Showing posts with label history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label history. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Chartres Cathedral Seen in the Best Light!.....~ A Book Review

While travelling I love to learn all about what I have seen and what really impressed me!  To that end, I found out that there was a  difference between a Maze and a Labyrinth.  It was something that I had never thought of before.  That is until I saw the Labyrinth in the Chartres Cathedral in France. Google defines a maze as " a network of paths and hedges designed as a puzzle. The goal is to find your way out or to a central "prize".

So the difference for all of those like me who have never ever thought about it is, a Maze is a place where tall walls of greenery send you down a path with many different directions in which you can go.  They are made so that  you can get lost in them and take a lot of time to find your way out.  In North America Mazes are a fun aspect to the Halloween holidays.  Corn mazes spring up in the country side just waiting for people to try and find their way out!  It's a lot of fun for people of all ages.

A Labyrinth on the other hand, is also a path that twists and turns but has no sides to make you feel isolated and you can easily see where you should go next.  A labyrinth in the 1200's was a geometric pattern on the floor that was used mainly for meditation.   The idea is to walk the path slowly, meditating on whatever is pressing on your mind, walking the path until you reach the center. At that point you just may have found the solution to whatever it was that was on your mind.  

Today,  Mazes and Labyrinths mean pretty much the same thing.  
https://amzn.to/4ew6SzA





This past spring My other half and I made a trip to Portugal, Spain and France.  We are particularly interested in old churches, the art, architecture, artistry and history of the churches.  

Chartres Cathedral was amazing but when you are on a tour, your time in that place is limited.  So what do you do?  You take lots of pictures, hoping to capture the beauty, the space, the art and statues, stained glass windows, doors and floors and so much more.  

After you come home you realize that your pictures just don't do justice to the beauty that filled you with awe!  So you go looking for something that will help you to remember the beauty.

https://amzn.to/4ew6SzA


The Hubby found a most beautiful book with pictures that really do make you re-live the time you were there.  When you consider that this church was built in 1260, it certainly has aged well and the history within it's walls is truly amazing.  

I love books that will tell me all about how it was built, Who commissioned it and how long it took to complete and all the history that happened since the time it was built.  
https://amzn.to/4ew6SzA



This book is the finishing touch to a trip that had us both spellbound and wondering how on earth the workers could build something so beautiful, mathematically precise and long lasting without all the tools that modern day builders have today.  It truly is mind boggling.



https://amzn.to/4ew6SzA
When you travel and enjoy the sights, sometime a great book is the best gift you give yourself to remember the beauty that you had a chance to see up close and personal. Usually the pictures in these books are also clearer.  The day you visit might be rainy or windy making your pictures less than perfect.  With a well done book, everything that is pictured was taken at the right time and conditions.    Now you can revisit whenever you want and share the beauty with your friends too.  Chartres Cathedral is a place that you should put on your bucket list.  We continue to enjoy it even after the suitcases are put away.

The pictures shown in this review are taken from the book which we continue to enjoy.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Thursday, May 30, 2024

The World of Play-Doh

The World of Play-Doh

WHAT IS PLAY-DOH?


Play-Doh is a non-toxic modeling material for young children, for older children and, of course, for the young at heart. It is made from a blend of wheat flour, water, salt, boric acid, and mineral oil. Join me here as I review a bit of the history of the iconic play compound.

A BRIEF HISTORY


Play-Doh was first made as a wallpaper cleaner in the United States in the 1930s and became a children’s product in the 1950s when it appeared at an educational convention and was eventually used in schools. Initially the department store Woodward and Lothrop took on the product but when Macy’s and Marshall Field’s saw how popular the modelling compound was, they also took it on. Play-Doh did not have money for advertising so, in what turned out to be a stroke of genius, they arranged for Captain Kangaroo, the then massively popular children’s show, to use it on air once a week. The rest is, as they say, history.

THE COMPANY'S HISTORY, A VIDEO


The Accidental Birth of Play-Doh: Uncover the complete company history via interesting, 10-minute long YouTube video:


CONTINUED POPULARITY


Play-Doh has continued to be popular in the decades that followed and is now available in an endless array of sets that include everything from cans of dough to items like the perennially popular Fun Factory to pop culture themes of the day like Star Wars and Disney. The product made the Toy Industry’s Association Century of Toys List in 2003.

SKILL DEVELOPMENT


Play-Doh is a wonderful product for developing children’s skills. Fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination are enhanced with all of the pushing, squishing, squeezing, and pinching that is required to play with the product. Literacy and numeracy are promoted when a child creates shapes and numbers and acts out stories. Calm and focus are a natural result of this quiet activity that also supports creativity, imagination, playtime and social skills. Whether a child has a few colors of the modeling material or many colors, the options are endless.

TODAY


According to the video shown above, Play-Doh is available in over 80 countries today and the current owner, Hasbro, produces over 500 million cans of the modeling compound each year.

Is there a can of Play-Doh in your future?



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Sunday, April 7, 2024

The Mystical Connections to a Solar Eclipse - History Meets the Unseen

The Mystical Connections to a Solar Eclipse - History Meets the Unseen

Solar eclipses have long captivated human imagination, evoking a sense of wonder and mystery. 

Across various cultures and civilizations, these celestial events have been interpreted in diverse and intriguing ways, often imbued with spiritual significance and mystical beliefs.

This blog post will explore the mystical connections to solar eclipses, delving into the fascinating beliefs and interpretations from different cultures worldwide.

Ancient Mesopotamia and Babylonian Beliefs: 

In ancient Mesopotamia and Babylon, solar eclipses were viewed as omens, often associated with the anger or displeasure of the gods. Priests and astrologers meticulously recorded these celestial phenomena, believing them to foretell significant events such as wars, the rise or fall of empires, and natural disasters. Eclipses were seen as powerful messages from the divine, prompting rituals and offerings to appease the gods and restore balance.

Ancient Chinese Traditions: 

In ancient Chinese culture, solar eclipses were interpreted as the result of a celestial dragon devouring the sun. To ward off the dragon and ensure the return of sunlight, people engaged in various rituals, including banging drums, making loud noises, and shooting arrows into the sky. The belief was that these actions would frighten the dragon away, allowing the sun to emerge again. Solar eclipses were also seen as harbingers of doom and were associated with the downfall of rulers or dynasties.

Indigenous Peoples' Spiritual Connections: 

Indigenous cultures worldwide have unique interpretations of solar eclipses, often rooted in spiritual traditions and connections to nature. For many indigenous peoples, eclipses are seen as moments of spiritual renewal and introspection, symbolizing the cyclical nature of existence and the interconnectedness of all living beings. Rituals and ceremonies honor the celestial event and harness its energy for healing, growth, and transformation.

Hindu Mythology and Symbolism: 

In Hindu mythology, the solar eclipse is depicted as the result of the demon Rahu swallowing the sun and later releasing it. This mythological narrative symbolizes the eternal struggle between light and darkness, good and evil. Solar eclipses are viewed as auspicious times for spiritual practices such as meditation, prayer, and charity, offering inner purification and enlightenment opportunities. Temples may also conduct special ceremonies to invoke divine blessings and protection during this celestial event.

Contemporary Perspectives and Approaches:

While ancient cultures viewed solar eclipses through a lens of mysticism and mythology, contemporary society approaches these phenomena with a blend of scientific understanding and awe-inspiring wonder. 

Advancements in astronomy and technology allow us to predict and observe eclipses with remarkable precision, unraveling the mechanics of these cosmic events. Yet, even in our modern age, solar eclipses continue to evoke a sense of awe and reverence, reminding us of the enduring mysteries of the universe and our place within it.

Solar eclipses bridge the tangible world we inhabit and the vast mysteries of the cosmos. Across cultures and civilizations, these celestial phenomena have inspired awe, wonder, and spiritual contemplation. 

Whether interpreted as omens, symbols of renewal, or manifestations of cosmic forces, solar eclipses remind us of the profound interconnectedness of all things and the enduring quest to comprehend the mysteries of existence. 

As we safely gaze up at the darkened sun during an eclipse, we are reminded of our place in the vast tapestry of the universe, where science and spirituality converge in a dance of exploration and wonder.

Safety Glasses For Viewing the Eclipse:

ISO 12312-2 Certification: Look for glasses that meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard for filters for direct observation of the sun. This certification ensures the glasses have been tested and meet the required safety standards for viewing the sun.

Eclipse Glasses Available on Amazon




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Team Spirit: Roots Canada Book Review

Team Spirit: A Field Guide to Roots Canada takes a peek into Roots Canada and founders Michael Budman and Don Green and how they built a wildly successful business.

Detroit natives Michael Budman and Don Green became Canadian sensations when they opened the first Roots store in Toronto in 1973 and had a stroke of luck (or was it genius) in the form of the negative heel shoe.

Because they had spent summers at a camp in Ontario’s magnificent Algonquin Park, they decided to use a beaver and other Canadian references in their business. Their story, therefore, is about Canada and Canadian culture. That is, camp culture and wilderness culture. Those themes helped Budman and Green build an empire that today includes fashion and so much more.

Written by Geoff Pevere, this Team Spirit takes a peek into the lives of these two men and how they built a business based on “integrity and quality.” It shares information about the celebrities from the worlds of music, film, fashion, art, literature and sports and it shares how they built a business promoting “Canadian culture to Canadians” that is now worth more than $121 million dollars and recognized around the world.

Published on October 20, 1998 by Doubleday Canada, it contains 152 pages of text and pictures. The Toronto Sun said, "Without question, this is the funniest book of the year and the last word on Canadian pop culture."

Quill & Quire said, the book tells “the story of Roots, the company that brought funny shoes, branded sweatshirts, and doofy Olympic hats to millions of Canadians.” However, they go on to say, “It’s full of wordy, pretentious fawning, and it’s tough to sit through.

The charming origin story has been told over and over again so a book about how they actually built their business would have been welcome. This one does not do that. Nor does it tell their story from a biographical view point. Instead, it shares, according to Quill & Quire, “little pieces of the Roots story.” That seems fair.

CBRA Online says that the Roots story in this book “gets to be a bit much, especially when Roots’ essentially capitalistic nature and purpose is kept in mind.” They are, after all, a business that wanted to and does make money, lots of money. Like Quill & Quire, CBRA reminds us that this is not a business history nor a biography. They elaborate by saying, “It is a colorful, impressively illustrated presentation of Roots products in various settings accompanied by a pop culture text …that does not do justice to the subject.

Reviewers seem to agree that this book is perhaps more of a coffee table book than it might have been. It is light with text and it is heavy with photographs of celebrities.

If you love Roots products and you want to read more about the back story of Roots Canada Ltd., Team Spirit will share that with you. Just don’t expect it to be really deep. It will do a better job of giving you a look back through the world of Roots and the celebrities associated with it during the last 50 years. Note that the book is out of print but that Team Spirit: A Field Guide To Roots Culture can still be found on Amazon by clicking here

A reminder that this book was published in 1998, which means that it is no longer up to date. There has been at least one very significant change to the company since then. In 2015, the majority interest in the company was sold to Searchlight Capital LP though the founders continue to hold a small interest.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda

MORE READING:


Roots items in my eBay store.

Roots Canada Leather Products.

The Roots Canada Story: A Brief History.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Thursday, May 25, 2023

Book Review - Lost Roses

 

roses
AI Image
In this exciting prequel to Martha Hall Kelly's best-selling Lilac Girls, we follow the lives of Eliza (Caroline Ferriday's mother) and her two friends from Russia-Sofya and Luba Streshnayva.  Sofya and Luba are cousins of Tsar Nicholas II and although all three women have grown up in privilege, they all have a strong desire to help others.

Background

Like Caroline Ferriday from Lilac Girls the characters in Lost Roses are real people from history.  Martha Hall Kelly did meticulous research to make sure her facts were correct and then built a wonderful work of historical fiction around events from history.  This second book in the Lilac Girls series takes place in 1914 in the days leading up to and during the Bolshevik Revolution.



Plot Summary

The book begins as Eliza Ferriday from New York City is going to visit her good friend Sofya in St. Petersburg, Russia.  They had met years before in Paris and become good friends.  Even though it is 1914 and the world would seem to be on the brink of war, Eliza is excited for her trip and a visit with her good friend.  She arrives safely and all seems to be going well till there is word that they must flee the city because of the revolutionaries are nearby and are trying to overturn all the wealthy ruling class.  Eliza sails home to New York and Sofya and her family escape to their summer home in the countryside.

While they are in their summer home they hire a local fortuneteller's daughter, Varinka, to work in their household.  This turns out to be a very bad decision. As time goes on the revolutionaries kidnap the family and keep them captive in an outbuilding of the family's luxurious summer home.  The storyline continues and keeps us on edge as we wonder how the family will survive and will they escape to Paris as they hope.

As the story continues, we see the ways both Eliza and Sofya work in these troubled times to help those in need.

I found this book to be very interesting.  Martha Hall Kelly has a way of making her characters come to life and I found myself reading into the night to find out what would happen next.

Book One of the Series

The first book in the series, actually chronologically comes after Lost Roses.  It is set in a World War II time frame and features Eliza's daughter Caroline.  It too was a very compelling story that I had a hard time putting down.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Thursday, April 14, 2022

Visit Missouri - First Capitol

 

Missouri's first capitol
Missouri's First Capitol

The first Missouri capitol was in St. Charles.  Although we have lived very near for nearly 20 years, I had never been on a tour of this first capitol until recently. I was on an outing with a group that I serve as a photography mentor and our outing included a tour of the first capitol.  The outside of the building does  not look very exciting so I wasn't sure what to expect and I was very pleasantly surprised.

History of First Capitol


Missouri was granted statehood on August 10, 1821.  Before that time various locations in St. Louis had served as the place where decisions were made for the territory.  Once it looked like statehood would become a reality a search went on to find a permanent seat of government.  A location was picked in the center of the state overlooking the Missouri river.  This new location was called "The City of Jefferson" and today we call it Jefferson City.

While construction of the new capitol was taking place the first legislator needed a place to meet.  Nine different cities were competing for the honor.  One of these cities, St. Charles, pledged free meeting space for the temporary capitol.  St. Charles was located on the Missouri river and had great access to areas throughout the state by either the river or the Boonslick Road.  The first Govenor Alexander McNair signed a bill making St. Charles the first capitol of Missouri.  The legislator met in St. Charles for the first time in June of 1821.   At that time the heated discussions of the legislature centered around slavery and state's rights.

House of Representatives in Missouri's first capitol
House of Representatives

Senate in Missouri's first capitol
Senate

Tour of First Capitol


The first legislator met on the second floor of the two newly constructed adjoining buildings.  The first floor was occupied by a general store and a carpentry shop. In the photos above you can see what the senate and the house of representatives looked like.

Our tour guide gave us some fascinating insight into what the meetings would have been like back in the early 1800's.   In the photos above you see what each of the meeting rooms looked like. The senators each had tables they could use but the representatives sat on benches.  Our tour guide showed us the "Laptops" like what they would have used to in order to take their notes.  Here is a photo I took of the laptop.

style of laptop in Missouri's first capitol


It would have been like a mini desk, with compartments to hold the writing instrument, the ink and other essentials.  They could hold it on their laps to use instead of a desk.

After seeing the legislators we went to the next room upstairs which was the govenors office.
Here is a photo of that office.

Governor's office in Missouri's first capitol
Governor's Office


Four Missouri governors were in office during the time the capitol was in St. Charles.  The new capitol was ready in 1826.

Downstairs Stores and Home


The tour also included a look at a reconstructed Dry Goods store.  It included items that would have been in that type of store during the early 1800's.  Here is a photo I took in the store.

replica of a store in the 1800's


Sources for this Review


My sources for this review are the information provided for us by our docent, Mike.  He was an excellent tour guide and provided some very interesting information on what life was like during the early years of Missouri statehood.

I also used information I read on a pamphlet I picked up during the tour.  The information was published by Missouri Department of Natural Resources.  Their website is www.mostateparks.com.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Sunday, December 12, 2021

Heidi Bowl Football Game

Heidi Bowl Football Game
The Heidi Bowl Football Game Reviewed
Photo Credit Getty Images

Some of you may remember The Heidi Bowl very well, and many others may have never heard of it or are just too young to know. If you are one of the others and don’t know what I’m talking about, let me explain.

 

November 17th, 1968, at 4:00 pm Eastern Standard Time the Oakland Raiders vs. the New York Jets football game aired on NBC. The game was played in Oakland California; these two teams were fierce rivals, quarterback Joe Namath vs. Oakland’s Daryl Lamonica.

 

We followed Joe Namath as he played high school football only 15 miles from where I grew up. I remember this game very well, as I was watching this game with my father and uncles.

 

The NBC executives had originally ordered the television movie Heidi to air at 7:00 PM.

Because of the high-scoring game and excessive injuries and penalties, the game ran late and ended at 7:07 pm. When the fourth quarter started at 6:20 pm the NBC executives knew it was not going to end on time.

 

They decided to keep the game on until the end. They began to call the network technicians to communicate their decision but could not get through.

 

As the time got closer to 7:00 pm. sports fans began calling the network to see if the game was going to remain on.

 

This overloaded the network's lines causing the lines to go down, thus the NBC executives could not communicate their decision. So, at 7:00 pm the game was cut off on the East Coast for the movie Heidi.

 

This caused viewers and sports fans on the East Coast to miss one of the most dramatic endings in football history. The Oakland Raiders scored two touchdowns in the final minute of the game to win 43 to 32. I can still remember when they flashed the final score at the bottom of the screen during Heidi. My dad and uncles were furious.

 

The game will forever be known as the Heidi Bowl and prompted the NFL and the networks to agree upon airing all games in their entirety. Now you know why your regular programs are delayed on Sunday if a game runs over.


The Jets and Raiders met again in December with the Jets winning 27-23 to win the American Football League Championship. Two weeks later the New York Jets defeated the highly favored Baltimore Colts of the Nation Football League in Super Bowl III.


I hope you enjoyed this bit of sports history. 


This was the year that the New York Jets made football history


Beyond Broadway Joe: The Super Bowl TEAM That Changed FootballBeyond Broadway Joe: The Super Bowl TEAM That Changed FootballBeyond Broadway Joe: The Super Bowl TEAM That Changed Football

 




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving from Review This Reviews

 

pumpkin sitting on a tree trunk photo by mbgphoto
Happy Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the USA.  From the Staff of Review This Reviews we wish you a very Happy and Thankful Day.

Thanksgiving Day History

On this Thanksgiving Day, I thought I would share a few history facts for your enjoyment.  If you'd like you could use these to share or quiz family and friends as you gather for the holiday.  They could make great conversation starters too.   My reference for this information is history.com.  
  • It is commonly thought that 1621 was the year of the first Thanksgiving in America.  During the fall of this year the Colonists and the Wampanoag Indians shared a feast to celebrate the harvest.
  • The first Thanksgiving was not just one day but was a three-day festival.
  • The most likely menu for this feast was deer, Indian corn, fowl, barley and nuts, lobster and mussels.
  • This first feast did not become an annual tradition for centuries later.
  • In 1789 George Washington declared a national holiday for Thanksgiving and it was celebrated that year on Thursday, November 26th.  But still it did not become an annual holiday nationwide.
  • In 1827 Sarah Josephia Hale (she is an author best known for the writing the nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb") started a 30-year campaign to make Thanksgiving an annual holiday.  She even published recipe cards for Turkey, Stuffing, and Pumpkin Pie.

  • Finally in 1863 during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving to be held each year in November.

Thanksgiving Traditions Today

Menu

Today the most common Thanksgiving menus include:
  • Turkey
  • Dressing
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Pumpkin Pie
After these staples that are common to most American households each family adds their own touch to the Thanksgiving feast.  In our family we add green bean casserole, hot rolls, and a sweet potato dish with a sweet topping.

Parades

Another tradition in America is the Thanksgiving Parade.  For those that don't go to a parade they may watch the big Thanksgiving Day parade from New York City on television.

Volunteering

Volunteerism is big on Thanksgiving too.  Communities collect food for the needy and serve hot meals for those less fortunate.

Pardoning a Turkey

In 1989 President Bush came up with a new quirky tradition of pardoning a turkey.  This tradition has carried on with each President since that time.  This is a fun tradition that is seen on the "news" each year.  The turkey will then be able to live out its life on a farm.

Fall Harvest photo by mbgphoto
Fall Harvest

As you and your family celebrate the holiday may you take time out to remember to be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Story of Walt Disney World Book Review

The Story of Walt Disney World: A book review of the 1971 souvenir book, which features pictures, information and illustrations of the park when it first opened.

Walt Disney World enthusiasts are always wanting to learn more about one of the world's most famous destinations.  This book, The Story of Walt Disney World, is a big square paperback book with 50 pages of information, lots of photographs and even a few colorful illustrations from the park. The first page has the date of October 25, 1971. I believe it was probably released as a souvenir to celebrate the opening of the theme park, which occurred on October 1, 1971.

The first page includes a dedication taken from the plaque in Town Square on Main Street at Walt Disney World by Roy Disney O. Disney that reads, "Walt Disney World is a tribute to the philosophy and life of Walter Elias Disney...and to the talents, the dedication and the loyalty of the entire Disney organization that made Walt Disney's dream come true. May Walt Disney World bring Joy and Inspiration and New Knowledge to all who come to this happy place...a Magic Kingdom where the young at heart of all ages can laugh and play and learn together."  If you have experienced the park, you know that Disney delivered on those promises. Millions and millions of people have visited, enjoyed and created many fond memories of time spent at the park. 

This vintage book offers a look at what the park offered and looked like when it first opened and even includes a map from the year 1971. A lot has changed since then! 

The Story of Walt Disney World would make a wonderful gift idea for those who have fond memories of visiting the park in the past or for those who are interested in the history of the park. You will find The Story of Walt Disney World on eBay by clicking right here.

See you
on eBay!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

More Disney:

Grab a sketch-themed 20th Anniversary Toy Story coffee mug.

The Story of Walt Disney World: Discover things about the park when it was first opened!




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Tracing Your Family Tree - Reviewing Some Genealogy Adventures

 Adventures in Genealogy - Discovering Your Roots

As Alice fell down the rabbit hole and discovered the secrets of Wonderland so a Genealogist can discover a wealth of addictive history while climbing along branches of the family tree.   My first adventures in genealogy began quite innocently enough and I couldn’t have predicted that it would stay with me for my entire life.


Alice Beatrice Gale - a sepia photograph of my great grandmother


I sometimes watch the television program – Who Do You Think You Are – where celebrities trace their family tree and it saddens me to think that some people don’t even know the names of all of their grandparents let alone further back.   I think knowing your roots helps in making you feel confident in yourself – it means you don’t feel alone because you know you have a family that goes back and out and you’re just a little twig on this solid oak tree!

My first ‘adventure’ as I referred to it before started in school where I was asked to make a family tree which I should just mention earned me an A (not that I’m bragging or anything!).   We were told to add ourselves, our siblings, our parents, their siblings and our grandparents and anything else we were able to.

The pretentious young girl that I was I made sure to add all of my grandparents’ siblings as well as the names of my great grandparents and while I was finding this out I made an amazing discovery – one of my great aunts had a marriage certificate that belonged to my great great grandparents.   I wasn’t allowed to take the original to school, but my dad let me get a photocopy to take in – I don’t know why this didn’t earn me an A+, but still!

All the photographs on this post are from the author's family and are used with permission - information on the people in them can be found at the bottom of the post.

 How to Start Researching Your Family Tree

Am I Descended from Royalty or is There a Criminal Mastermind in My Tree?

People want to trace their roots for a variety of reasons, years ago people would claim that their family were aristocrats – you just had to go back a while!   These days more and more people want to discover criminals in their backgrounds!   Whatever drives you to discover the people you’re descended from you have to start somewhere so where?

The first place to start is with the living – talk to your relatives, your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and find as much information as you can from them.   You might find that some aren’t very helpful and that’s often because of skeletons in the family closet and with older relatives, this was often to do with birth dates and marriage dates not quite gelling or ‘sisters’ turning out to be daughters!

When I was looking into my maternal grandfather’s family mum suggested I contact her godmother who was also her cousin (we were living in New Zealand at the time and our family were from the UK).   I was lucky enough that my grandfather’s sister was staying with her at the time and wrote to me herself.   I had never met any of my grandfather’s family as my Nan fell out with them after his death (when I was 6) so it was great to ‘discover’ a great aunt and I still have her letters today.

I had only asked a few questions, but she had not only supplied that information but more besides including a family mystery and a scandal and the most important piece of information - my great grandfather's name wasn't what I had recorded!   I had been looking for Richard Butcher, but he was actually christened Arthur Richard Butcher, he'd just used the name Richard since he'd become an adult.  

What to Ask Your Relatives?

The basic questions to start with are their first names and date & place of birth – if they’re married ask for their spouse’s names and the details of their marriage along with details of any of their children.
Next, ask for their parent's details along with any of their parent’s siblings – move on to their grandparents after that.

It doesn’t matter if you already have details from other family members as it can either help confirm the information or show a discrepancy – both of which can be very helpful.   You can also discover different stories AND you never know who the family secret keeper is.

There is always someone in the family (it seems) who remembers all the skeletons, hoards all of the photos and sometimes even possesses the family bible or other papers which are all great things to see (if not own) as a family historian.     This person is the family secret keeper and did I mention you’re now a historian?

It's the little family stories that we hear that add the foliage to our family trees.

Don’t be in a rush as you’re talking to your living relatives either as it’s amazing the little pieces of information that they may tell you about which help you to breathe life into the photos and/or names on your family tree.

I remember a few years ago I looked at how my family tree was progressing and I felt a little dissatisfied as they were just names on paper, I didn’t know anything about them.   I decided then that I would ask my parents questions about what hobbies their parents and grandparents had, did they have any idiosyncrasies about them etc.   I just wanted to build up some sort of an idea about who they were and a few of the stories that I’ve been told have really helped bring my tree to life.

Family stories also sometimes have a little grain of truth in them (after all the tales had to come from somewhere) and when you hit a brick wall you can try throwing out some of the information – I used a name that some branches of the family used with our surname and some had dropped that apparently had something to do with grandma (it hadn’t!) and also a tea plantation that the family owned.   Well I had hit a brick wall so I did a broad search for our surname with the other surname and I found a marriage between what would turn out to be two great grandparents – I don’t think a train driver owned a tea plantation though, but it was a help nonetheless.

 

Alice & Eli Read with children Edward, Lona & William - my great grandparents, grandfather and a great aunt and great uncle - genealogy through photos
Eli & Alice Read with children Edward, Lona & William

 Birth, Death & Marriage Certificates

Getting More Information on Your Ancestors

When I was first setting out on my genealogy adventures the advice was to get birth, marriage and death certificates on everyone and they’re definitely full of invaluable information.   Unfortunately this does get expensive which is where the internet has been invaluable in both providing free information on births, marriage and death (bmd) records and also in helping you get in touch with other people who are researching your family.

I’ve been able to share certificates & research with people around the world and we’ve all benefited by filling in different parts of our histories.

Now, what information is found on these certificates?   Certificates look different in different countries and can also show different bits of information.

Birth Certificates will show both parents’ names as well as the full name and date of birth of the family member in question.   Birth certificates can also show the father's occupation as you can see on the certificate below of one of my great grandmothers.

UK Birth Certificate of Lily Maud Mary DEAN my great grandmother
Birth Certificate of Lily Mary Maud DEAN


As with all the certificates different countries will supply different information for example on the New Zealand birth certificate that I have for one of my husband's relatives it shows not just the father's details but the mothers' names and maiden names as well.   I think that New Zealand certificates were designed by a genealogist myself!

Marriage Certificates show the names of the bride and groom as well as their fathers (and of course details of the marriage).   Other information shown can differ from country to country.   I've enclosed the marriage certificate that ignited the genealogy bug in me way back in the 80s for you to look at.

This certificate is too long for me to scan fully (a problem with a number of UK certificates), but I hope you like it anyway.   The date of the marriage was 31st Jan 1877 and as a schoolchild trying to wrap my head around the fact that it was only a little over 100 years beforehand and my great grandparents couldn't write was just mindblowing!

1877 UK Marriage Certificate between Robert Gale and Martha Parsons my great great grandparents
Marriage Certificate of Robert GALE & Martha PARSONS

When it comes to death certificates, most of the ones in my genealogy files are from the UK which shows the date of death, name of deceased, sex, age, occupation and cause of death.   I'm going to show you a scan of my husband's grandmother's death certificate here instead though because it's a New Zealand death certificate.

Like the marriage certificate, the New Zealand death certificate also has a wealth of information contained on it and really is a treasure trove for people tracing their family tree.

NZ Death Certificate - Clara Emily COX nee PEASE
Death Certificate for Clara Emily COX nee PEASE


This certificate can hold a lot of information and I love that surviving issue is included as it's not always easy to find all of the birth records when you don't know how many children a couple has had together.   Another part that is very handy for a country that's based so much on immigration is the question - how long in New Zealand.

The thing with death certificates, however, is that the information is only as good as the surviving family members know and as you can see her mother's maiden name obviously wasn't remembered (or known) by her family which is a shame.

Free Alternatives to Getting 'Official' Certificates

One site that I have used in the past is called FreeBMD and is great for finding UK ancestors.   It’s not a complete site but they use volunteers to transcribe records of births, deaths & marriages from 1837 throughout England and Wales.

http://freebmd.org.uk/

The drawback is that you don’t get the extra information, but it’s still very handy.   I knew the names of two of my great grandparents and by using freebmd I was able to find when they were married and in which district which meant I could send away for their actual marriage certificate.    This was incredibly helpful as I had no idea when they were married.


Parish Records are another way of finding out information and if you’re researching for family in the UK then some counties have an Online Parish Clerk which is fantastic.   Different counties have different resources available online and some of the clerks will actually do a little digging for you if a census (for example) hasn’t been fully transcribed at the time.   Of course, these positions are voluntary and every clerk is different with different work loads etc.

I’ve used the Dorset OPC site and found it really great, other OPC sites haven’t had the information I’ve wanted for different family members, but I have only viewed a few of them so the best thing you can do is to Google county (the one where your ancestors are from) online parish clerk or opc and you’ll find the right page for you.   Be sure to check the counties on either side if you don’t find the information you need in the county you thought they were in.   A couple of different family lines of mine popped into neighboring counties for a few years here and there!

Arthur Richard BUTCHER & his daughters - adding faces to the family tree
Arthur BUTCHER & daughters

Census Records - A Family Historian's Goldmine

Material a Genealogist Can Get Their Teeth Into!

As well as parish records you can look at a lot of census records for free – UK census records anyway.   I use a site called FreeCen for a lot of my research – they’re run by the same people who provide us with FreeBMD that I’ve mentioned before.


For my Dorset relatives, I don’t have as much luck with the site however and I tend to go to the Dorset OPC as they have some of the early census returns transcribed so be sure to use both resources.

It can be incredibly handy to trace the family using several resources and the census is great for this, it even helped us to take our family tree up a few more branches on one line.   The moral to the story is to take note of all members of the household listed as if one disappears you can search for their name and you might discover them staying with other relatives – it happened on one of my adventures which I talk about under the 'putting the family tree together' section.

Army Records

Another Way of Tracing Your Family

If you have an ancestor who was in the army then I would recommend you get their army records as they can have some great information in them.   It seems as though every regiment holds different information - in the case of one of my grandfathers I received about 5 pages worth from his regiment, but with my husband's great grandfather we only received a single page.

Both regiments provided the age of the soldier when they joined up (be aware that at certain times in the past this was lied about and not always checked by officials!), where they joined up to (this can be handy if you want to know where they were living at the time) and their occupations at the time.

The records will also usually show identifying marks on the body such as scars and the fact that great grandfather had a tattoo before he joined the army!   The records also show where they were stationed - one of the regiments had very little on his actual duties except the place where his regiment was stationed for the time he was in there.

Another regiment's records had a lot more information, including how much time of service was spent abroad, what battles he participated in and medals awarded.

Let me tell you how using army records gave me the first break in tracing one part of the family tree ......

Putting the Family Tree Together

Being a Family Detective

My daughter doesn’t know why I like history, but I think of it as being a little bit like a detective which appeals to her a lot more.   When you’re researching the family history it really is like being a detective as no one (unless you’re extremely lucky) has written a number of books on your family for you to use as research tools.   Instead, you have to look at things like certificates, census returns and other records.

Let me tell you about how we tracked our family back a couple of generations by using free records.

My husband’s great grandfather had served in the army, but we had no idea what part of England he had originated from (we just knew he ended up with his family in New Zealand).   He was buried in a returned services cemetery and his regiment was listed on his grave so I wrote them an email and got his records sent to me.  

On his records, it included where he enlisted to along with his age and trade.   He joined the army in 1904 so I took a chance that he’d be living in the same area in 1901 and looked at the census and there I saw him living with his widowed mother and some siblings.   Looking at the census for 1891 I found both of his parents, himself and some siblings – one sibling was missing so I searched for him as well.   I wasn’t really expecting to find him, but I did and he was listed as a grandson which gave me the (possible) maiden name of great-great-grandma.   Armed with this information I then looked for a marriage using the ‘new’ name in the family tree and there it was!

Another generation discovered and another name to add to a branch of the family – always remember to keep track of siblings along the way.

Other reasons for keeping track of a sibling’s name is to make it quicker to find the family on census returns, let me give you an example.   On one side of the family, my direct descendant is called Richard a fairly common first name, but he had a brother called Twentyman which isn’t so common so if I were to search for census returns I’d look for his brother’s name first to find the household and hope they were both at home together on census night!

More on Military Records in Genealogy

  • USA Military Records
    Now I haven't used this site as I don't have any ancestors in the US (that I've found yet anyways!), but this site is part of the National Archives and tells you how to go about researching your genealogy in military records.
  • British Armed Forces Records
    If you have relatives that served in the British Armed Forces then this is one site to start looking on. I actually just Googled the regiment when I was looking for records and my father got the other records so I'm not sure how good this site is, but it's at least a stepping stone.

Peder (Peter) Christian HANSEN - an old grainy photo of a great great grandfather born in Denmark 1829in
Peder (Peter) Christian HANSEN


Eek! I've Got the Wrong Surname!

Adventures in Genealogy Sometimes Have Unexpected Twists

Genealogy 101 says you need certificates and this makes it quite an expensive hobby, I have often bypassed the certificates and used parish records, census records and other free online resources to trace the family tree, but occasionally that can backfire!

I had been tracing my husband’s paternal line and I couldn’t find his grandfather’s birth details anywhere – apparently, he was born in India, but I couldn't find any birth details of anyone by his name at all.   Luckily my husband’s great-granddad lived with his family for a while and was buried in the cemetery in his hometown.   He had been in the army so I took the name of his regiment from his gravestone and wrote to them – army records can be an invaluable source of information for family historians.   What I found in these records enabled me to trace his family back a couple of generations, but I still couldn’t find granddad even with the dates that great-granddad was serving in India to go on.

I hadn’t looked at this side of the family for a while and decided to do another search for him along with another surname which I know had something to do with the family – it wasn’t further up the line as far as I’d gone, so maybe it was great grandma’s name.   Hello, I found the marriage – they were married in India a month after he left the army, but the timing of the marriage didn’t gel with when my husband’s grandparents were married (grandad would've been too young) – things were getting murky.

Looking at the details of the marriage it noted that great-grandmother was older than great-grandfather and also a widow.   Just for the heck of it, I decided to search for grandad using her former married name and there he was – turns out the great-grandad that lived with the family and who everyone loved (grandad wasn’t let in the house – long story) was actually step great grandad so the family tree I’d been tracing didn’t actually belong to the right family :(

Now what was I told was genealogy 101?   That’s right – get certificates!

Sepia photograph of Edward Arthur Read my grandfather
Edward Arthur READ

Genealogical Links

Great Links to Help You Trace Your Family Tree

This free family search website is really good and I've recently had a lot of luck with their Indian data (this has obviously been updated since I last looked for this branch of the family).

  • Access Genealogy - Great for US Genealogy
  • If you're tracing family in the States this looks like a great site. I don't have any family lines in America, but I like the look of this site and I especially like the cemetery transcriptions - they are really handy.

  • Find My Past
  • This is a site that I have used in the past even though you do have to pay, I found quite a few records on one side of my family which made it worthwhile for me. There is also an American site available too which has a good reputation.

    Photographic Stars - Names & Dates

    Historic Photos From My Family Tree

    I hope you've enjoyed the family photos I've included in this article, but what if you think some of them look familiar or you just recognize a name?   Well if that's the case here's information on them and if you think there may be a family connection feel free to send a private message to me via Facebook.

    Introduction Image

    The image in the introduction is of Alice Beatrice GALE born 11 Oct 1884 at Loders, Dorset, England.   Alice was one of my great-grandmothers.

    Eli & Alice READ with children Edward, Lona & William

    This image is of Eli Reuben READ born 01 Jan 1879 at East Coker, Yeovil, Somerset, England along with his wife Alice (the same lady mentioned above) who were married on 14 Jan 1904.   They had eight children and are pictured with three of them from left to right they are - Edward Arthur READ (born 07 Sep 1907), Lona Frances Emily READ (born 21 Jul 1904) and William George READ (born 18 Dec 1905 ).

    Arthur BUTCHER and daughters

    This image is of Arthur Richard BUTCHER born 30 Nov 1873 at Caterham, Surrey.  He was one of my great grandfathers and is pictured with his daughters at a wedding.   The daughters are from left to right - Queenie Etta (born 19 Sep 1918), Constance Christina Winifred (born 17 Sep 1914), Mabel Beatrice (born 11 Feb 1898) , Eirene Hilda Dorothy (born 19 Sep 1899), May COMPTON (half sister) Gladys Kathleen (born 23 Apr 1906), Gwendoline Dorcas Joyce (born 27 Apr 1916)

    Peder (Peter) Christian HANSEN

    This image is of Peder (Peter) Christian HANSEN who was born 3 Dec 1829 at Tommerup, Funen Island, Denmark.   He was one of my husband's great-great-grandfathers and emigrated to New Zealand in 1874.

    Edward Arthur READ

    This image is of Edward Arthur READ (the same person in the photo with his parents Eli and Alice) who was born 7 Sep 1907 at Loders, Dorset, England.   Edward was one of my grandfathers although I never got to meet him as he died before I was born.

    I think photographs really help bring your family tree alive, but unfortunately, some of them can be in disrepair.  I've come across ones that have been ripped, covered in age spots and more.   I did write a post about removing blemishes in photoshop if you have some old photos that do not look their best.

    Are you interested in tracing your family tree?








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