Genealogical Journey

It's a while since I've written and, during that time, I've moved back to the other side of the world from Ireland. Now we're living in Wellington, New Zealand.

The journey home started in August (as I wrote in my last post). From Glasgow I journeyed to Kendal to visit that branch of the Cumbria Archives. The rooms are only relatively(pardon the pun)small but the information was good. The staff were really helpful, even for me when I was having 'ditzy blonde/senior moments'. I was able to find some information for my IHGS assignments and to make progress with my own family tree. A delight during the visit was listening to a conversation between two other researchers. One elderly gentleman was researching railways and taking meticulous, beautifully hand-written notes. The other man was interested in what the gentleman was doing and asked about it. The gentleman said that nobody had recorded railways history in the area, so he thought he had better, before he ran out of time. It transpired he is 93 years old and researches each day for a couple or three hours (at least he did on the days I was there). I hope I'm like that at his age.

The next research stop was in York. I visited the City of York Archives which were muddly. I've since found out that the Archives are to be renovated, which would explain the muddle. Even the staff seemed confused. I had difficulty finding documents that were catalogued and what was catalogued seemed limited in its extent. The archives room itself had a bank of computers but these were being used for non-archive purposes, including one man who wasplayingon-line action games. I was very disappointed. Thank goodness there will be a shake-up.

By comparison, The Borthwick Institute for Archives, at the University of York, was excellent. York is the second province in the Church of England hierarchy, behind Canterbury, and The Borthwick Institute holds all the diocesan papers for the Northern Province. What a goldmine. The Institute is easy to access by regular bus service that runs from the centre of the city, with the bus stop being pretty-much outside the University of York Library where the Archive is housed.The tranquility of the facility contrasted markedly with that of the city archive. Staff were really friendly and helpful and I was able to find what I was looking for for my assignments.

Warwickshire County Record Office was my next stop. I'd been there before so looked forward to carrying on my research. I was not disappointed. As usual staff were friendly and helpful, I found what I sought and was able to add to, and clarify, information for my tree.

My last stop was in Essex. The County Record Office at Chelmsford was my destination. As with Warwick, I'd been there before, but the service was even better than last time. It's nice to see archives keeping up-to-date with trends and with technology. It's good to see counties that put money aside and value genealogy and history and the staff who work in those areas. Sadly I couldn't find the tithe map I sought—it was catalogued but was missing, however it appears that I'll be able to obtain it through Cambridgeshire Archives. As with my last visit to Chelmsford, staff were friendly and helpful. Yes, 'ditzy blonde/senior moments' again.

So here I am, home in New Zealand. I'm back into a genealogical routine again, with the household unpacked and my office set up. So it's up and off to visit the archives and repositories.

Till next time…

Jan Powell