Be a Family History Detective

Here at Twiglets we love to search for clues about our ancestors. You are probably reading this because you have ancestors called Braund. Maybe Braund is your name now. We have plenty of ideas to help you find out about the exciting story of your family, whether they were called Braund or not. Genealogists want to know who their ancestors were, starting with their parents, then their grandparents, then their grandparents' parents and so on back in time. Of course, there are all the brothers and sisters to add too. Being a family history detective is much more than just collecting names, it is also about finding out about how our ancestors lived, what they wore, what they ate, the jobs that they did and the places that they lived.

We know that families come in many different shapes and sizes. You might live with both your birth parents, with one parent, with a step-parent or with foster parents. Perhaps you have two mums, or two dads or one of each. What ever your family is like, you can still look back at the past and find out more about what makes you you.

A good place to start is by drawing up a family tree. This shows who is in your family and how you are related. The shape of your family may mean that there are some blank spaces, or you might need two trees, one for the family that cares for you and one for your biological family; that's all fine.

You can download and print blank family trees to fill in. Here are two from Family Search but you will find others. Click on the image to download the one you want.

Blank family tree to download
Blank family tree to download

You will soon want something more complicated, that will let you include your brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins. Of course you can draw a family tree on a sheet of paper but you may want a programme that will let you add all the information that you collect. Although some genealogy software is expensive, there are programmes that you can download for free. Before you download anything, make sure that you get the permission of whoever owns the device you are working on.

Ancestral Quest has a free version that works on Windows or a Mac. Or you could try Rootsmagic or Gramps.

We should be able to tell you more about your Braund ancestors and give you plenty of names to add to your tree.

If you are related to the Braunds, you will almost certainly belong to one of our Braund branches. Once you have drawn your first family tree, you are already a family history detective.

About You

You are an Important part of your own family history. You might like to record some facts about yourself. This form might help you. 

Ask the Family

When you first start your detective hunt for the story of your family, it is a really good idea to ask older family members for clues. So the next stage is to grill your Granny. Not literally of course, we just mean ask her a lot of questions. It doesn't have to be a granny either, it can be any older relative who might be able to help you to add new people to your family tree, tell you stories about your family, or show you family heirlooms and photographs of your ancestors. Here is a list of questions that you can download, to give you some ideas about what you could ask your older relatives. Older Twiglets members may prefer this list.

 

There are some Braund family heirlooms in our virtual Braund Museum. Perhaps your family has a Braund heirloom that you could photograph to share in our museum. Here is some more information about heirlooms and a list of heirlooms that some families might have. If your family has heirlooms, remember to take photographs of them. Do ask about the stories behind the heirlooms.

Who is Who?

What Family Historians often talk about second cousin, or first cousins once removed. What does this mean? Just how are you related to all those more distant cousins? To work out a relationship you need to draw a chart showing the common ancestor (CA) or the two people concerned.  If you are the same generation, you are 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. cousins. If you are different generations, that’s where the ‘removed’ comes in. Hopefully these charts will help.

For something a little more complicated, try the next chart.

Original: J Di Vector:  Matt Leidholm (LinkTiger), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Occupations

What can you find out about the jobs that your family did? Many of the Braunds were fishermen or worked on farms. Plenty of the women were domestic servants, doing the cleaning or cooking for other families but there are plenty different jobs that were done by our ancestors. Some of these are occupations that we recognise, like a teacher, a miner or a builder. It isn't always obvious, working out what some of our ancestors did might need us to use our detective skills. How about a fletcher, a cooper, or my favourite, a sagger-maker's bottom knocker; do you know what people with these jobs did?

Look at our Activities page for things to do involving family occupations and try our occupations quiz.

Where do I go next?

Here are some books about searching for your ancestors.

Who am I? The Family Tree Explorer by Anthony Adolph (Quercus 2009)

My Family Tree Book: a fill in and keep activity book by Catherine Bruzzone (bsmall publishing 2017)

When I was young: a book about family history by James Dunbar (Franklin Watts 2004)

Zap the Grandma gap by Janet Hovorka (Family ChartMasters 2013). Look at her website too.

Family history for kids by Emma Jolly (Pymer Quantrill, 2007)

This is me and this is my Family Tree (a workbook) by Nicky May (Ragged Bears Publishing 2009)

National Geographic Kids Guide to Genealogy by T J Resler (National Geographic Kids 2018)

Hw 2 *t ur Fmly Hstry [How to Start Your Family History] by Jane Starkie (Family History Partnership, 2008)

If you are 12 or more, do check out The Hidden Branch, an exciting group of young genealogists from across the world.

Whatever age you are, you might also like to look at The Acorn Club, run by Devon Family History Society.

These pages are new. We will be adding plenty more things to do. Please call back again.