Being Ambassadorial and Finding Lost Cousins

LondonBadges_640x640pxAmbassadorThis week came the news that I have been accepted as an Ambassador for the first London version of the genealogical extravaganza that is RootsTech. This major genealogy show has been a staple of the world’s genealogical calendar for nine years but in October, it will be coming to the UK for the first time. Now the US version of the show is over for 2019, details of what the UK event will offer are starting to be revealed. So far, some of the speakers have been announced and British family historians will recognise several people who have been prominent on the family history speaking circuit for many years. Early Bird pricing is on offer until 9 April, so don’t leave it too late to book. Shortly, I will be running a competition to win a three day pass, so keep an eye out on this blog and my Facebook and Twitter platforms for details.

Although I had recently managed to stop myself compulsively checking my Kindle sales figures for Barefoot on the Cobbles on a daily basis, I did notice a distinct spike in sales this week and I reached the dizzy height of #8 in the biographical fiction category. For an independently published first novel, which is not being given away or offered at a drastically reduced price, this is big – well I was excited anyway. The downside is that I have now returned to the hourly refreshing of my page to see what is happening to my sales figures. These new readers have found their way to Barefoot thanks to a review in the Lost Cousins newsletter, which is run by Peter Calver. Peter does not normally review historical fiction and indeed professes not to like it, so I am particularly grateful to him for bending his rules for me, on the grounds that the story emerged from genealogical research and is about real people. It is interesting that his review has had a particular impact on my sales in Australia. I am now hoping that one or two of these new readers will leave a review (please – I have been known to grovel). Sadly these sales do not deplete my large stash of paper copies, currently residing in my living room. Still, I am hoping that I may reduce the pile a little when I am signing copies in Barnstaple W H Smiths on Saturday.

Peter suggested that, in return for reviewing my book, I might upload my ancestors to his Lost Cousins database. As someone who tries to keep abreast of developments in the family history world, I was aware of Peter’s regular Lost Cousins newsletter but to be honest, I hadn’t considered adding my ancestors to his database. Like the newsletter, contributing to the database is free, although you make a small contribution if you wish to contact those whose ancestry you share (paid up members can however contact you, even if you don’t contribute). It works like this. You upload the details of your ancestors, as they appear in the 1881 census (or 1880 for those in the US). Then you can search for others who have listed the same people. You can also add details from the 1841 and 1911 censuses, although it is advised that you start with 1881. So far, I have only uploaded the details of my own direct ancestors, although there are options to add other individuals you might be interested in. If you do decide to upload, please use the link in this blog there is no prize for me if you do but your entry will be credited to my recommendation.

Regular readers of this blog will be aware of my distinct lack of cousins, so I was a little sceptical of finding matches but it has been an interesting exercise and already one match is showing. It only took me about half an hour to upload all my direct ancestors who appear in the 1881 census, although, to be fair, I had previously done all the searching and had copies of the census entries already. 1881 is too early for any of my grandparents but all eight great grandparents, fourteen of the sixteen great great grandparents and three 3x great grandparents were alive at the time. I know all the descendants of the great grandparents (all six of them!). I have a pretty complete picture of the descendants of the sixteen great great grandparents (my 3rd cousins), although I think a few of the Smiths may have slipped through. My knowledge of the descendants of my 3x great grandparents is less complete, so the three alive in 1881 may well bear fruit and this is where the match I have comes from. I plan to add my entries from the other censuses and also the details of my children’s ancestors.

With the rapidly increasing popularity of DNA testing, the need to trace our family history forwards, as well as backwards, has never been more important, yet so many of us do not focus on more recent research. Uploading to Lost Cousins may well help with this. I have just finished guiding the latest cohort of students through my online Tracing your Twentieth Century Ancestors and their Community course for Pharos Teaching and Tutoring. I am afraid you will have to wait until next year for this one to run again, although places are filling up fast for the Writing and Telling your Family Story course that starts in April. I am also speaking about Twentieth Century Research at Family Tree Live and bookings are now open for this event. Once booked, you can reserve places at the lectures of your choice. Also on the subject of Twentieth Century research, in case you missed the announcement, we now know that FindmyPast will be releasing the English and Welsh 1921 census in three years’ time. As someone who remembers waiting for the 1881 census to be released, I suddenly feel very old.

I am still adding to the write ups of my own ancestral research. I should stress that these are very much works in progress and summaries of research, not necessarily fascinating stories. This week I have uploaded the Woolgars of Sussex.

Thank you to those who have asked about our BeingEdward story. We have been busy with family visits and Martha will be blogging again shortly. This week’s campaign is to encourage the government to stop the inappropriate detention, segregation and seclusion of those with autism and learning difficulties in mental heath units, institutions that are patently not designed to meet their needs. For those who have the time to explore our BeingEdward world further, take a look at this webinar, which introduces you to PDA, which is Edward’s condition.


One comment on “Being Ambassadorial and Finding Lost Cousins

  1. Brenda Turner says:

    Janet, a chum near Banbury who I met while living near there for a year sent me a book, and as I read your post I realized the link between the two. The book is titled John Kalabergo of Banbury, by E.R. Lester (1975.) It details the murder of John, an Italian immgrant and watchmaker, by his nephew William on the hill outside of Williamscot, Oxfordshire in late 1851. The book includes a copy of the 1851 Directory of Banbury, and one can clearly see the names of the police officers, the clergy, and merchants, along with their addresses in the town. It was a rather chilling read, as I have driven that hill where John was murdered many times, and will no doubt be driving that hill again on my spring trip to the UK this year. I have walked those streets where the merchants of Banbury lived who were friends of John’s. Just something for you to consider if/when you write another book of fiction about people who actually lived. Cheers, Brenda

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