52 Ancestors: Beginnings

As Cole Porter once wrote, and Ella Fitzgerald fabulously sang, “Begin the Beguine” (and when I was a child, I actually thought the song was “Begin the begin”, which tells you something important about children, I’m sure).

I’m not entirely sure how to react to this week’s theme – the first one of 2021 which adds that extra pressure to make it an explosive start to the year. I’m sure I’ve talked somewhere before of my own beginnings in genealogy (wanting to know about my biological grandfathers on both sides – check and check – aged about 15) and how I started offline and then grew my own skills as more and more records became available online (and waiting for baited breath for the 1901 census to be released online on its own dedicated website and paying for credits to view search results. Ahhh, how far away 2002 seems to me now!

But beginnings within genealogy are perhaps harder to pinpoint, after all, everybody came from somewhere, there is always a preceding generation (one of the things that irks me about shows like WDYTYA? is this attitude of declaring this is where I get x from or this is where I come from and why I love bridges so much as one or two generations before, the family may have lived somewhere else entirely, a place that didn’t even have bridges (Jeremy Irons’ declaration of having an affinity for Ireland and therefore must be historically from Ireland comes to mind, especially watching his ego be somewhat pricked when he ended up walking down Croydon High Street – odious, bigoted man that he is*).

(*His views on the legalisation of gay marriage, abortion and women’s rights some years ago are available – even if he did ‘apologise’ for them earlier this year in the most non-apologetic, PR-scripted way I’ve read in some time. In my opinion. Personally. Your opinion may vary.)

But there are certain beginnings that we can watch out for. One could argue that every marriage is a new beginning in that it creates a new, specific family and family line. Or it could mark the beginning of a naming trend, such as the introduction of new names (both fore and middle) from the mother’s family.

Or it could be a new beginning following a migration, whether that’s within the same country or across the ocean, or following an event spinning our ancestors into new directions.

And of course our own beginnings as researchers or as bloggers. There is, in my opinion, much more help and assistance available for nascent researchers now than back when I began. Or perhaps its just that the help is more readily available, more immediate, than it used to be. Social media being a force for good for once. I think that a sense of community really helps as research can be a very isolated and isolating affair – getting to talk about your passion with like-minded people is always a positive. And we will be interested in your great-grand-aunt appearing on several Passenger Lists to Hong Kong that nobody ever mentioned to you before.

So, yes, let them all begin the beguine, and make them play ’til the stars that were there before remain above you.

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