Family history and Hammersmith Library

Ancestry Library Edition logo

Ancestry Library Edition logo

On Tuesday the 19th of January I was joined by a very of enthusiastic group of genealogists. They wanted to delve further into their family’s pasts and I was just as determined to show them how they could do so using both Hammersmith and Fulham’s subscription to Ancestry and other resources including Familysearch.org

Normally one would have to pay for the privilege of using Ancestry but Hammersmith and Fulham’s subscription has meant access is free from any library computer within the borough. From each computer in each library there is a shortcut on the desktop which takes you straight to the site from where you can begin searching for specific people or a whole family. You can start by searching through a particular resource such as the 1911 Census or search through all the resources/type of resources all at once. You can then edit your search making the results more and more relevant using dates, names, locations and the “sliders” in the search box.

We saw just how many records which could be found on the Ancestry Database and how they could be recorded/saved and printed. Some of the originals were hard to read due to the handwriting.

Ancestry home page - this resource is available on library computers in Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, and Westminster

Ancestry home page – this resource is available on library computers in Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, and Westminster

Those who came along were not only from England but from other countries around the British Isles including Ireland and Scotland. One of the researchers had family from the Middle East as well. We found that the further one went from the US (Ancestry’s main source of information) the less there was available. The UK still had a lot but Ireland had less still and the Middle East little or none unfortunately. We did look around and found there were nevertheless items of interest either by specifying particular locations or even looking into the family histories of historic figures and celebrities.

Finally we also looked at what else could be out there that we could learn from…

  • We learnt that number one on our list should be asking family and friends of the family facts about the family’s past; these can provide great clues for your research. They will continue to provide clues as your research continues and motivation as you start to share your findings with them.
  • Links on the Gateway to websites including Familysearch.org (one of the few free resources out there)  and Cyndi’s List (a great listing of genealogy websites including by country).
  • To keep experimenting trying different searches to find more and more (even when we hit dead-ends). To keep tweaking them and making notes, printing what we find to keep us on track.
  • Although Ancestry did not have birth, marriage or death certificates, they can be useful in continuing ones’ search, and how the results could help us order them either from the General Register Office or the local authority e.g. LBHF’s register office.
  • Hammersmith Library and Archives and the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham are not the only places in London we can learn from it is a great city as far as resources go also containing the National Archives in Kew  and the London Metropolitan Archives being two great examples.
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