Thanks to programmes like Who Do You Think You Are? people’s interest in researching their family tree is more popular than ever.
For those not sure where to start Sussex genealogist Mary Teviot has recently released her book The Street-Wise Guide to Doing You Family History, in a bid to help those wanting to know more about their ancestors.
“I have used my own genealogical journey to cover every aspect of family history, offering tips and shortcuts to smooth the beginner’s path in what can be a treacherous field”, explains Lady Teviot.
“The popular TV shows do make it all look rather easy when in fact it is much more involved than it appears on the screen. That said, this is not a book just for the inexperienced.”
The book covers research methods from the traditional paper-based ones to the wealth of online resources now easily accessible.
“You can get things more instantly now. I think that is why so many people do it,” the Burgess Hill resident reveals.
“When I was doing it we only had the census from 1841, 51 and 61 whereas now you have the 1911 census. And then you had to go to the county offices and look at parish records where as now you can get it pretty much all online.”
Lady Teviot’s advice to anyone thinking about researching their ancestors is to talk to family members.
“Every family has stories,” she smiles.
“I had one woman say that her grandmother told her she was born in a castle. Well we found out she was born in a pub called The Castle which was near a castle so there was some truth to it. You have to unpick those stories and get the information you can make use of.”
Lady Teviot has decades of experience to call on, having run the professional genealogical research company Census Searches which provides expert scrutiny into family history, probate and media investigation.
This has taken her on lecture tours across the globe and she was made president of the Federation of Family History Societies, and is now a life vice-president.
The book is the latest in a How-To series from Brighton-based publishers Edward Everett Root.
“My aim, from the outset, was to unravel the mystery because I hear from so many people who say they begin the journey only to hit a brick wall early on,” she says.
“Their instinct is to give up at that point when, with a little help, they could continue in what could well be a fascinating personal endeavour.”
With a number of years in the field she is still as passionate as ever.
“I love what I do I’m like a little Jack Russell Terrier. I’m just excited to get going. You never know what you are going to find and it truly is a way of life for me now.”
For more information on Lady Teviot and to buy the book, visit www.ladyteviot.co.uk