Magazine article Geographical

Not Just Keeping It in the Family

Magazine article Geographical

Not Just Keeping It in the Family

Article excerpt

YOU COULD BE FORGIVEN FOR thinking that history might be something of a dirty word at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). As a subject that has traditionally competed with geography in the school timetable, history isn't a discipline that the Society is used to accommodating, let alone actively incorporating as a strand of its work. Yet, the Society has recently launched a new initiative to help members and the wider public explore their own intimate family histories, stretching back through the generations and across the world.

The Society hosted its first Family History Day in the Foyle Reading Room last autumn, with more planned for later this year. The aim of the days is to show members and the wider public how use of the Society's unique collections--comprising an unrivalled private assortment of maps, photographs, journals and books--can be an invaluable tool for illustrating family trees.

With the National Archives unarguably the best place to nurture the 'saplings' of family tree research, the Society's collections are perfect for helping the tree to blossom by providing invaluable context through a combination of maps, photographs and records. These sources can offer fascinating secondary information on the areas where family members may have lived--including historical images from throughout the UK and beyond--and the reasons why they moved, in the context of wider land-use changes.

'Maps can often be overlooked in family history research, but they can, in fact, provide a much more rounded picture of an ancestor's life than mere birth, death and marriage records,' says Alasdair Macleod, the Society's head of collections. …

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