during our visit last year:
  • Visited a seminar on how to write my family history by pre-booking a place on the Writing Your Family History workshop. This gave me ideas about starting this blog and tips for writing up my research, the fruit of which is this blog and especially...The Davidson Story. There are lots of other workshops to book yourself onto, to aid you pick up tips for your research.
  • Bought a huge A1 family tree, which I could fill all my ancestors details onto, perfect for taking with me when I visit family members, as they can see who I'm talking about.
    A family photo they scanned for me at
    WDYTYA Live last year
  • Visited all the stands and talked to people from the companies, charities and organisations, finding out what they do, how they can help me and offer me support in furthering my own research.
  • Got a discount on my subscription renewal with but the other big subscription sites were also offering discounts to their subscriptions.
  • Booked a session with "Ask the Experts" to ask the experts about a brick wall or two I was facing in my research, they gave some expert advise and more tips for helping me push further back in my family history.
  • Picked up lots of freebies and had access to buy discounted magazine subscriptions, books, CDs, family history resources etc.
  • Had my old photos viewed to help establish when or where the photos were taken and even who the people in the photos may have been.
  • Learnt a bit more about the Local Family History Societies and how to become a member.
  • Visited the military experts who helped me establish a bit more information about my own grandfather's World War Two adventures and what medals he had received.
  • Had some of my old documents and photos digitally scanned with hi-tech equipment to a high quality digital image by the professionals and put onto memory sticks so that I could upload them to my family tree and computer at home.
  • Picked up loads of ideas and tips on where to take my research.

The things we did not have time to do:
  • Take a heirloom to show the Heirloom Detective, Eric Knowles from the Antiques Roadshow.
  • Visit the Celebrity Theatre to meet some of the Celebrities who appeared in the latest series of Who Do You Think You Are? TV programmes.
  • Visit more than one workshop.
  • Meet and share with other family historians.
  • Eat!
  • And probably much more....

You can book tickets on Who Do You Think You Are? Live.

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Join your local library....

This week, whilst reading the November 2012 Who Do You Think You Are magazine a letter caught my eye, it was entitled "Try free digital newspaper at your library".

The word "FREE" always grasps my attention when it comes to family history research, as I could spend so much money on my research if I wanted to, by subscribing to websites (such as AncestryFindMyPastThe GenealogistThe British Newspaper Archives and others), buying CDs of parish record transcriptions, ordering birth, death and marriage certificates, buying subscriptions to magazines and visiting places especially visiting London and The National Archives at Kew.

Reading the letter further, the writer explains that all local libraries offer access to the Times Digital Archive and The British Newspaper Archives on their computers, but now with some authorities you can access these websites "FREE" from the comfort of your own home. Looking into this further I discovered that a lot of local libraries offer "FREE" access to the big subscription as well but whether you can get free access on your home computer, I do not know.

East Bowling Library
(Image link:, Author: Betty Longbottom,
12 Dec 2007, accessed 15 Feb 2014
I have just ordered my library card on the library's website this week, so when I hear back from them I can go and collect it. Once I have the card I will be investigating what "FREE" services are available to me by being a member of my local library, whether that be from home or from the library's own computers.

I have been blissfully unaware that I could have done research without having to pay the expensive subscription fees. When I was a poor student I was prevented from doing much research as I could not afford the subscriptions to these sites. The down side to free access is that it might not always be available when and where you want, if you have to go to the library to use their computers every time you want to research it is not always convenient, especially when I work full-time. I also would not get the opportunity of researching from the comfort of my own living room, with my relaxing music on in the background with a nice cuppa tea!!!!

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Saturday, 12 January 2013


Yes, I finally took the plunge after more than ten years of researching and did it?

What have I done, you may ask....?

I have signed up to the FreeReg website to become one of their many transcribers*. I will be soon able to give something back to the world of researchers, as up to now I have solely taken information off these free websites.

The FreeReg website has been a vital tool for me in researching my family tree back beyond 1837**. It offers FREE access to parish records which have been transcribed by their team of volunteer transcribers. The only problem with the website is there are missing parish records which still need transcribing, so this is one of the reasons I have decided to become a transcriber, to help fill some of these gaps.

A baptism record from the Woolwich Parish records - the sort I will soon be transcribing

Recently, I have been researching my ancestors from Hull, East Yorkshire and have found it frustrating going back further than 1837** due to the lack of transcribed parish records for Hull on FamilySearch.

There are other websites available to search parish records online too, many of the big subscription websites such as AncestryFindMyPast and TheGenealogist to name a few and another big free website is the Church of the Latter Day Saints family history website FamilySearch. The subscription websites often offer a high quality digital image of the transcribed page as well, where as the free ones often don't BUT a huge number of parishes are still unavailable to search. FamilySearch is useful due to its range of records on offer but it often lacks all the transcribed details such as the father's occupation, any extra notes etc which can be vital when faced with two or more people with the same name, baptised in a similar period of time and in a similar geographical area. 

I am looking forward to starting the transcribing, although I have to go through a period of training first. They need to make sure I have the required skills to do the job properly and in detail. I will also have to learn to read old fashioned handwriting. I have already received my four test pages, which I will hopefully get around to transcribing soon!!

Once I have passed the training period I will be able to choose a parish of my choice to start transcribing. The parish I choose must be un-transcribed, the records need to be available to me and it must be within my chosen county. I will choose a county and parish of my choice related to my own family history research which means I will be able to transcribe alongside researching my own family roots!!!

*A transcriber is someone who types up (transcribes) what is written in old documents into a format upload-able for search engines so that family historians like myself, can search for their ancestors parish burials, baptisms and marriages by just typing in a name, date of birth and other vital information.

**1837 is a vital date for family historians, as this was when it became compulsory to register births, deaths and marriages with the General Registry Offices around the country. Before this parish records are the major resource for delving back to discover more about our ancestors lives.

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Go to visit the places where your ancestors came from...

A new Year's resolution is to do a bit more actual blogging on this blog!

My aim is to do a blog post at least once every other week with tips on researching ones family watch this space!!!

Today my husband and I went for a day trip out to Newmillerdam and Sandal nr Wakefield in West Yorkshire. There were two reasons for our mini adventure:
  1. A nice day trip out as we had heard it was beautiful place
  2. It is where some of my ancestors came from

Our first stop was Newmillerdam - the villages name is from "the new mill of the dam".

Newmillerdam - The Dam

My great, great, great grandfather, Edward Sutcliffe is listed as born here on the censuses.

Not far from the dam is a street called Hill Top Road...

Hill Top Road

Looking up Hill Top Road

...which one must presume leads to an area known as Hill Top?! Well, wandering up this road we found a small community of old stone built cottages in amongst some very smart looking stone built modern houses.

The road sign at the entrance of this street said "Hill Top"...

Hill Top - is that an old chapel? this part of the original community of Hill Top? 

My great, great, great grandfather was listed as living in the village of Hill Top on the 1851 census, but no street name or house name or number are given.

Walking back down the hill along "Hill Road", these are the fronts of the cottages you saw the backs of on the previous photo "Looking up Hill Top Road", beautiful little quaint cottages...

Looking back down the Hill on a parallel road named "Hill Road"

...did my ancestor live in cottages like this? He worked as an agricultural labourer and later became a carter. Was this walk a daily jaunt of his?

Our next stop was Sandal Castle,  in the township of Sandal Magna only a few miles north-east of Newmillerdam. Sandal Castle has been there for centuries and has a rich history.

The ruins of Sandal Castle nr Wakefield

From the castle, there were 360 degree surrounding views, one being over the township of Sandal Magna and the Parish Church Tower which can be seen rising forth from the new red bricked housing. Newmillerdam is in the Parish of Sandal Magna and one of Edward Sutcliffe's children was buried in the grave yard here...

The Church Tower of Sandal Magna Church can be seen from the castle

...perhaps some of my ancestors were also baptised and married in the church as well?

View of Wakefield from the castle

It is great to get out and visit some of the places your ancestor came from, it fills your imagination with pictures and memories when thinking about where they lived, what they did, where they worked. It has a special meaning even today, knowing that you're walking down streets your ancestors probably walked down.

Copyright © 2013 Ruth Hogan