|James Quayle Dealey|
Because most of my ancestors have been in the United States for quite awhile I've had the luxury of focusing on my American ancestry. I could go so far as to say that it has allowed me to ignore my German, English, Scottish, Dutch and Irish ancestors.
Well, no more. I am headed for a new frontier!
I have just gotten a subscription to FindMyPast.com, the site which predominantly focuses on British research (or at least that's my impression). This is definitely new territory for me.
I have decided to focus on my Dealey ancestors who left England for Galveston, Texas in 1870. I'm focusing on them because they are more recent immigrants and because our family knows really as much as we need to know about them in the United States considering they only go back four generations.
About ten years ago I did dabble in British research. I learned just enough to be dangerous without really understanding what I was doing and without going too in-depth.
When logging in to FindMyPast.com for the first time I wasn't really sure where to start. But then I noticed that, similar to Ancestry.com, they provide an option of having an online tree. While I have mixed feelings about online trees, they are a perfect place to start when you don't know where you are going. And of course, that's the danger of it.
I started my online tree with my Dealey Family. I admit I am still figuring out how to work the FindMyPast.com online tree since it's a bit different that the Ancestry.com tree. But it is very helpful in providing me with links to document hints.
The problem I'm finding, however, is that FindMyPast.com (just like Ancestry.com) can point me to the records, but that doesn't mean I'm necessarily sure what to do with them.
Let me clarify right here that this is not the problem of FindMyPast.com. It's not their job to make me an expert in British records. I need to take the time to figure that out myself.
But what I can see as a fundamental problem in online research is that having access to online records is not enough. You must know what to do with the records once you have found them. I think the disconnect for many new researchers is not knowing where to go to find the background information to understand the records, time period and location they are researching.
For instance, My great grandfather, James Quayle Dealey, is found in the England & Wales Births 1837-2006 record set on FindMyPast.com. This is a register (index), not the original birth records. To their credit, FindMyPast provides a section called About England &; Wales births 1837-2006. This is helpful in that it talks about the index but it doesn't really provide information about where to go next, or where to find the records I'm looking for.
|James Quayle Dealey's 1861 birth as found in |
the England & Wales Births 1837-2006 record set on FindMyPast.com
Ironically, this whole process is quite fun for me because it's allowing me to experience what a brand new genealogist in 2015 experiences when they start their journey.
While I know from past experience that there are resources for learning about British research, I wonder what the new researcher will think when the ask themselves "Now where do I find that birth record?"
I'm going to assume the records I need are not on FindMyPast because they don't appear when I search for the surname Dealey. (Admittedly, I haven't gotten as far as figuring out whether they have un-indexed collections similar to FamilySearch.org but I'm assuming they don't.)
Part of this new journey and experiment is going to be re-creating the experience of new genealogists so I can understand what challenges and obstacles they face. So instead of going straight to resources that I know exist or to experts that I know can help me, I going to put myself in the position of someone who has no connection with the genealogical community or background in research.
The next logical step for me as I try to determine where to find the original birth records is visiting the FindMyPast.com "Help" section of the website.
That will be the discussion of our next post...