One Place Studies OPS

What is a One Place Study (OPS)?

  • A OPS combines family and local history on a community, street, graveyard etc.
  • A OPS is about collecting diverse information and statistics about a place over time or at a specific time and drawing conclusions.

I like #OnePlaceStudies because it sets everyday life in the local and national context, and interprets local/national events and factors through the lives of real, ordinary people.

A OPS can be whatever you want it to be. Don’t be put off by thinking it has to be done a certain way as I was for a while

Here is the web page for OPS world wide but there are only 4 in Australia. Check out the studies in the navigation bar

Bittermuir / Pixabay

Have you done or are you planning to do a OPS? What place would you choose or have you chosen and why?

Here are some blogs about OPS mentioned in our chat tonight

Sue – Sorell municipality, Tasmania

Jennifer – Axedale, Victoria

Alex – Wing, Buckinghamshire, England


I have an interest in three OPSs although they tend to suffer from lack of time or competing demands. My first is focused on Broadford, Co Clare, Ireland and more broadly on East Clare emigrants to Australia

My second OPS is a study of the 62 emigrants from Dorfprozelten, Bavaria to Australia in the mid19thC. I learn more about their lives in Bavaria, emigration and life in Oz. I have good links with the local historian

My third OPS interest is in Murphy’s Creek, Qld which was key in the construction of the Ipswich-Toowoomba railway line but is now a sleepy satellite town below the range. I have done lots of research but yet to set up a blog

I have two OPS on the go. One is Kaimkillenbun on the Darling Downs and my study covers the late 1800’s-1930. This is where my g grandparents settled first when arriving from Northern Ireland. Other family were already there

My second OPS is of Seventeen Mile Rocks in Brisbane. I feel very connected because not only did my g grandparents farm there but I moved from Kenmore to Jindalee just nearby aged 14

I haven’t and probably won’t … I really like the idea but so many possible places in my Ancestry to choose from … wouldn’t be able to make up my mind what to pick

I started mine by using posts written by students when I taught history and Technology. The most recent posts relate to the suggested topics from One Place Studies

I started looking into people from the same Cornish town as my family, or Cornish families with the same occupation/living in same suburb, but uncovered uncomfortable stories through Trove about others. Made me question ethics of what I was doing.

I suppose the question is whether it’s about recent times and people. Ethical questions can be quite the #familyhistory and OPS challenge. Further back in time is less concerning.

And a great Scottish site which traces the residents who lived in the village of Cairndow at the head of Loch Fyne Scotland. On my to-do list is to send info to them. Sigh…so much to do! #OneplaceStudy

If I do another OPS,  it will be Polstead in Suffolk

I started a #OnePlaceStudy this year looking at a local ‘big house’ (now demolished). There was a family connection in that my g-grandfather worked there as a gardener, but it was also part of the local history of the area I grew up in:

of course ! It doesn’t have to be a town or a village does it? A house will do. Or a church. Or a street or cemetery -whatever takes your fancy and speaks to you.

Focusing on a big house has meant (a) it’s a manageable size for an OPS, and (b) I get to use a wide range of sources because I’m looking at the ‘high society’ above stairs plus all the staff, as individuals and within their roles.

I had contemplated doing a OPS for the village where my father was born

I am not doing a OPS as such but had started a blog on just one small place, Tarlee in SA but just posting Trove articles, weddings, burials there and sending the links to the nearby local historical society

Kind of working on this for Makaretu & Ashley Clinton, two areas in Central Hawkes Bay, NZ. Approximately half of both cemeteries contain ancestors (back to Great Great Grandparents arriving in 1873). Get info from my 82 year old dad & 72 year old mother.

I have been collaborating with an historical society doing a OPS. More heads make for better results

Sue, the time line is a great way to feature events at a place and linking to blog posts an added bonus. A time line is something I would add now I have seen your blog.

Limiting the time span makes a OPS more realistic Fran. Otherwise it could be more than a lifetime of work.

Daniel_Nebreda / Pixabay

In what ways might a OPS complement your family history research? ie context, FANS, others?

An OPS helps you understand and appreciate what your ancestors’ lives were like, what their “normal” was. It’s also a great way to see just how large their extended family was, and how interconnected with their neighbours they were.

Does anyone else feel they have no “right” to be researching a place where they don’t live or which is far away? It sometimes feels quite impertinent to me.

I think if done with ethics in mind, e.g. always questioning own assumptions, making active efforts to engage with local #archives, local societies/orgs and local culture, it’s a brilliant & respectful way of expanding our own worldview…

…and where possible, involving local researchers & residents from modern day to ensure the community can also interact with it – definitely a force for good & potentially forging national/int’l goodwill connections too

I live about a thousand miles from where I was born- and about four thousand from where my grandfather was! If I didn’t research far off places, I wouldn’t be able to do any of my #genealogy

I’m sorry. I just don’t understand this query. We’re all from somewhere. And isn’t it the point to learn things, not only of the person, but of their place and their time. I don’t do this just to collect names but to expand my knowledge of everything

If I was doing an OPS I would want it to be supportive of my #familyhistory research. To lead to a better understanding of my ancestor’s lives.

Context is important but you can research around your ancestors – people associated with them (FANS), environment etc. – without necessarily taking on a full scale OPS

Just getting a more rounded feeling for the area & the close-knit connections. Eg – 3 local ‘boys’ went to WWII, and being a very small rural area, most residents had photos of all 3, in a frame on their walls. (And now I have them on my wall)

An OPS will give you lots of interesting background tidbits to add colour if you are writing up your family history too

I think the OPS helps me describe how my ancestors lived. Eg, Haughley in the 1920s was known for its lack of sewerage & the vicar’s crusade to get it for the village. Got to put that in the book !

My OPS started out as FAN research when I was writing about my g-grandfather for a local history project. It was only later that I realised it was ripe for development into a project in its own right.

Because mine is more about a district in Tasmania, I try to involve the community through their Facebook page. Lots of comments are from community members who have read the post.

Using a Facebook page to share info, or make connections with current residents can be very helpful can’t it?

I find I get very little interaction on my OPS FB page but I’ll keep plugging away. This is despite having many followers to the page

Also get ideas from the local Sorell Historical Society Facebook page where I will often mention what I am about to write about and get information from the locals

Researching your #familyhistory gives you an in-depth knowledge of your family and their lives, and we usually look at their place and activities within their community. This can add to the depth of a #OnePlaceStudy.

A OPS could help to give a bigger picture of the life your ancestors lived in a place. Collating info on all people in a place could lead to finding unknown people who are connected to your family

In both #familyhistory and an OPS it will be a goal to research as widely as possible, looking at a diverse range of data and information. We would look at consolidated data for the place a well as individual experiences and their typicality.

An OPS can give you a better understanding of where your family fits within the context of the place. The #OnePlaceStudy and #familyhistory offer complementarity and benefits to both.

A OPS can help you understand your ancestors lives in context by understanding a community or street they lived at the time they lived there or in over time. getting to know their friends and neighbours can lead to clues to follow

What kind of information would you want to research for a OPS and what outcome would you want for a OPS?

I like to study the entire census records for places and make a list of who lived where and did what compared to the next census and so on.

You can find out a lot about a place through newspaper advertisements from the time ie who lived there, sale notices, occupations, what happened in a place

And when using Trove, remember to add tags and create a relevant list so others can find it as well. Your work isn’t lost then.

Newspapers advertising of when the water, sewer and transport came to an place tells a lot about the progress and improvements

I love walking around my OPS It gives me ideas for research every time I’m lucky that my place is quite close to where I live

Just to chip in here about sources. Many researchers forget town/borough records. Your OPS may not have these, however it might be within the ‘sphere of influence’ of a larger town. E.g. the borough records of King’s Lynn mentions other towns/villages in area.

They can be hard to track down at times. Internet Archive is a good source, but some are browse only at FamilySearch and FindMyPast etc.

Don’t forget historical maps on each state land registry website. You can see places in the past. Also historical imagery on Google Earth.

At the moment my OPS focuses on stories and documents rather that statistics. That could change with more time

I worried to start with that mine didn’t have lots of statistics. But I think getting the community involved with their stories and memories is just as good

Some people will want to be very statistical in their approach, others will be focused more on the people and their stories. “Horses for courses”.

I was pondering this question over dinner, & was thinking that soon I’ll be able to do the 1911 vs 1921 comparison for Haughley.

Land records will be more important for Irish research as you work out who lived in your OPS over time. as always, maps are critical.

Doing an Irish (or Northern Irish) OPS is a challenge, but once you know your way round the local resources there is a lot of information out there (and quite a bit of it is free!)

Get to know your place! Really study a map, the topography, the local walking routes, markets,geographic obstacles and adjacent townlands or parishes. Put your message out there, you’ll be surprised who might find your interest in the OPS.

speaking of #OnePlaceMaps check out this fabulous map done by a postman in Cardigan Wales in 1945 digitised here… by the National Library of Wales 🙂

I’ve been using censuses, maps, street directories and the usual BMD resources to construct the basic framework of the study, but it is newspapers that are largely filling in the details and giving it colour.

My goal is to bring back to life a place which disappeared 80 years ago. So I’m gathering little stories, which provide a snapshot view, alongside all the info I can find about the residents, to reconstruct what it looked like and what life was like there

I use the National Libraries ‘Papers Past’ a lot. Really helps to identify people from the area, what they were involved in, and their connection to the community. Especially enjoy seeing school results. Also use births, deaths, marriages a lot as well

Great tip! I forgot to add school admission registers, and anniversary celebration books, especially for schools that were opened for/by pioneers.

Both mine begin with pioneers Pauleen and land records, title deeds are wonderful. and maps!

The maps + land selections are what led me to discover the connection of neighbours at Murphys Creek as former neighbours of Dorfprozelten.

ALL the information (because I have difficulty restricting myself even though restriction by timeframe or topic is eminently sensible). Outcome: a comprehensive understanding of one or more aspects of life in that place that you can share with others.

A non-English speaking OPS will offer different challenges and may offer an opportunity or necessity for collaboration with a local historian. Where there is already a #localhistory expert we will like to collaborate without “treading on toes”

An Australia OPS will need to also source diverse records including electoral rolls, land selection, naturalisations, FANs etc etc. A pioneer place OPS will likely be quite different from an established UK village OPS.

I like to understand how a place was settled ( easier in Australia and NZ ) and who lived there overtime, what their occupations were and to get a feel for how a place changed over time.

The available records and sources will vary depending on where your OPS is situated. So in Ireland you will not (mostly) find census nominal data until 1901 but you can still look at statistical data for education, occupation, gender distribution etc.

For an OPS I’d look at maps, census, naturalisation, internal-external migration, occupation, parish chest and registers, cemeteries, newspapers, land records including land selection. All you would use for #familyhistory and more.

I’m thinking census records, parish records, maps, business directories, local histories, cemetery records, newspapers. This is a good place to start…

I use Trove a lot in my posts but also documents from Tasmanian archives as well as info from locals.

Pexels / Pixabay

A OPS can be an excellent family history resource. Suggest informative websites, books, blogs etc about OPS. Where can we find the One Place Studies done by others?

On twitter follow @OnePlaceStudies and use tag #OnePlaceStudy when sharing posts

Also if you share your OPS post on Wednesday use tag #oneplacewednesday It’s a thing.

The Society for One-Place Studies, of course, at @OnePlaceStudies and Lots of freely available material (incl YouTube videos), plus extra goodies behind the membership curtain, and truly awesome and enthusiastic members.

Here’s a good article on how to choose a place?… and here’s the Directory of OPS. And here’s a blog I found using the hashtag for OPS blogging prompts this month

How to books I have found useful for One Place Study include “Putting Your Ancestors in Their Place: A Guide to One Place Studies” Janet Few & “Ten Steps to a One Place Study” Janet Few

I saw this One Place Study data management and mapping software in the Expo Hall at Rootstech…

Great blogs with lots of things to look for in your OPS

Your first port of call should be the society for One Place Studies. This shows the registered OPSs around the world BUT there may be others eg the work done by Merron Riddiford on Victoria’s Western District.

CuriousFox is a gazetteer and message system that connects family historians & local historians. I’ve had great success with it for places in the UK & Ireland, as explained on

Great post by Sophie about looking at negative gaps in our research – could relate to both family and OPS

Readers: If you were to start a One Place Study, where would it be and why?

FANs in family history

Are you getting hot in your research and need a FAN?  This type of FAN wont get you any cooler, in fact you will find yourself working more on those BSO (Bright Shiny Objects)

malubeng / Pixabay

Tonight’s twitterchat is all about FANs –  friends, associates and neighbours

  1. Did your immigrant ancestor emigrate with cousins, friends, or neighbours? Did FANs already in Australia sponsor family members?
  2. Did your ancestors settle near FANs after immigration? Have you found widowed or single FANs living with ancestors, or vice versa?
  3. Have you made any research discoveries by using FANs either through DNA or otherwise? How do you use FANs or extended family to solve “brick walls”?
  4. Do you use social media to identify FANS of family members? What other records and sources have you found useful?

Great places to find FANs

Helen: Inquests, wills, probate records can uncover helpful FAN (friends, associates, neighbours) networks – and those networks can reveal much

Jane: There is quite a bit of information coming together at now … good place for sharing for everyone (and especially for those people who want an alternative to Fb)

Pauleen: I have found blogging to be a wonderful tool to discovering FANs as they respond to the stories I’ve written, sometimes many years later. I use FB groups for places, and also have a cousin/family group and one for Dorfprozelten emigrants’ families

Tara: Someone mentioned “Kerrytown” earlier. Was searching for something unrelated during lunch and found this section of a book on placenames of South Australia. Might be useful for others…

Tara: worth remembering that some Rootsireland county transcriptions will allow you to search a common surname with the name of witness/sponsor. Not Offaly though, which is a pain

Tara: One excellent source for those of you with Irish heritage is @IrelandXO – join the parish page, or county page if parish unknown and get help from locals. Also multiple FB pages

Sue: Need to make sure you use tags and categories in blog posts so more chance of FANs finding it , reading it, and getting in contact with you.

Pauleen: When people know your interests they will share information with you. An elderly man, now not well, has shared so much info and oral history he collected about Murphys Creek Qld

ANZ: Don’t forget to look in your own “archives”: photos, autograph books (more recent), address books (grandmother’s, mother’s, aunt’s, cousins’). How about membership badges from clubs, societies or church groups? School photos?

Pauleen: Establish your networks so people know your research interests eg I was given a house blessing picture for the original Kunkel house. My FANs always alert me when they see the Kunkel name. The current owner of the home shared a heritage survey

SOPS: Quite a few one-placers have found that Facebook pages or groups certainly work well for Places / #OnePlaceStudies. They are great for sharing and receiving information, photos etc of residents and their wider families, and of the Places themselves.

Fran: I regularly check Archway for hints and also the non newspaper section of @PapersPastNZ.

Tara: Found one by accidentally seeing a tweet last week. Grandson of a man whose ancestry I’m researching!

Jill: I have made many connections with FANs through having my family tree online on my own site, and in online trees at the Big 3 pay sites and @FamilySearch #ANZAncestryTime

ANZ: There are so many options for learning more about your ancestors’ FAN’s: oral history, immigration documents, newspaper stories, electoral rolls and PO directories, maps to see who their neighbours were, church witnesses.

Daniel_Nebreda / Pixabay

Karen: Mostly using Am extremely fortunate that several elderly relatives are still living and have shared memories. Other records that have been useful: NZ Archives, British Archives/newspapers, Trove.

Jennifer: I’ve used Census, Newspapers, local area history books, published family histories, blogs, shipping lists, inquests, Wills and personal letters

Pauleen: Missing persons advertisements in the newspapers (on Trove) can provide clues to family linkages and latest known location – It’s how I linked up Mary O’Brien Kunkel with her sister Bridget later Widdup and the ship

Jill: One of my best finds was an obit in the California Digital Newspaper Collection. Put a bunch of FANs in place in four countries.

Tara: Reminds me of one death record I came across during recent search. Bachelor, death reported by his “Step son” (1880s)

Tara: You have wedding gift lists for FAN, we in Ireland have funeral attendees 🙂

CB: Recently came across some really great ones for a client’s ancestor BUT they described some of his step-kids as actual children, which I didn’t know at the time, meant I had to do further ultimately pointless checking!

ANZ: Kind of nice they were recognised that way within the family but also annoying genealogically.

CB: It is. Good lesson not to blindly believe the report though. This man had been married 4 times so the possibility of unfound children was not, er, impossible.

Jill: Facebook stalking is a great tool for identifying FANs in later generations.

Tara: One thing I have noticed tracing FAN for weddings and christenings in Irish midlands is that they were often first cousins rather than siblings. Testing that hypothesis has often worked

Sue: When researching English, American or Canadian then go to census definitely. In Australia, Trove as well as online records from Tassie.

ANZ: Researching FANs and extended kin has clarified oral history hints by buying certificates. Witnesses to church events reveal long-term friendships and occupational or voyage links.

Jennifer: That’s so true. I found a grooms brother on the marriage certificate. Had thought he was still in Scotland until then

Jill: We also have fantastic funeral reports via @TroveAustralia especially for earlier years.

Tara: Yes, it was through one of those for a great grand uncle that I was able to reconstruct his life after emigration to Australia

Sue: In Tasmania, we are so lucky to have an archives that has digitized so much and put it online for free. Anyone needs help using the Tasmanian Names Index, feel free to contact me. I love using it.

ANZ: Tracking down in-laws and cold-calling can be scary but give you stories and photos that you don’t have. Similarly, school friends may be able to identify people in photos.

Sue: I found a few more relatives by checking wills and who they left heirlooms with, cousins, aunts, nieces et

Jill: FANs names on documents and in newspaper articles can help put our ancestors in a time and place.

Maggie: Following extended family through baptism records in Scotland (where they appeared as sponsors/godparents for each other’s children) and in Ireland helped me identify the townland in Mayo they all left from in the 1850s. All I had before was a county.

Jane: Can’t stay tonight for #ANZAncestryTime sorry … The #BeyondKinMethodology is one way to record people connected to one other and family but not biologically or legally kin e.g., enslaved people, indentured labourers, servants etc. ……

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Immigration and FANs

Dara: Speaking of FANs – Mary Power was my Dad’s Dad’s Godmother. Then, census revealed she was his Ma’s foster mother. Transpired later, her first husband was my mother’s GGG-granduncle & finally, it turned out, she was Dad’s Grandda’s Aunt. A one-lady FAN club.

Jennifer: My ancestor was murdered in Victoria by her husband when her baby was a few days old and unnamed. I eventually found a child of same age & no birth cert living with an aunt in nsw after researching every known relative. Time consuming research but worth it

Pauleen: I’ve found it useful to analyse the gifts listed in wedding notices to distinguish who is a relative or a FAN and where they live.

Fran: So there is one FAN thing I have done when I thought I had done none. Check out wedding parties and social events in @PapersPastNZ can be useful.

ANZ: Researching emigrants from the home place has given me context for my own families/immigrants, and revealed dodgy deals done by the local priest in Clare. The extent of migration from Broadford to Oz had been lost over time in Clare.

ANZ: My GG Gfather was my brick wall. They lived in Tasmania but I eventually found him giving evidence at his son’s inquest in Victoria

Sophie: FANs = super useful in #genealogy research! “No man is an island”: when one can’t ID an individual in records, often the FAN network isn’t far away. Also very handy for IDing long-dist migration into cities where ppl oft settled near known friends/fam too

Pauleen: I made a great discovery by following up the court case of another Dorfprozelten emigrant, Carl Diflo. He mentions that my ancestor, a witness, was a pork butcher on the gold diggings and he knew George from “home”

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Jennifer: My ancestor was missing in 1851 census in Scotland. Found him in 1861 by tracing a neighbour. That neighbour had moved in 1861 and there was my ancestor living next door. Still don’t know where he was in 1851 but was happy to find him again

Maggie: It’s useful to follow the single or widowed relations as they can lead you to connected households – especially useful when you’re dealing with more common surnames. Having an extended family member pop up in a census return helps piece the puzzle together.

Tara: Also (certainly in Irish census records) pay attention to servants, boarders, lodgers, visitors. I’ve found orphaned cousins and widowed/widowered relatives classed as such

Maggie: I’ve seen quite a few family members turn up as visitors – took me a while to work out they were actually related. (thanks, fam)

Fran: Fans is a tool that I do not use much so hopefully tonight’s tweets will enlighten me with new research techniques

Karen: The 2 brothers (2nd gt g’father and brother) from Cornwall didn’t. One stayed in Sydney, the other – regional NSW. No widows (I think), but one female ancestor who was married to a convict was killed very young in a shocking horse and cart accident.

SOPS: Looking at immigration within the UK (that is, to my #OnePlaceStudy!) rather than across the globe, I have certainly noticed a number of cases where people who arrived in my Place were followed there by other members of their family.

Pauleen: Presumably they followed because there were good employment opportunities and/or a pleasant environment?

SOPS: A small village so relatively limited in the way of employment prospects, but sometimes you have to compare those prospects with the ones left behind! In one case I researched, the people concerned moved from another part of the county effectively ‘in recession’.

Pauleen: Irish women were a bit unusual in being willing to emigrate as young, single women. Not always the case with English girls and young women.

Jill: No FANs of my 10 convict ancestors appeared to follow them.

ANZ: How many families of convicts actually come out after them? Do you know if it was a significant percentage? (Or were most single when they were transported?) I’ve heard it happening, but just wondered how common it was! It must have been costly, and it would have necessitated some kind of correspondence… and how many were literate?

Paula: An aunt and her husband were transported in 1835. I’ve found birth records in Scotland for 3 children. 1 recorded on aunt’s ship. Anyone know what would’ve happened to child (infant) on arrival?

Sue: If sent to Tasmania check out the Queens Orphan school records

Sue: in Tasmania, we have a book with families that came out after a convict, but majority of females got remarried out here even if they were already married in England.

Pauleen: I haven’t found single or widowed family members living with FANs, just family. However, for the Germans, having FANs living nearby must have been a wonderful thing to share language and past experiences.

Karen: My mat. 2nd gt g’father emigrated with his brother. His future partner was alone on the same ship. My mat. grt grandfather was still a baby when he arrived in Australia with his parents/siblings. Others alone/in a couple.

Sue: Have one brother, sister and father convicted together in 1847 in Donegal, Ireland, but can only find the female being transported. No idea where bruv and dad got to. From reading, apparently they stopped shipping male convicts from Ireland for the next few years, so maybe they did die in prison. Father in late 50s son only 14.

ANZ: I’ve found many widowed and single ancestors living with their children and family. In Scotland census the females were usually described as housekeeper

ScienceGiant / Pixabay

Pauleen: Looking at a map of the Fifteen Mile at Murphys Creek Qld I realised there were familiar names of Dorfprozelten people. When a couple married there were kin in neighbouring areas.

Tara: I don’t know about the family who emigrated to Australia/New Zealand. I’ve found it’s much easier to identify existing connections in US

Pauleen: That’s interesting Tara. Is it because they stayed in touch more, or did citizenship docs help? I was confidently told once that no one from the village went to Australia yet there was a mass exodus in the 1850s and 1860s.

Tara: Immigration records at Ellis Island identify a receiving person and their relationship to the immigrant. Also found grandfather travelled with a girl from far end of parish (NYC), possibly the reported girlfriend before my GM! Haven’t found equiv records for Aus NZ

Pauleen: That’s true about the receiving person. Our mid-19th century shipping lists do sometimes include that, and if you’re really lucky the ship’s disposal lists survive but not digitised. Immigration Deposit Journals tell who paid and who came.

Tara: I’ll have to dig into those. I know my great grand uncle sent his two daughters ahead of him and then he and his son followed within a year

ANZ: Spending the time to research FANS can open up new areas of research and/or find missing ancestors. They will often be found hanging out with FANS

Fran: In my UK & Wales census records my Dawson family often have other members of the family at least visiting on the census date. Not sure if these are longer stay though. This has been helpful in confirming family groupings, however.

Jennifer: I have found no evidence of family being sponsored by family or friends.

Pauleen: Maybe, like mine, they were so busy working to get along that they didn’t have spare cash.

ANZ: It took one of my ancestors a few years to pay for them to come out.

Pauleen: Was that from oral history or were there documents for it?

ANZ: Family story, and passenger listings, trying to piece it together. But possibly timing could have been related to family members back in England dying, so more able to travel after that

Sue: One ggggrandmother was 6 months pregnant on arrival and gave birth to my ancestor on the property where her husband was a servant (not convict). He came out with the wife and another daughter under three – eventually they had 6 children but I haven’t found his death anywhere, think might be goldrush time in Victoria where he went soon after last child born

Jennifer: I just remembered one family who came out with extended family – parents, children, grandmother and two aunts. They all travelled together

Pauleen: Some families did travel in clusters, but I’ve found others who came as singles but with Friends/Neighbours especially during the US Civil war when that was less appealing. I admire those elderly relatives who emigrated to stay with family.

ANZ: It’s amazing how many older folk travelled! Even lying about their age on the passenger lists.

Jennifer: It must have been a terrifying concept for older adults at the time

Pauleen: My immigrants must have been broke or selfish, as I can’t find them sponsoring others even where there was chain #migration. The Immigration Deposit Journals have examples where people sponsored their FANs. Pax lists and newspaper notices may also mention it

Dara: My GGG-grandfather, John Radcliffe, settled in Melbourne. He also had a brother and a cousin who emigrated there. The cousin, who was my GGG-Grandfather’s best man met with a tragic ending in an encounter with a train he didn’t hear coming. Trove gave all the gory details

Fran: We were always told that our GGF came with no relatives however through my research I have found a sister and brother that also migrated to NZ. This shows there is a need to be careful as using FANs may have helped my research.

ANZ: Yes! I’ve found some siblings got “lost” or ostracised over time, especially if they married outside the faith. Quite sad when you think about it.

Pauleen: Very true – family fractures did occur, it wasn’t all sweetness and light. I have one branch that shows evidence of being dysfunctional over generation

Paula: My gg grandmother left Scotland for Australia in 1888 with her husband and their children. (not my g grandfather). I’d love to know why they chose Australia and if there were connections there.

Maggie: Lots of chain migration in our family, most prevalent amongst my Kerry ancestors. And they tended to settle in the same area, and build a community there. There’s a good reason there’s a place called Kerrytown in South Canterbury, NZ!

Sue: My great great grandmother arrived in 1855 with her mother, then in 1856, mum sponsored another daughter, husband and in laws

Jill: Yes in the 1830-40s some of my Ryans from Westmeath emigrated with siblings and then others followed them out. In the 1860-70s my Kealys from Kilkenny did the same thing

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DNA and FANs

Tara: Solved a 39cM DNA match because I’d paid attention to witnesses/sponsors. Established relationship between two families, again paying attention to who was present. Not a brick wall, just a thick hedge!

Maggie: I’ve found unknown siblings of my ancestors thanks to DNA matches with their descendants – great to add to the tree!

Pauleen: Over the years I’ve made quite a few discoveries by searching laterally to FANs including extended kin, oral histories, and photos. Distant cousins have also been confirmed through the DNA of known FANs/extended kin

Sue: definitely need to follow siblings etc if using for DNA. Found where in Devon my great great grandfather was born due to his siblings ancestor testing DNA

Jill: Following the Family lines down the generations is essential in #DNA Research if one wants to identify matches

Blog posts

Helen: Using witnesses on documents,

Jennifer: Family immigrating, missing gggrandfather found,

Sue: My unknown Grandfather and DNA

Readers: How has looking at FANs helped with your family history research?