Pointless Research

Does all the research that we do have to have a specific point? Do we always have to be ‘on’ as researchers, beavering away at our own lines and families? Can we – should we – be allowed to undertake research that is just for fun?

Spoiler alert: Abso-effing-lutely we should. In the words of Blanche Devereaux: “It keeps you healthy, keeps you in shape. Keeps your buttocks firm.” Alright, so not exactly (after all, if genealogy did that, then Jazzercise would never have been invented…), but it allows us to firm up our researching muscles whilst providing our brains with some free-wheeling time to mull over strategies for solving other research blockers.

Case in point …


RootsTech 2023: Online

Following on from my previous post reporting on my personal highlights of being boots on the ground in Salt Lake City for RootsTech, here is a short taster of the classes that I’ve been able to catch up on using RootsTech On Demand …


RootsTech 2023: In Person

As I sit and write this, I am people-watching in the Salt Lake City airport, with three days of conference and 7 days of residency behind me (and a rerouted 14+ hour flight home ahead of me …). But apart from wishing I was on the plane to Honolulu at the next gate, I am also thinking about all the people I’ve met, all the things I’ve learned and all the experiences I’ve been exposed to. And, yes, all the food I’ve eaten …

So here it is: my review of RootsTech 2023 In Person!


52 Ancestors: Outcast

I had written half a blog for last week’s prompt (Social Media) but hadn’t got around to finishing it before this week’s prompt came around. Sorry about it. Now on to this week’s writing!

Outcasts. My immediate thought was to look at social outcasts: the undesirables. Hobos. Vagrants. Tramps. Vagabonds. The demonisation of the poor is nothing new, and something that is still prevalent in society today. In fact, in the UK, the first piece of legislation making it a crime to be unemployed (known as idleness) dates to 1349.  A vagrant was a person who could work but chose not to and, having no fixed abode or lawful occupation, begged. Vagrancy was punishable by being branded or whipped.

I’m pretty sure that if this was suggested today that a surprising (or not so surprising??) subset of the population wouldn’t have a problem with it.


52 Ancestors: Oops

This week’s prompt seemed a bit familiar, so I checked my Archive from 2020 and here is the first time I wrote on this theme. All of that still holds just as true today as it did back in 2020 – and no shade to Amy for recycling prompts!

I’d like to think that with experience comes wisdom and that I am less prone to research oopsies. Still, this past week I did order a birth certificate for a suspected illegitimate Holborow birth which I discovered 20 minutes after submitting the order had been double registered with the obvious birth father’s name as well. So I am definitely not saying I am infallible. (And, yes, it was incredibly irritating.)

But have there been any earth-shattering oopsies in my research, something that has meant unpicking an entire family line and/or hours of research? Or have I ever uncovered someone else’s oopsie?


RootsTech 2023: Free Pass Competition Winner

I am a day later than promised, but I have now selected a winner for my free pass to RootsTech this year (in what feels like mere days!).

And the winner is ……


52 Ancestors: Out of Place

I wasn’t sure that I had a family history story that met this week’s theme … until I started to review my Holborow ONS entries for the 1851 census and realised I’d missed an entire spelling variant in my search! And – as usual – the Holborows (or Holbrows in this instance) managed to come up trumps – and drive me right round the buggering twist!

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin …


52 Ancestors: I’d Like To Meet / Favourite Photo

I have decided to do 52 Ancestors again this year, after taking a break in 2022. I’m already a week behind hence why this post is a bit of a twofer.

In terms of “I’d Like To Meet”, assuming we mean a deceased family member and not – picking a name at random from the ether – Henry Cavill, then the answer is clear and blindingly obvious to anyone who I have ever bored to tears spoken with about my family history.


RootsTech 2023: Free Pass Giveaway!

Hello all, and welcome to 2023. I think I can still squeak by with a Happy New Year. I’m not big on Resolutions (as I’m sure I’ve explained before), but I aim to get back into a rhythm with blogging here.

Of course, this is helped by the fact that I will be traveling to Utah in February to attend RootsTech in person. Lots to blog about, I’m sure. And it can’t all be about drinking in new bars and throwing axes.

If you are planning to be there too then you may be interested to hear that you can enter my giveaway to get a FREE 3-day pass to the fun. (Axe-throwing not included.)


The Werewolf Prince

Ok, so I’ve missed Hallowe’en but I’m back with another tale of weirdness (check out the witches and vampires in my Spooky Stories archive) from the distant scratchy twigs of my family tree.

Werewolf. I’m sure you’re already imagining a great hairy, slathering beast, driven crazy by bloodlust as it rampages under a full moon until some brave hero pumps it full of silver … Or maybe you’re of the age where you picture an over-sized canid leaping about the forests of Washington State. Either way, you’re probably wondering what and why and how there are records of a werewolf in my family tree, right?