Why create “a family history blog” website?

Why am I creating this “family history blog” website?

It started when I was tidying my room one day (sometime after Christmas 2013), and I came to a pile of papers of family history notes, etc. This got me into having a fresh look through some of my family history material.

Among this particular pile of notes were some transcriptions, sent to me some time ago by an aunt, of some very old family documents in her care – dating back as far as the 1720’s. I have never (yet) seen these original documents – only the typed transcriptions from my aunt! But I was now reminded of this, and we will be seeing this aunt in about a week’s time at a family party close to where she lives.

This should be a good opportunity to see these old documents. I would like to be able to photograph, scan, or image these documents in some way for my records.

Following on from looking through this pile of notes, I began looking on the internet for some related information, and then through some family history files saved on my computer. That browse through my computer files drew my attention to some similarly old documents, from another branch of my family, which I had scanned and begun to transcribe a couple of years ago. (See OLIPHANT papers index)

All this got me thinking about these sorts of very old family documents. In some ways its fantastic to have these original documents in the family. But is this really the best thing – for the family at large, or for the preservation and longevity of the documents themselves and the information that they contain? Something for a family discussion!

How would anyone in other, wider parts of the family, get to know about the existence of these documents or of the information that they contain?

Perhaps it would be best for the preservation and longevity of these documents, and of greatest benefit to the largest number of people who might have an interest in them, for them to be given to the national archives!

As I say, this is something to have family discussions about!

Both sets of documents that I mention above come from Scotland, so would go to the Scottish National Archives.

NAS

But I’m also quite aware that for most people, getting to go and see such documents in a national archive is likely to involve a lot of time and money, which they may not have! (personally I currently have time, but not a lot of money!).

National Archives often have good on-line indexes of their records, which are meant to help and encourage people to access their records. But index entries tell you very little about what interesting information is contained within such documents. Perhaps things will improve in time as archives transcribe and/or digitally image more of their records to make available on-line!

So how can we make this material available for anyone with an interest in it to be able to find it and obtain the information that they are looking for from it? Simple, I concluded! Create a website where I can post details of these family documents that I’ve had access to, for others to find and benefit from.

In the past I’ve been inclined not to publish too much family information on-line, for privacy reasons, and so that when I am in contact with other people on-line about family history, I initially have some information kept to myself in order to help test and confirm the validity of the other person’s information. If they have information that matches with information that you have, but haven’t published, then you have reasonable proof of its authenticity, and the authenticity of any new material that they are sharing with you. Its a bit of give and take on both sides to build trust and confidence in each other’s information.

But now, with so much information on-line and more coming all the time, including old official records, etc, I think that that previous caution is perhaps less necessary and probably less effective.

So I’m starting this website, in general to share my family history research, and in particular to share details of these old family document that I get access to, with whoever else will be interested in them.

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