Thursday, 14 November 2013

GenChat - 13th November 2013

Yesterday Jen over at Conference Keeper hosted another fascinating round of #GenChat at Twitter This time the discussion point was geography.

Now there were a series of questions and I might not have noted them all down in the order they were presented. Apologies for my slackness, I was trying to keep up with the Tweets!

What is Geography?

When I went to school geography was about exploring places and what happens there, why and how and when. All those key questions that really we are, or at least should be applying to genealogy. Geography gives us an opportunity to explore the location of our ancestors, how they lived and worked. It enables us to break through those lists of names and dates and drill down to a depth of more detail.

Understanding Border Changes over time

This is really important. It might be a simple case of a town essentially being in a County. I have a family member who lived in Stony Stratford in Buckinghamshire. The town has also been in Oxfordshire. That border change might influence our ancestors lives for lots of reasons. In some cases, towns on the borders of various Countries can overnight find themselves in another Country - look at Countries such as Italy and Switzerland.

At this point there were various resources listed and therefore I am simply going to present them here, at this point I have not had chance to explore them all

Using Gazetteers

There are various opportunities to access these here are a few ideas
  • Google Books
  • Local Museums and Archives
  • Historical Associations
  • Archaeological Societies
  • Specific archives - mining might have some general information
  • The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers - fabulous, but expensive!
  • Centennia
  • Ordnance Survey
  • Animaps
  • Google Maps

What else can you do to understand changes?

Again this is about getting down to the basic roots of a specific place. 
  • What sort of trade was there? 
    • Industrial
    • Rural/Farming
    • Mining - coal, tin
    • Canals
  • Transportation - railway town?

Do you use Timelines to understand your geography?
  • When did events happen?
    • National, 
    • Local
    • Global
  • This enables researchers to get a sense of time and place within their geographical research area - this could be things like
    • Religious changes/Persecutions of religious groups = migration pattens
    • Results of wars
      • First World War
      • Second World War
      • Post Second World War - Israel, Palestine, Korea, Vietnam for example
      • Yugoslavia
  • Monarchy/Presidency
  • Economy

Researching at County level
  • Understanding terminology - Hamlet, village, town, township, county, state etc
    • Wikipedia
    • Family Search Wiki
    • Local Societies
    • Tourist information centers and resources

Political Boundaries - based on natural elements
  • Flood plains
  • Rivers
  • Earthquakes
  • Typhoons
  • Bush fires
  • Other Disasters
    • Perhaps a disaster has left a monument  - example - Lockerbie Bombing 1991 This event created not only the monument, and a link between Scotland and the US, but Lockerbie has changed as a result.
Look at the location through the eyes of your ancestor
  • Transportation  - no highways - walked across the fields
  • Who did they work for?
    • Who owned the land - deeds, land records, tithe maps
    • Some agricultural labours moved location because of the land owner
Accessing copies of archives? Have you just visited with no agenda?
  • Can you obtain copies easily of material?
  • Is there a catalog
    • Is it reliable or hidden gems!
Other references
Khan Academy

Using GenChat
I have to say I rather like GenChat - tweeting for an hour, in sort bursts and this can create a 21st Century conversation! - sharing of information and URLS. This event was held at 4pm UK time which is brilliant, and I hope that more UK participants join in and share ideas and resources.

Here is the GenChat Schedule so you don't miss out on the fun!


  1. Thank you so much, Julie! I'm glad you like #genchat, that's always nice for me to hear, and I appreciate you sharing your experience with it. I hope to add even more UK friendly times and chats in 2014!

  2. Great to hear that Jen!

  3. Thanks for the summary. Some great resources listed here.

    1. There are some great resources - some I had not come across before so those are added to my to do list!


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