It started as a homework project at college when I was 19. I was on a business course and we had to write a report about our family. When I asked a librarian how I should get started, the reply was “what do you want to do that for?” That was over 30 years ago and even though I handed in the report on time, in many ways I still have not finished the homework.
What are your specialist areas of interest and why have you chosen them?
As a qualified teacher my real specialism is in teaching family history for beginners and those with some research experience. I have physical classes at community centres in the Hull and East Riding area, and an online course. I have just finished a 5 week course teaching the partial sighted how to research their family history. Rather than focusing on the usual subscription websites I only use the free to access ones. http://leavesfamilyhistory.co.uk/courses/ . I really enjoy teaching, and love to see how keen and fired up my students get during their own research, which is part of the class.
As for the research aspect of my business, my specialist areas are more geographical as I live very close to the Hull, East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire archives.
Your most exciting discovery, either personal or professional?
This must be a personal discovery, and I am proud to say the story was published in a family history magazine a few years ago. After extensive research I could not find the family of one of my husband’s ancestors. The whole family just disappeared after 1871. I had made contact with a distance relative via a family history forum who lives in Canada, and during a recent holiday went to visit her. She had a letter that had been in her grandfather’s papers but she did not know what the family link was. When I read it I realised it was from the daughter of the missing family who had all emigrated to America before 1874. http://leavesfamilyhistory.co.uk/blog/solving-a-15-year-old-mystery/
A typical day’s work?
I don’t have a typical day, and that is how I like it. My business day usually starts at 10 am when I check my emails, and social media accounts. If I have planned to be at the Lincolnshire archives my day starts earlier as I try to get there for 10am and it is about a one hour drive. Any research projects or classes I have to do, dictate the rest of the day. If I do not have anything pressing, I spend some time transcribing Suffolk parish registers for the FreeREG website, researching an WW1 soldiers from the Beverley area for the East Riding archives WW1 Lives project, or writing blogs for my own website and the AncestorCloud website. I am currently working on a presentation based on my post grad dissertation on the Victorian deaf in East Yorkshire for a talk planned for early next year.