Ge­neal­o­gist and author Emma Jolly ex­plains how to get the best out of on­line re­sources and un­cover rich de­tails of re­cent an­ces­tors

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Our ex­pert shares 20 use­ful tips to help you learn more about the lives of your re­cent fam­ily

As we move fur­ther into the 21st cen­tury, more records from the pre­vi­ous 100 years are en­ter­ing the pub­lic do­main. In the past few months alone, we have be­come able to ac­cess the 1939 Reg­is­ter on three dif­fer­ent sites ( ances­try.co.uk,

find­my­past.co.uk and my­her­itage.com). Even though we are closer to the 20th cen­tury, re­search­ing re­cent an­ces­tors can of­ten be more dif­fi­cult than look­ing into their Vic­to­rian fore­bears. You may strug­gle to find out much about their ev­ery­day lives, while other rel­a­tives seem to have com­pletely dis­ap­peared.

Your kin may be hard to trace be­cause re­stric­tions re­main on some records of in­di­vid­u­als born within the past 100 years. Other an­ces­tors may have be­come ‘lost’ as a re­sult of some of the con­se­quences of the many mil­i­tary con­flicts of the 20th cen­tury. These in­clude deaths over­seas, rushed mar­riages and il­le­git­i­mate chil­dren.

While the First World War cen­te­nary com­mem­o­ra­tions have helped to bring more records from that pe­riod into the pub­lic do­main, Sec­ond World War ser­vice records are still re­tained by the Min­istry of De­fence.

Also 20th-cen­tury an­ces­tors may be dif­fi­cult to lo­cate if they took ad­van­tage of im­proved travel op­por­tu­ni­ties. By the 1960s com­mer­cial flights were more pop­u­lar than sea travel, but air­line pas­sen­ger lists have not sur­vived. Mi­gra­tion to and from the coun­try in­creased thanks to post-war Com­mon­wealth im­mi­gra­tion, In­dian in­de­pen­dence in 1947, and the As­sisted Pas­sage Mi­gra­tion Scheme to Aus­tralia of 1945–1982.

As with pre­vi­ous cen­turies, crim­i­nal and im­mi­grant an­ces­tors, and those in cer­tain oc­cu­pa­tions (such as ac­tors), of­ten changed names in­for­mally, with no of­fi­cial record.

This ar­ti­cle guides you through some of the most use­ful records for 20th-cen­tury re­search, help­ing you to im­prove your knowl­edge about fam­ily over those decades. These tips will en­able you to dis­cover more about your rel­a­tives’ lives, res­i­dences and char­ac­ters dur­ing one of the most fastchang­ing cen­turies in hu­man his­tory.

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