My Family History Inspiration

25 August 2014. A significant date for me. The day my uncle Brian died. The person responsible for my family history interest.

In the days before online research, uncle Brian made a tentative start finding out about his family tree. He wasn’t a car-driver so he did it the hard way, visiting libraries and record offices by public transport.

Brian Callaghan age 7

Brian Callaghan age 7

It was the story of my nana’s brother, who died after being knocked down by a car in 1910, which initially captured my interest. Seeing grainy photocopies of those old newspaper snippets, which uncle Brian had discovered trawling through library microfilms, kindled in me the desire to find out more. But it was a few more years before I did anything, not until my brother bought me some general family history research books for Christmas 2005.

Since then I’ve been bitten by the family history bug. I’d share relevant finds with my uncle Brian, who married later in life and never had any family of his own.

A distant relative once said about family history research, “you’ve got a mother and a father. That’s all you need to know“.  I wanted to know far more than that.

Uncle Brian too was so genuinely interested. And now I miss sharing my latest discovery with him; or asking questions about the “olden days“. I also regret not finding the time to ask more.

Brian Callaghan

4 responses to “My Family History Inspiration

  1. Fascinating to see what it was that led you on your path, Jane.

    • Thanks Kate. I was always interested in history generally. But Uncle Brian’s interest helped me see it from a more personal, individual level. For me it’s not just about seeing how far back I can go or having a family tree of thousands. I love finding out about the lives of individual ancestors, how they related to their historical and geographical context, and from that my connection with past. And if it hadn’t been for him, in an age before “Who Do You Think You Are?” I may never have thought about taking those first steps.

  2. “you’ve got a mother and a father. That’s all you need to know“ – Wow. What a lovely affectionate blog post 🙂

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