People are interesting. Every single person who ever lived has a story to tell. When you scratch the surface of any human being you will find a rich range of events that go to make up who that person is: a variety of happy, sad, tragic, celebratory, inspirational and all sorts of emotive happenings that create a unique individual. So when you are finding your ancestors, why be content with just names and dates?
It seems a shame that some people who trace their ancestry are only content to collect a list of names and dates, their driving force to go back as far as possible in time. While I fully understand the satisfaction of going back another generation and finding new names to add to your tree, for me, and many others, it is the mixture of this and also finding out about the history of individuals that provides the full satisfaction and excitement of tracing ancestors.
Those names on your tree were once living, breathing human beings, affected by the times and environment they lived in, and subject to all the feelings and thoughts that we are all subject to. They all had ups and downs in their lives, just like you and me. Wouldn’t it be interesting and exciting to find out what those highs and lows were, and how much you might be able to relate to them?
We may never know exactly how a person reacted to the events that affected them, but we can make an informative guess at how they may have felt, for example, about leaving their home for a new country, the death of a child, or an inheritance from a rich uncle.
Census records, birth, marriage & death certificates, parish registers, wills, military records, trial documents, land records, apprenticeships, and many other documents can help you to piece together some of the important events in your ancestors’ lives.
However, not everyone will find records beyond the census and basic baptism, birth and marriage records. Also, the further back you go, the more difficult it is to find out details about…