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Family History: It's a myth that our ancestors didn't move far

By The Citizen  |  Posted: November 17, 2012

HEADING WEST: Welsh settlers who emigrated to Patagonia in Argentina from 1865. Many descendants still live there.

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ONE of the myths of family history is that "they didn't move far".

For reasons of employment, family circumstances and national forces, at one time or another your ancestors will have upped sticks and moved.

Be it the decline of the wool industry in the Stroud Valleys leading to emigration or the building of the railways leading to more opportunities in Yorkshire and the North East, at some time you will need to research areas or countries that initially may not provide easy access.

Our photograph this week shows a community that travelled very far – Welsh settlers who emigrated all the way to Patagonia in South America from 1865.

This week's tip is to do some pre-research about where you are going to locate these records to verify information on your family tree and extend it further back in time.

To do this, you will need to balance online and offline detective work.

This means investigating key websites and the network of archives, museums, libraries and research centres.

Most of the main datasets are now online.

They are hosted by various commercial organisations like www. ancestry.co.uk, www.findmypast.co.uk or www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk for Scottish records.

The Gloucestershire Family History Society (GFHS) has a centre adjoining Gloucestershire Archives in Alvin Street, Gloucester, and we provide free access to most commercial sites.

We also hold data relating to other areas and many of our volunteers are experts in other areas of the country.

Remember – people migrated to this county as well as away from it.

Local study centres are a good place to look for material relevant to the local area.

These are often based in main libraries and Cheltenham, for instance, has a very good one.

County archives will have duplicate microfilm/fiche versions of key national datasets or regional census returns.

Always look for a regional or specialist museum relevant to the community or occupation in which your ancestor was involved.

Thanks to modern technology and local resources, you may not need to travel as far as your ancestors.

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