I’ve been researching my family history for years. I began in 2006 and got started by talking to older relatives and inheriting past research done by others. I bought the ‘Family Historian’ genealogy software and signed up to Ancestry.co.uk. I collected lots of names and dates and worked my way back successfully along multiple lines using online census records and certificates ordered from the GRO. I produced a family tree for my grandmother’s 80th birthday which she proudly hung on her wall.
But eventually, all the names and dates began to lose their interest. My inner desire to catalogue, in this case applied to my ancestry, could only go so far. I started wanting to know more about who these people were, what they did and what their lives were like. I wanted to share what I found out with my family and write everything down so my children would be able to read about their roots when they were old enough to care.
I set a goal to write biographies of as many of my ancestors as possible, containing not only the dry facts of their births, marriages and deaths, but a broader, more colourful picture of who they were, the events and decisions which shaped their lives and the times in which they lived. I wanted to put all of this together in a book, illustrated with photos and pictures of original documents, embellished with historical context and smartly printed and bound.
I gradually realised that by doing this I was falling into the trap of ‘completeness’ again, and the project became more about finishing all the biographies and less about actually sharing the stories with those who may want to read them. So my new plan is to publish the things that I find out on this site as I go along, without worrying if they are ‘complete’, and to slowly build a collection of interesting posts for my family, and anyone else who’s interested, to read and hopefully enjoy. And maybe one day I’ll bring these together and finally produce the big book of Balls that can sit proudly on my sons’ bookshelves, just as my first family tree hung on my granny’s wall.