Nick’s Blog – Another Hectic Week!

Royal Marines Museum (in passing)

Image via Wikipedia

Is it becoming a catchphrase to say that it’s been a busy week again? Probably… but then, those who know me will realise that every week is busy until I’ve finished the book on Greater London, completed the last of the course preparation for the University of Dundee (I’m writing a module on House History as part of the MA syllabus) and worked on various projects relating to education, ancestral tourism, and digitization – let alone the work I do for the FreeBMD group and the associated Open Genealogy Alliance

However, this week – aside from the above – I went to the Royal Marines Museum, Southsea. It was a fantastic experience; thanks to Claire Chapman for setting this up, and even bigger thanks Matt Little for giving me such an overview of the work they do to bring the rich history of the Marines to life. I did not realise how much archival material they had at their disposal, linking directly into the service papers at The National Archives and allowing researchers to really put ‘flesh on the bones’. They are working on a three stage project to bring their catalogue to a wider audience, and part of their strategy involves an exhibition, currently on display in the museum until April, relating to family history research. You can find out more about the museum in a forthcoming issue of Your Family History, and Matt has kindly invited me back to film a vodcast there in the New Year. Watch this space for dates, but if you have any queries relating to your ancestors who were with the Royal Marines, send them in to us and we’ll try to use them as a case study in that episode.

I hope you’ve been watching Find My Past on the Yesterday channel; it’s been a refreshing spin on family history and the link to historical events, and it was great to work on the show from both a research and onscreen perspective.

News just in: My Heritage has acquired FamilyLink Inc, including the and websites that, combined, contain over 3 billion historical records. This is a major entry into the US dataset market, and it will be interesting to see how this strategy develops when linked to their existing social network sites.

Finally, how about a radical suggestion on which it would be great to get some comments and feedback from you? It struck me that there are several institutions that operate in the genealogy sector – the Federation of Family History Societies, the Society of Genealogists, the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives – as well as the British Association for Local History whose work overlap in certain areas. Would it be an idea to have a Council for Genealogy and Local History where representatives meet up four times a year to discuss the potential for collaborative work in three or four specified areas, such as education or digitization for example? Let me know what you think.

More next week (and hopefully some news about developments in the ancestral tourism sector), in the meantime please do drop us a line via facebook or twitter.



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Nick’s News and Future Enhancements

It’s been a busy week, trying to get as much material together for this new venture as possible! A quick word about what we’ll be putting onto this website. I’ll be blogging once a week, but watch out for our guest posts; whilst Laura will be tweeting and managing our Facebook presence. Keep sending in your ideas about what we can discuss in our Top Ten Tips feature, and email in your stories so we can put together a case study to help other viewers.

Also, a big ‘thank you’ to My Heritage who are supporting this venture; I’ve been impressed with their approach to personal archiving, and as well as helping get Family History Show off the ground, they are also kindly assisting with an education pilot that’s running in a number of schools across the country, called Making History and run by the actor Colin McFarlane. Some amazing stories emerging from the work of these enthusiastic students (aged 8-18)…

We’re still building additional features to the site. A few suggestions have come in for a resource list, linked to the Top Ten Tips – working on it! We are also exploring an online shop, where you can get selected materials and publications to help you with your research.

Royal Marine MuseumWe hope you like the Dan Cruickshank interview. It was great fun to film. I’ve known Dan for the best part of 15 years, and it was tremendously kind of him to give up his time to share his passion for old home movies. The idea to view the films he’d collected appeared as a tentative suggestion, and our cameraman Seb knew of a little shop in Hackney that might have the right projectors. We all jumped in a cab, and we held our breath as Umit looked at the film that contained grainy images of Mickey Mouse…  Could it be a lost classic worth thousands of pounds? The results of our impromptu viewing are well worth a watch, if you haven’t seen it already.

I’ve been continuing to work on the history of Greater London (this will be a weekly feature until all the chapters are finally delivered to my publisher Nigel, who  is simply the nicest and most patient man in the world) as well as running around the country talking to county archives, extolling the virtues of ancestral tourism as a way forward whilst exploring collaborative opportunities for family history societies, voluntary groups like FreeBMD / FreeCEN / FreeREG, and county archives to transcribe document content whilst permitting commercial companies to charge subscribers to view the actual images that they have digitised (unless a free digitisation agency appears that can cope with the sheer amount of work, although there has already been one such offer that’s being investigated at the moment). This is a thorny issue, as there is no standard model across the country – but ‘best practice’ that keeps all parties happy will gradually emerge.

I’m looking forward to a visit to the Royal Marine museum next week, and then a catch up with the Ancestral Tourism Partnership in Nottingham on 25 November. So it’s all go this end, and no rest in site with Christmas beginning to loom on the horizon.


Watching Family History Vodcasts Is Both Entertaining And Full Of Information

family history showcaseFamily History Vodcasts provide a monthly glimpse of pertinent genealogy information, for people interested in tracing personal heritage. Nick Barratt and Laura Berry present the best tips in genealogy, while entertaining the audience with actual case studies. Insider trade secrets, frequently used by expert historians, are shared- including how to access some of Britain’s best archives!

In The Family History Show monthly video podcasts, viewers may participate in sharing their personal stories about historical discoveries or hear about Nick’s Top Ten Genealogy Tips. Vodcast subject matter includes learning about tracing bloodlines back to Royalty or hearing the real-life story of the Titanic’s last living survivor. Each month, viewers can watch a newly-added vodcast or study previously-released vodcasts, to review past research topics.

The Family History Show vodcasts are the progressive culmination of other work Nick and Laura have worked on, together. Laura Berry, Nick’s co-presenter on the video podcasts, worked with him on other projects, related to tracing family roots. “Who Do You Think You Are?” and “Find My Past” may have convinced viewers that the process of discovering personal heritage was simple. In the video podcasts, viewers get expanded insider information, in an entertaining manner.

Viewers can learn where to find basic research resources, besides information about the archives or research institutions, required to complete the task of finding family roots. Some of the entertaining video podcasts on The Family History Show will include interviews of professional historians. Various projects and insights will be discussed, which reveal additional tips. Each vodcast will feature monthly “Top Ten Tips” on the subject matter, but additional insight can be discovered from other top historians, which provide interesting perspectives.

Nick Barratt continues to provide live speaking engagements about family history and the media, but ancestral tourism is another active initiative, in the upcoming schedule. Besides monthly vodcasts, there are ongoing educational projects that Nick is involved with. Preservation of historical archives and public records, rights of public access to these records and further educating the general public about the importance of genealogy, are some of Nick’s personal crusades.

For those people interested in learning more about genealogy, The Family History Show video podcasts can be an easy way to learn more about historical research. Nick’s weekly blog is another convenient way to find out about upcoming vodcasts or some of the fascinating stories Laura and Nick are working on. Viewers may have valuable archives in their attic or storage and these forgotten photos or documents, letters and objects could be highlighted in upcoming episodes.

With Internet access, you can be entertained by The Family History Show vodcasts and learn more about genealogy. Top Ten Tips and interesting interviews or discussions with knowledgeable historians, provides information to help those people participating in their own research. Nick Barratt and Laura Berry have a personal passion for any research of historical value and the monthly vodcasts share these unique perspectives, with a worldwide Internet audience.

Guest post by Alec Tritton – see the Tritton Family History website

The Family History Show – Let Me Explain…..

Welcome to the Family History Show website and vodcast, and in particular my weekly blog. I’d better start by explaining why I’ve decided to create yet another family history website, and how the concept emerged.

In many ways, it’s a natural expansion of some of the other work I’ve been doing with Laura Berry, the co-presenter of the vodcast – in particular our magazine, Your Family History. We’re fascinated by the stories that are out there, as well as the forgotten archives, documents, photos and letters that are in your hands rather than in archives or libraries.

Equally, we’re very aware of the fact that a number of the programmes we’ve worked on over the years, such as Who Do You Think You Are and more recently Find My Past can make the process of uncovering one’s roots seem a bit, well, easy… So we’re committed to redressing this balance by filming sequences in archives and research institutions across the country, showing you how to use key resources to track particular elements of your family, as well as giving you our ‘Top Ten Tips’ each month on a chosen topic, starting with the basics resources before moving onto more complicated topics. These will build up into a collection, reflected in a range of e-books that we’ll be giving away or hosting online for you to refer to.

We will also be interviewing a range of interesting historians as they talk about objects or projects that they’ve found particularly interesting over the years, personal insights into what makes them tick as both people and professionals.

There will also be guest blogs, news and views, and a range of growing features across the site, mainly promoted via our social media network on Facebook and Twitter.

But as with any project, we’d be nothing without your input – we welcome your comments, suggestions and content for the site. The great thing about this format is that it gives us the freedom to do anything we like! We’re not restricted to a monthly printed magazine, or a TV format – so just tell us what you want to see, and we’ll do our best to oblige.

I’ve been busy running around the country this week meeting with archive professionals and family history societies to test out two new initiatives I’ll be working on over the coming months – education and ancestral tourism. I’ll keep you updated on the progress of these projects, and where to find more information if you want to get involved, over the next few weeks. Another key initiative we need to look at is the balance between greater digitisation of our public records, and the consequences for footfall in regional archives which might result in loss of public service and reduced access. Damage done now could take decades to reverse, especially given the current economic forecast – so we need to support our archives by visiting in person, whilst trying to find ways in which commercial organisations can continue to operate alongside volunteer projects.

I will also try to flag up in advance where I’ll be speaking – so the next date for your diary is the Cambridge Family History Centre on Saturday 19 November, when I’ll be talking about family history and the media. Start time is 1.10pm

Today is the 11th day of the 11th month, in the 11th year of the new century. As always, thoughts turned to the sacrifices made by our armed forces down the years, from the appalling losses of the First World War which was ended 93 years ago by the Armstice, right through to the current servicemen and women risking their lives in faraway places such as Afghanistan. It is right and proper that we commemorate them, and try to provide support for the other 364 days of the year.

Drop us a line via the contacts page – it would be great to hear from you!

Ok, back to my writing; I’m trying to finish a chapter for my book on the history of Greater London. More next week…


News November 2011

Every month, Laura and I will sit down and chat about what is happening in family history and genealogy circles.

  • What is happening at Local and National Archives and Record Offices
  • News of the Latest and Best Lectures and Courses
  • The Latest Digitization Projects
  • New Online Resources
  • Great Genealogy and Local History Days Out
  • News from the Family History Societies
  • And anything else that we may think is of interest to viewers of the Family History Show


We are sorry but the competition to win a copy of The King’s Speech is now closed

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