The Oxford Guide to Family History

The Oxford Guide to Family History

The Oxford Guide to Family History

The Oxford Guide to Family History

Synopsis

Essential reading for anyone interested in tracing his or her family tree, this quick guide has been written by a leading authority on family history and offers many suggestions on how to conduct research.

Excerpt

Future historians will look back with some astonishment at the extraordinary growth in the popularity of family history during the last few decades of the twentieth century. Throughout the ages and across the world people have had a natural curiosity about their ancestors, but only recently have amateur historians begun to trace their forebears with such fervour and delight. in Britain, in the United States of America, and in many other countries the growth of interest has been phenomenal. in Britain alone, tens of thousands of family historians, from all walks of life, are now actively engaged in this type of research and are members of one or more of the numerous family history societies that have been founded in every part of the land.

Why should this interest in our ancestors have mushroomed so spectacularly in recent years? Is it, as some cynics maintain, a reaction against the pace of change in the modern world, a search for roots in a supposedly more secure age when the traditional family was the unquestioned unit upon which society was built? If this is true, it is only part of the explanation and more positive points need to be emphasized. in the late twentieth century, for the first time in history, a great number of people now have the leisure and the means to pursue an interest that has always been a human concern. Books, adult education classes, conferences, and meetings of local societies provide the know-how that was unavailable to previous generations. Even more importantly, however, a door has been opened that allows access to the many and varied records that shed light on our ancestors. Throughout Britain, record offices and libraries now offer the general public the opportunity to use original sources and to see microfilm or microfiche copies of central records; moreover, they provide trained staff to give advice and assistance. the sheer bulk of the archives in national and local repositories gives English people and those of English descent a decided advantage over the inhabitants of most other lands. These immense collections are now available for everyone to consult.

It has been said that family history is England's fastest-growing hobby. Many family historians would reply that 'hobby' is far too mild a word to . . .

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