Your history need not be a mystery

Have you ever wondered where your ancestors come from? Or what they did for a living?

Ageing Better Middlesbrough member and regular newsletter contributor Ian Stubbs is back, and this time he has lots of great suggestions on finding out more about your family history.

Have you ever wondered where your ancestors come from? What they did for a living? Or if anything interesting happened to them?

There are a wealth of family history and ancestry sites that you can join for a small membership fee, although many do offer an introductory ‘first month for free’, so it’s worth checking them out.

If you are going to start, I would suggest writing down family member’s names and the dates they were born (or passed). This could be your mum, grandmother, great grandmother, or anyone else you have an interest in.

If you don’t have all the details you could ask family members for any old photos, documents or keep-sakes they have from the person you are trying to find out more about.

Old photos taken with a vintage Kodak camera generally displayed the date the image was taken – either on the front or back of the print out.

If that doesn’t work, there are lots of groups in the area that are dedicated to tracing local families, exploring the history of old buildings and niche subjects like industrial archaeology.

During my time as a local historian I have been involved in many exciting projects, including with Ageing Better Middlesbrough, Hands on Middlesbrough and Cannon Street Revisited – which was funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The latter was especially exciting as it brought together more than 4,500 people from six different countries via a Facebook forum, which just goes to show how powerful the internet can be.

They have also created a number of exhibition panels, organised a number of sharing sessions, scanned and shared photos from residents from across the decades, and organised big get-togethers and community events at Teesside University, The Dorman Museum and St Columbas Church.

Cannon Street re-visited exhibition

When things are back to normal, there are also groups within community hubs that you can visit. These are based in North Ormesby, Hemlington, Marton, Normanby and Nunthorpe.

Whatever you do, have fun. You may just find out something very interesting!

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