Marylebone Library’s Family History Group had its first meeting of 2014 last month, and its first outside Marylebone Library. I travelled just a single stop on the tube from Baker Street to St John’s Wood and walked over to Circus Road, where I was hoping to greet a small group of amateur genealogists for a short family history session.
I felt very privileged in the group I found there. There were more than had previously attended sessions at Marylebone Library and they’d had a range of experiences – from those who had been searching through their ancestry for a great many years to those who had only just started. As with previous sessions I was able to learn a thing or two about the subject myself (there is always more to learn no matter how long you have been doing this!). Everyone talked about these experiences and provided each other with tips on where to start and how to carry on.
We discussed online resources we could use: Ancestry, FindMyPast, online newspaper archives, plus other places we could travel to for more information, eg: the National Archives at Kew, the Guildhall Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (they have a freely available website as well: https://familysearch.org/) and, of course, Westminster Archives.
Once the introductions were over we made a start with Westminster’s most popular online family history resource – Ancestry. I explained how to get to it via the website (the Anywhere.me start page on library computers, and via the 24/7 Library), and informed everyone that it can be accessed throughout all the Westminster libraries and at the Archives Centre. We made good progress learning about advanced searching and narrowing down our results. The most important lesson though had to be: teach yourself through experimenting with these different resources; don’t give up; keep trying, look down different avenues (eg: use different dates, locations, names, spellings!). But don’t forget to keep notes on what you’ve done.
Our next session will take place in St John’s Wood Library on 24 March. We will concentrate on FindMyPast which is a bit of a rarity in public libraries – make the most of it! Please feel free to come along; no charge and no need to book.