Researching online

Pexels / Pixabay

During 2020, COVID19 shut down many of the record offices, archives and libraries where genealogists around the world would have gone to do some research. But many of these repositories thought outside the box and made some resources available online. Others had already had a great online digitized presence.

These were the questions tonight:

  1. Which main genealogy sites do you use in your research? (subscription & free) What features do you find helpful? ie hints, help sections, records, shaky leaves
  2. Do you have a family tree on any genealogy websites? What are the pros and cons of putting your tree online?
  3. Have you tested your DNA? Is your DNA attached to an online tree and has this been helpful in your research
  4. What genealogy gems have you found on a genealogy website?

Sites used

  • Judy: Links to some of my favourite online resources are in ‘40 of my favourite #genealogy indexes/sources’  Others are about using FindMyPast
  • Jill: I subscribe to the 3 big subscription databases and the Free Familysearch. Love to have the convenience of anywhere, anytime availability. Other than those my staples are Trove, the NAA, NSW State Records.  I forgot to mention the Ryerson index in my list of staples. It is always open in a tab when doing Australian research. I also love the Australian Cemeteries Index and any other online cemetery index.
  • Fran: I use @Ancestry and @MyHeritage as both have loads of records and useful DNA functionality including matches to review.
  • Maggie P: Papers Past here in NZ is free and has helped me find some really informative bits of family history, and has sorted out more than a few queries
  • Pauleen: which online sites I use depends on what type of research and which country I’m focused on. I also use them to complement and crosscheck each other
  • Sandra: The most helpful for me is Ancestry and FamilySearch websites and the church record images (German research)
  • Margaret: WikiTree, FamilySearch, Ancestry, Google, Internet Archive, Find my Past, Find a Grave, BDM Online, Archway, Papers Past, Scotlands People, FreeCen, FreeReg, FreeBMD, Irishgenealogy, GRO, Canadian records, USA records, Trove, etc. I forgot about Online Cenotaph for war records. Always look there for people of the right age group.
  • Pauleen: I find Council cemetery sites invaluable for tracing deceased relatives. You can search by Council /place + cemetery. So many are online now but Toowoomba led the field.
Skitterphoto / Pixabay
  • Jennifer: I Mainly use @Ancestry @findmypast @FamilySearch plus the Ancestry app. There are others I use from time to time depending on my area of research at the time
  • Shauna: Trove is my must go to website for Australian digitised newspapers. You can find some really great stories for your relatives. SA Genealogy is real value for money, have been a member for years
  • Fran: PapersPast is one of my favourites, probably 1st. I think it is because my GGF and GF were always there submitting articles and adverts. My favourites are papers past from NZ and the index search for Births, Deaths and Marriage in NZ. It covers the vital records and filling in the gaps between with Papers Past in just two sites. Always have a browser open for these 2
  • Brooke: I subscribe to Ancestry, FindMyPast, & British Newspaper Archives. My tree(s) are on Ancestry & my favourite feature is the record sets catalogue. I don’t use FamilySearch very much. I don’t know how to get the best out of it (& I don’t like the idea of the global tree). Tasmanian Names Index is brilliant for researching my husband’s family…& random convicts just for the fun of it
  • Maggie P: When I started researching it was hard to find much Irish info- but now a whole lot is available online eg civil registration, censuses, Griffiths land valuations
  • Maggie: I use mostly FamilySearch, FindmyPast and Ancestry, plus also ScotlandsPeople and irishgenealogy.ie. I love that they all have different strengths (and records!)  how could I forget about FreeBMD, and also GRO! Not to mention our very own bdmhistoricalrecords.dia.govt.nz
  • Pauleen: The thing I love most about Trove (and Papers Past for NZers) is that you can find stories you’d never have been able to find any other way -unless scrolling through decades of papers is your thing.
  • Pauleen: Favourite sites include FindMyPast (Irish), Ancestry (DNA and general), ScotlandsPeople (Scotland), ScotlandsPlaces, Nat Lib Scotland, TROVE, FamilySearch, DNAPainter, MyHeritage etc. I’d place Trove & ScotlandsPeople ahead of all the rest except for DNA
  • Margaret: For DNA matching I use Ancestry, MyHeritage, FTDNA and Gedmatch. I belong to various Facebook groups. I research on my Legacy tree building my matches’ pedigrees to find our MRCA
  • Carmel: The familysearch wiki familysearch.org/wiki/en/Main_P… is always a good place to start but Trove has been my favourite for quite a while
  • Jane: Ancestry, FindMyPast etc. for records, DNAPainter for useful tools, Papers Past and Trove for newspapers etc. … lots of other places e.g., Lancashire Online Parish Clerk … depends what I am focused on.
  • Soc OPS: FMP has scans of Shropshire, Staffordshire & Cheshire PRs, invaluable to my #OnePlaceStudy research and otherwise only accessible at archives (currently closed), so in practical terms that’s as close to those sources as I can get. Ditto other PRs on Ancestry.
  • Pauleen: I much prefer to go direct to source when searching rather than through the “genealogy giants”. I use Qld BDM extensively and NSW as required
  • Dara: Main sites are Ancestry for trees & Findmypast for records, and where ever else the research goes. For DNA it’s Ancestry & MyHeritage. Tested at FTDNA but it’s sooo slow. May delete GEDmatch kits -concerned as users say deleted kits have reappeared. Watching!
  • Maggie ~scans: have had some great success with Ireland Reaching Out website- found a second cousin who was able to identify who was in a photo. And remain in contact.
  • Fiona: Beyond the main paid sites, I use a number of websites for my research. I have the main NZ ones listed on my website and others I have pinned on Pinterest.
  • Soc OPS: For my #OnePlaceStudy research I typically use Ancestry, FMP, FreeBMD, Shropshire BMD, GRO birth/death indexes, FamilySearch, British Newspaper Archive, GENUKI, National Library of Scotland Maps, Streetmap, Google / Google Books and others. From these sources I use records, newspaper notices and articles, parish / locality info, old and current maps, old books and whatever Google searches can bring me! And yes, Ancestry Hints and member trees too, evaluated before being accepted / rejected

    DariuszSankowski / Pixabay
  • Hilary: I mainly use @MyHeritage for DNA matches and doing more on updating my connection to global tree @WikiTreers and @FamilySearch
  • Maggie: great to double check the same record sets across the various sites. I get free access via our National Library when I need it.
  • Maggie: Quite a few digitised records now available from here too (including WW1 service records, some land indexes): archway.archives.govt.nz
  • Jane: The New Zealand Electronic Text Collection can be useful … nzetc.victoria.ac.nz I have found one or two gems there
  • Hilary: I am using more free to access sites now and my National library of Wales access to some subscription sites
  • Sue: For DNA stuff, definitely Ancestry, FTDNA, MyHeritage, LivingDNA – but as most of my research was Tasmanian based, then Libraries Tasmania Tasmanian Names Index
  • Pauleen: I am not happy with some Family Search databases now which comply with legal requirements but IMO don’t with ethics since they include full details of a person’s Birth and parents’ marriage, not to mention adoptions.
  • Pauleen: Do you use the catalogue to search what’s available for your area, irrespective of the site you’re using? It helps you to understand what one site offers compared to another.
  • Shauna: Archway is the NZ Archives online catalogue – similar to RecordSearch in NAA or any of the state archives catalogues. Names have been indexed and some digitisation too
  • Maggie: I’ve used The Genealogist for English tithe records – great resource – but I don’t find the search facility very intuitive. Need to spend more time on the site!
  • Pauleen: MyHeritage is a bit of an acquired skill to use I’ve found and I think it’s become more challenging rather than less. Conversely they have good German family trees that match mine.
  • Sandra G: top 5 are Trove, Ancestry, SA Genealogy (member), NSW State Archives, National Archives for War service records
  • Pauleen: Records are my main reason I use all the online sites. Hints and shaky leaves intermittently – Having researched for so long I can usually recognise a valid hint immediately. Other’s trees as clues to more recent info and cousin contact info.
  • Hilary: I use Ancestry and FMP mainly Family Search sometimes also The Genealogist I rarely use My Heritage as don’t like results
  • Pauleen: Do you know you can see the British (and Irish) newspapers online if you have a Nat Library of Australia card? Also JSTOR articles…was very excited when that was done!
  • Sharn: My most used sites are Familysearch, FindmyPast, Ancestry.com, The Genealogist, Roots Ireland, Emerald Ancestors, Scotlands People, Trove, British Newspaper Archives, DNA painter
  • Pauleen: And FindMyPast is the go to for Irish records as well as irishgenealogy.ie and registers.nli.ie Fingers crossed the GV will eventually be digitised online
fumingli / Pixabay

 

Trees: Where? Pros/Cons

  • Sharn: I have both public and private trees on Ancestry too. Trees I research for others are always private. My own extensive tree is public but if I’m researching actively and putting out feelers I set it to private. I have made contacts via my blog too but my best contacts have come from my Ancestry tree. A few from my My Heritage tree also. I uploaded my Ancestry Gedcom to FamilySearch specifically so I could participate in relatives around me at Rootstech. Someone changed something in my tree but it was easily fixed.
  • Sue: My main family tree online is with Ancestry but I have a basic one on MyHeritage and Family Search – find them difficult to make changes but I also have a much larger tree on home computer. In the profiles of people on my Ancestry tree, I include links to online records other than those from Ancestry databases – eg Trove, Tasmanian Names Index etc. Proves to readers you have done more research.
  • Sharn: I’ve been using the web links and the DNA tags but my tree is large so I’ll keep plodding away.
  • Maggie: I have a number of family trees online, but all are private except for skeleton ones connected to DNA accounts I manage. I think I need to flesh the latter ones out to make the most of the matching functionality.
  • Margaret: My Legacy tree on my computer is about 10,000 people. It goes everywhere including hypothetical people. I use that to get my GEDCOM but I limit that. I have lots of experimental trees too for DNA matches. I need to add more sources. I have put GEDCOMS of my Legacy tree on Ancestry, Gedmatch and FTDNA. I used to have a large MyHeritage tree, but I have deleted it back to the minimum size as I do not want to have to spend time updating that
  • Fiona: I have my main tree offline (great for creating reports for book skeletons) and only use my online trees for generating hints and DNA connections.
  • Gen X Alogy: I have a tree on Ancestry. Downside is keeping track of bits I may not wish to have uploaded, but that’s about it… so many upsides, particularly using it/having it used to connect with distant cousins. I’ve met so many great people!!
  • Shauna: Blaine Bettinger stressed complete trees when he was out here and I have been finding it really useful to trace all descendants of an ancestor couple where possible
  • Hilary: I have been updating my connections @WikiTreers with better citations and connected to @FamilySearch tree my Ancestry tree has always been private and needs updating get more connections on free sites. I like that I can write a biography for an individual @WikiTreers
  • Sandra G: I have my own website but I have not updated in a while. have public trees and some private trees on ancestry. Con for ancestry is people just copying without contacting or responding to messages.
  • Carmel: In my online tree at MyHeritage I include links to blog posts I have written about folks
  • Sandra G: So in saying that for messages on ancestry I did today receive a reply From a message I sent 13 years ago.
  • Sharn: I find having a tree online is an excellent way to find relatives providing their tree is correct. People copying my tree and popping it on to the wrong family is a downside. But the good outweighs the bad
  • Pauleen: Not to mention using photos that have a clear copyright symbol and name on them where I’ve taken them overseas. I’ve written to a few people who’ve used people photos that are incorrect – some reply and correct. I do find it frustrating when I get in touch with someone because of linked trees (& maybe DNA) and where I offer new info, only to find the next time they’ve made the tree private.
  • Brooke: But how do you decide what to leave out? Knock on wood, but I haven’t seen any negatives yet from having my full tree online.
  • Margaret: I have worked on my and many other families on FamilySearch, removing duplicates and confirming information from other records like BDM Online. I have put about 600 profiles on @WikiTreers which includes my pedigree line. I am checking these again to add any further information which will take some months. That is my best tree
  • Shauna: I have my tree online in a few places plus I have blogged about families too. It is definitely cousin bait as I have made connections I would not necessarily found. Sharing online seems to be one of the ways to make sure your research is findable in future
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  • Pauleen: I agree that blogging brings all sorts of information to the fore, much completely unexpected. Similarly having a network of people who know your research interests can make a big difference
  • Maggie ~scans: I was able to put some of my Dad’s WW2 photos online there- he had named the people in them. They let me know one day that someone had found their father in one of my Dad’s photos
  • Jane: My main trees are on Ancestry and backed up to my computer using FamilyTreeMaker. Having trees online helps with connections and collaboration
  • Carmel: online @ MyHeritage and limited trees on Ancestry and FMP All good for finding rellies. My ancestors don’t belong to just me. Gradually adding some to FamilySearch and Wikitree
  • Jill: The biggest pro is making connections. I wouldn’t put everything online just enough to be effective cousin bait.
  • Pauleen: PROS: Online trees can help you identify cousins even if they only have basic trees. They may know how many living family members of a branch. You can use them to connect for DNA. They can also see your line for DNA and research.   CONS: The inevitable potential for errors to be made, the unreliability of the data recorded, the dead-ends in many US trees when they reach immigrants, the one or three person “trees” for DNA matches
  • Fran: Keeping multiple trees is time consuming so they do get out of date easily. Sometimes I just use branches. I like the hints however can turn them off to stay focused.
  • Brooke: Ancestry is where my online tree lives. I recently ‘upgraded’ it to contain all my family tree branches & I’ve been getting great cousin participation. I sync my Ancestry trees to Family Tree Maker.
  • Fran: One of my goals with the Ancestry Tree is to improve others trees. I always attached good sources so that others might review these and fix their trees. Mine is not perfect however I do use disclaimers, eg not verified
  • Jill: I believe that, if you want to make connections you must put your research out there in cyberspace. My main database is on my PC but I have my own website, and scaled down trees on the Big 4.

DNA – matches, searching


  • Jill: I have tested with the 5 main companies. The best results have come from Ancestry. My aboriginal ethnicity been confirmed – the family stories were right. I have made new connections and reconnected with other cousins
  • Dara: Sadly, my matches are rarely interested in collaborating. What is wrong with my family?!!!
  • Maggie: I was lucky my parents were happy to do it – I gave them as Christmas gifts one year. Only took them nine months to actually do them!
  • Fiona: @patientgenie and I have done two Ancestry Facebook videos on DNA.
  • Sharn: I visited a third cousin in Chicago who found me on Ancestry. I arrived there in 2015 with DNA kits. We spat together in her kitchen the morning after I arrived and all I could think was – what if we aren’t related….. we were!
  • Sandra G: DNA on Ancestry. This has helped to confirm actual research. Also for my great great grandfather, I am sure I have worked from matches that he is not who he says he was. I need to write up my research to post it to my blog to
  • Maggie: Quite a few matches coming through on MyHeritage, but they seem to have less useful trees on there, sometimes difficult to identify where they fit in. I have a basic pedigree public for each of my parents, but it’s useful to go wide and include more than just direct ancestors – easier to identify where matches fit in. I tend to do that part offline at the moment.
  • Sue: tested with Ancestry and Living DNA but also uploaded to MyHeritage, FTDNA and Gedmatch. Attached to trees on each site where possible and been very helpful especially my dad’s DNA tests – I look after about 8 DNA tests for relatives. Many I asked to prove or disprove NPE with Dad’s DNA – found he now only has half relations except for my brother and I
  • Jennifer: I was planning on learning more about DNA at DNA Down Under but was sick and couldnt go. Still don’t know much. I have had my DNA tested by @Ancestry As yet I have only attached it to my basic outline tree on Ancestry My only excuse for this is slackness. I haven’t done anything useful to my research with my DNA results. They are just sitting there waiting for me to learn more about DNA.
  • Shauna: My grandmother always refused to talk to me about the family and told me not to trace back. I always thought it was about the skeletons in her family – little did I know she was hiding her own skeleton. Truth will out
Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay
  • Soc OPS: Ancestry DNA (for myself, my father, my brothers and several cousins, linked to my Ancestry tree) which has helped confirm much of my paper trail research; no breakthroughs on my brickwall born-out-of-wedlock ancestors yet though. Plus yDNA.
  • Margaret: Parents and all 1st cousins on my father’s side dead. Two siblings have not tested. I’m the oldest, so my DNA is the best available. It seems to go back to early 1700s. I’ve done two and a third is on its way to me. Both attached to trees, one private one not. Without DNA matching I would have had no chance to find my father’s family which seems to have missed most records. I spend much time going through a list of kits. I have about 200,000 DNA matches within my close family and various cousins at various distances. I found my 2xgreat grandfather’s family by DNA matching combines with research. Now I am on the trail of the generation before,
  • Maggie ~scans: With a combo of IrelandReachingOUt website, my DNA matches, and FB- I had organised to meet a knowledgeable cousin in Ireland last year- but with COVid the trip never happened. Having my DNA attached to a tree has helped me clarify more about my Scettrini matches who emigrated to the US. Helpful as some in Oz have gone up the wrong tree!
  • Shauna: Testing my DNA revealed a very close family secret which was a shock. But then DNA helped me find my father’s biological family. No regrets because I prefer the truth.
  • Sharn: I have my DNA linked to trees on Ancestry and My Heritage. I love the moment when I click on a tree match and find the DNA also matches. The paper trail is confirmed
  • Brooke: my DNA test is connected to my Ancestry tree. So is Dad’s test. There’s some real potential there to break down the brick wall that is the mystery of Dad’s maternal grandfather
  • Jill: Haven’t found a close NPE yet but I think my large match with Mr Smith might be one. I can see that he has read my last message. Just wish he would answer!
  • Sandra C: I did an Ancestry DNA test and uploaded those results to MyHeritage and FTDNA. Two of those are attached to a tree. Very helpful. Trees are private though while I try to push back further in time and until I can find documents to further prove things.
  • Hilary: I tested with @myheritagedna but not had much success matches are distant and other trees non existent
  • Maggie: I’ve had mine and my parents’ DNA tested, and attached trees to theirs. It has been wonderful to use the results to help back up research I’ve done over the years and confirm hypotheses
  • Fran: DNA attached to my tree in @Ancestry and @MyHeritage. Does help you locate branches for DNA matches.
  • Jane: I have tested with 3 companies and have uploaded to a number of others … I always link my DNA to myself … it helps to make connections so that I can build in collateral lines
  • Pauleen: Yes I’ve tested with most of the big companies or uploaded. I’ve connected DNA to my online tree. It’s much more helpful now more people have tested and I can more readily assign them to my lines. None of the DNA companies have shown my German ethnicity, and Irish is haphazard. Cousins testing has been helpful in confirming paper trails and distant connections.

    cattu / Pixabay

Genealogy gems

  • Pauleen: I think what you get with NLA is the same as the subscription sites. Keep planning to do a full comparison, but haven’t. I use my FMP subs for newspaper searching mostly. I was doing cartwheels when I learned about JSTOR via NLA.
  • Maggie: I did a lot of my NZ research from England while I was living there – plenty of online resources available, and easy to order certs/printouts. Enjoy!
  • Society for OPS: I’ve found gems for others too, including a friend & former work colleague who was adopted as a baby. Traditional research on her maternal side (one ancestor was a stage magician!), DNA eventually unravelled her paternal side and revealed half-siblings!
  • Maggie: The most significant gem would have to be John Burke’s baptism in Aughagower parish, Co Mayo – found on RootsIreland. Was the beginning of identifying extended family all in one townland.
  • Fiona: Everyday brings genealogy gems – some happy, some not. This week has included a young family of girls emigrating from Aust to NZ in 1883 and finding out what happened to them; and today it was a murder. Each adds to the wider family story.
  • Hilary: I find the GRO indexes have helped me find missing relatives and prove a family story regarding a child who died young. Premature birth found inquest in newspaper
  • Sharn: Thanks to a passenger record for a Pan Clipper I am trying to work out why my g uncle was flying between England and New York during WW2. Was he a spy?
  • SocOPS: So many, for my own tree, and for my #OnePlaceStudy and one-name study research, it’s difficult to know where to start! Photos, records, newspaper reports . . . online resources have been a treasure trove (just as well during a pandemic-induced lockdown!)
  • Sue: Researching my direct relatives wills, I found out who gave me my piano that I used to play as a child. Didn’t know it then though.  Then I found out my GGgrandmothers brother-in-law was a piano maker in Hobart – I now wonder if the piano had come down through the family from then in the 1860s
Tama66 / Pixabay
  • Sharn: Last year through a DNA match on Ancestry.com and building a tree I linked an adoptee to my family tree. He was adopted in the 1940’s and has now met his half siblings in the US. Quite a Gem
  • Hilary: my gems have got to be newspaper finds on @findmypast things such as obituaries, Marriages and inquests various court reports and even properly sale pointing to a Burial date
  • Margaret: I found by DNA matching and research that my great grandmother’s sister had emigrated to Invercargill and was buried in the local cemetery. She had my two forenames.
  • Sandra C: My genealogy gems are when looking through the German church records and being able to find the whole family. Sad though when you find a brother or sister only to find they died at age 2.
  • Shauna: A fantastic find was a sketch of my GG grandfather in a digitised newspaper. With no photos, this was really good
  • Carmel: on Trove wonderful description of my parents wedding and extensive reporting of gt-grandparents golden wedding celebrations, on FS will of gt grandfather giving his land to daughter, my grandmother
  • Pauleen: Trove discoveries include the extent of an ancestors confectionery skills, fires, floods & near-death experiences. Another great grandfather was a bandmaster in Longreach -lost to the family memory. Recently that a great aunt had briefly joined the convent.
  • Brooke: Can’t go past Aunty Joy who found me using Ancestry messaging. She really was a gem.
  • Pauleen: Finding a news story about my great-grandfather’s anti-vax stand and with wonderful assistance from a genimate, proving a family story & learning more about my ancestor’s experience
  • Pauleen: My genealogy gems have mainly been found offline in libraries and archives. Trove however is gold for revealing all sorts of real-life stories about my ancestors that would otherwise never be known.

Love this quote:

Carmel and Fran: Love that comment that your ancestors don’t just belong to you. Sometimes people seem to be a bit territorial with their research.

Readers: What are your three favourite places to research online? Why those three?

What do you do to earn a quid?

We had our regular tweeters but also joined by a few more who had specific information relating to this week’s topic.

Occupations

Questions were: 

  1. Share the resources and repositories that helped you discover ancestors’ occupations and put their work & life in context?
  2. Tell us about an ancestor with an unusual or dangerous occupation, child labour or a now-uncommon job?
  3. Are there occupations in your family that have passed down to the next generations?
  4. What resources do you review to find out more on businesses & business owners, self employed or financially independent ancestors?

Format for the post will be resources to check out, then occupations relating to our ancestors and finally some questions about unusual occupations and where to find the answers.

Resources to find information relating to occupations and context in life

  • Directories and electoral rolls
  • Census records
  • Newspapers including advertisements, articles and family notices
  • Pre UK census try UK Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices’ Indentures 1710-1811 (National Archives & Ancestry)
  • Public Record Offices for Government occupations
  • Birth, death and marriage records
  • Obituaries but as Sue said they are only as accurate as the informants knowledge – pioneers of the district could have been convicts in reality
  • Title Deeds to property owned list the occupation of owners
  • Apprentice records
  • Military records
  • Wills and probate records
  • 1939 register
  • UK Merchant Navy records: Register of Seamen at TNA or on FMP, Seamen’s tickets, Voyage details for crew lists.
  • Academic journals (JSTOR) through the National Library of Australia
  • Gale newspaper access for occupation background and risks of jobs.
  • Books, books, books and reading
  • Regional Archives
  • Regional and local family history society newsletters
  • Guild records from apprentice to master
  • Immigration passenger lists
  • Council Records
  • Employment lists for businesses
  • Lately bankruptcy records have been adding lots to research on employers.

Specific links

Personal responses

Angela: Census records that revealed I am descended from a ‘Herd’ and a ‘Brush’ . (I kid you not)

Fran: My Cornish miners jobs could be dangerous. The average age of death was 28th years and 4 months. So young.

Pauleen: My dad was a numbertaker – say what, an undertaker? Nope, a numbertaker or tally clerk working with freight distribution in the railway shunting yards. Not quite as dangerous as shunting but still very hazardous.

Sharn: The most dangerous occupation my ancestors had was MINING. I discovered a g g uncle was killed in a mining accident ‘killed by an explosion of fie damp’ on the Scottish Mining Website.

Jane: My ancestors all seem to have fairly standard occupations … Farmers, agricultural labourers, domestic servants, Bricklayers and other tradesmen … Although I do have a rat catcher!

272447 / Pixabay

Hilary: my husband’s grandfather died after a fall working in an Ironstone quarry; my gt uncle was killed whilst working in the docks a cargo fell on him

Allie: I have lots of newspaper compositors and handloom weavers in my family, not unusual at the time but definitely rare today. Not aware of any work accidents, but I’m sure much of the work my ancestors did was dangerous or hazardous to health in the long term.

Sue: My Great great grandmothers sister married RG Winters who was a pianoforte maker. Married in England, migrated to Tasmania, Had a pianoforte factory in Elizabeth Street Hobart

ANZ: And quarry workers and stonemasons often had lung diseases….this asbestosis. Occupations were so hazardous before OH&S awareness but there are still random injuries.

Seonaid: A lot of my ancestors were ag labs, carpenters, navy or army, cab drivers, fruit and veg sales. I do have a female ancestor who took over her husband’s butchery business when he died. Although I expect that’s not unusual.

Pauleen: Generations ago I had miners in Northumberland – another dangerous occupation with the possibility of child labour though I’ve found none

Sue: I have three brothers, one my great grandfather, who survived the 1912 Mt Lyell mining disaster

ANZ: Who remembers when the rat catchers from the council would come round with their fox terriers checking for rats when people still had backyard dunnies?

Fiona: Inspector of Nuisances in a clients family. Image of one here.

Jennifer: My friend’s ancestor worked in a tiny building in the forest in Belgium checking undetonated bombs

OPS: Earlier this year our response to the A-Z Blogging Challenge featured contributions from members on a range of occupations, including Apple Crusher, Dominatrix, Jester, Number Taker, Pig-jobber and Tabernarius!

Dara: My GG-grandfather was a coachman, a servant in a big house. I love the idea of him hitching up the horses and strolling, or racing, through the streets, taking his master to where-ever. Probably my imagination pictures a more romantic version of his job.

addesia / Pixabay

Jill: Husband’s ancestor, Francis Jollie Gowans, was appointed Honorary Surgeon to the King in 1937

Mining the Past: One of the next door neighbours to my miner ancestor was a pit pony driver, aged 13.  My family were miners right up until my maternal grandfather. He suffered from miners lung and had to stop hewing. He was elected pithead weighman on behalf of the miners ie checking the company weighman was weighing the coal accurately so they got paid fairly.

Sue: My great great grandfather had a fairly easy life as head gardener to the Governor of Tasmania in the 1860s and 1870s. Lots of write ups in paper about winning competitions etc

Sue: My other great great grandfather (before he was proved by DNA not to be mine) was a whaling captain and many of his descendants still keep jobs to do with water

Seonaid: Navy & army were pretty regular patterns in my family on both sides. My 3xgr gfather & 2x gr gfather were paper stainers. Found a wallpaper factory near where they lived. I do wonder how 1 ancestor went from a candle & soap worker to planemaker in 10 years.

Angela: have generations of railway workers …porters, station masters. Wonderful that their homes are listed in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage

Sharn: I have used newspaper advertisements and calls tender to find the buildings, houses and rail carriages a gg grandfather constructed in Sydney NSW

Jennifer: Have found business ads on Trove, Wills, Rate books

Pauleen: Court cases can tell you where someone was and who they knew. My George Kunkel was called as a witness to an equity case revealing he was a pork butcher on the gold fields at Tooloom, NSW, travelling from Ipswich Qld.

 

Brooke: When reading census records this list of old English occupations may come in handy. Researching the COLLIDGE family, I came across the occupation CLICKER; someone who worked in the shoe trade cutting out the lowers.

Sophie: One of the things I’ve been struck by in preparing the Occupations tweet series is what a range of dreadful health hazards were associated with so many jobs in yesteryear – hand planking one example

Dara: I struggle to find much information concerning many ancestors’ occupations, that is specific to their own job, other than on BMDs. Trade directories help for some tradesmen.

Pauleen: I found references to my carpenter ancestor in Ipswich burial registers. Fires, flood and disasters can bring up news stories of how my self-employed ancestors were impacted

Fran: Thinking you need to verify the occupations. On the first property we purchased the bank wrote “wife” for me and Stephen made them change it to “Product Manager” so like all sources – CHECK

Carmel: The back of directories for business advertisers

Jennifer: I do have a few ancestors who stated their occupation as ‘gentleman’. Wishful thinking I’m sure

Fran: On passenger lists I have found a number of ancestors occupations. It’s good for people that travelled often as you can see changes in roles, promotions, etc

Dara: Funnily enough, when my GGG-grandfather, who left Ireland a plasterer, became a successful building contractor in Australia, he claimed he was a Gentleman on some records.

Mining the Past: I have an ancestor in Gateshead who worked at the ‘railway staithes’. From maps identified as Dunston Staithes, the largest existing wooden structure in Europe and a visitor attraction!! Guess where I’ll be visiting next UK trip 🙂

TryJimmy / Pixabay

Society of OPS: The Gazette is another great source of business / company info for the UK

Fiona: Check @ArchivesNZ for files on the stations. Have been looking at these in the last week and have found house plans for the houses being rented and sold at the end of their use by railways.

Allie: Mostly censuses and vital records. Otherwise I’ve found a few newspaper reports and adverts that have mentioned employers or business locations, and I’ve also used street and business directories. FindMyPast is good for trade union records

Occupations often passed down through the generations included:

shoemakers, gardeners, coachmen, schoolmasters, coal miners, ag labs, merchant marines, weavers, lacemakers, railway workers, butchers, blacksmithing, tailor, pipers, compositors, watchmakers

Things to follow up on: videos, other twitter chats, competition

  • Today will be of interest to @OnePlaceStudies members engaged in our 2020 Shared Endeavour of Employment and Occupations in our #OnePlaceStudies!
  • Videos to check out from OPS , the twitter chat from the OPS Conference 2020 including occupations
  • Dr Sophie Kay has an Occupation of the day twitter hashtag. Follow it here and learn more about unusual occupations.
  • Also from Dr Sophie Kay: just a little heads-up for those of you who enjoy competitions: keep an eye out for a Twitter/blog announcement from me next month, as I’ll be running a little Xmas Quiz competition themed around the #OccupationOfTheDay strand!

Readers: Check out the OccupationOfTheDay hashtag to find out the answers to these unusual occupations.

Jacker off, Keel Fleeter, Equilibrist or Knife shaver