52 Weeks of Genealogical Records - Week 7 Local histories

This week is week 7 of Shauna Hicks genealogical blogging challenge for 2014. Shauna has said that this blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogical blogging efforts in 2014 by focusing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected by own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world. I am hoping that this challenge will provide a focus for my blogging efforts this year.

For many members of my family I have been fortunate to gather detailed information which has allowed me to know these people much better. However, for others the only records that seem to have been left behind are simply dates of birth, marriage and death, where they came from, where they lived in Australia and how many children they had. At times some of these dates and places also allude me.

I made a conscious decision several years ago to make these people live too. Every couple of months I go to Abebooks and search for second hand copies of local history books from the towns and surrounding areas of my various families, both in Australia and overseas. I have thus been able to expand my collection of history books.

Some of my purchases have included:

My Lavey Childhood by John Hughes. Born in 1928, the author describes the first sixteen years of his life, spent in the rural parish of Lavey, South Derry. Although my families had all left this part of Ireland long before this date, many of the practices described were long standing traditions, so I now have a glimpse into life in this part of Northern Ireland.

History of Magherafelt, Ireland by W.H. Maitland. This book is a reproduction of a book published before 1923 and gives a detailed history of Magherafelt in the 1800s.

Castlecomer Connections - Exploring History Geography and Social Evolution in North Kilkenny Environs by Tom Long. This book is an amazing local history published in 1984. It is full of stories and photographs from early times up to the 1980s.

Old Stranraer and Cairnryan by Donnie Nelson - This book of photographs and simple descriptions shows places my McColm ancestors may have seen.

Kilraughts - a Kirk and its People by S. Alexander Blair discusses the history of the church where some of my ancestors are buried.

Each of these books and many others on my book shelves help to fill in the gaps about what life may have been like for my ancestors. There are images of buildings and places they would have seen, people they may have known, events they may have experienced and they help me to understand what life may have been like living there.

Who knows one day I may purchase a local history book and find family members mentioned!