Since I needed a new hobby that didn’t use my hands too much, I decided to restart something began yonks ago and now that my parents are in their 70s I ought to tackle again: my family tree.
My plan was to 1) collect the info I and other family members have and, 2) put it into a digital form and, c) see if I can fill the gaps and then, d) get some sort of book or booklets printed.
So I dug up my old folder of research, which turned out to be very old indeed, judging by the faxes of information in there about genealogy programs for the Amiga. I nagged some stuff out of my parents and found out who else in family has done research and contacted a few of them. After doing some research on genealogy programs for the Mac, I chose one that also had an iPhone app that it synched to, had a nice looking interface, and wasn’t too bound up with Ancestry.com: MacFamilyTree.
(I’m not avoiding Ancestry.com as such, I’m keeping my options open. It’s quite expensive and my research led to doubts about the veracity of information there thanks to people entering dodgy ‘hearsay’ entries as truth and that the site automatically lists all sources as itself.)
Then I got stuck into entering the information I had. Which turned out to be both more and less than I thought. I have a lot of names, but few documents or document reference numbers to verify the source of information or provide dates and places. One branch of the tree has been very well explored by a researcher on that side, for others I have conflicting and confusing information scrawled on a piece of paper.
There’s a James Watts on the well-explored branch, but it looks like he’s not the famous one. His wife is the daughter of William Turner, but a quick look at Wikipedia revealed that there are a lot of them, so I think it’s unlikely it’s the famous painter.
Entering details into the program does make my hand start to burn after a while, so I’ve been rationing the work. I’ve done a little exploring of the internet to see what archives can be searched. Looks like my impression that there’s a lot of information out there that can be searched for free is wrong. But I haven’t looked too deeply yet.