Where it all started

I don’t really remember what got me interested in looking at my family history. I used to talk to my mum and dad quite a lot about their childhood, memories and family. Although I always found it fascinating I can’t think there was a particular spark that lit the fire.

 I’ve just been to look at the early certificates I ordered and they date from 1996 – so I guess that was the time when I really started searching and spending money.

Of course this was well before the Internet became a vital source of information. My wife, Jayne, and I spent many hours in the local and family history section of the Central Library in Leeds. This section is down some long, dark and narrow passages – well away from “normal” library users.

All the birth, marriage and death registers were on magnetic tape. If you’ve been researching a while you know the sort of thing I mean. Reels of tape had to fed through the spools on the “reader” machines. I’ve lost count of how many times we put them in upside down or backwards way round.

In those days you had to book time on the viewing machines. The local and family history section was always busy and if you managed to get a couple of hours on a machine you were lucky.

The other main source of information is the International Genealogical Index (IGI). This is an index of genealogical information maintained by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You probably know them better as the Mormons.

Anyway the IGI contains birth, marriage and death records from several sources including church and parish records. Back in 1996 the IGI was only available on Microfiche at the library. These days it is readily available online at http://www.familysearch.org/eng/default.asp

Whenever we had time we would set off for the library with a packed lunch ready to spend time looking for that elusive record. Now I know you’re thinking it sounds a bit like train spotting but at least it was indoors.

Until you’ve experienced it then it’s hard to describe the excitement of finding the entry you’ve been looking for after trawling through reels and reels of tape because you didn’t have an accurate date.


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