Who needs Doctor Who’s Tardis when we can all travel in time?

I was watching a Brian Cox programme last night (the professor not the actor), he was talking about time travel and Doctor Who.

It was fascinating, not that he was speaking about it becoming feasible any time in the near future, and he talked about travel and time; the bending of time and how time can pass differently for people under different circumstances.

The programme was 10 years old but had lost none of its relevance.

It was filmed in Manchester in the same building where Michael Faraday had given one of his Christmas scientific lectures in 1860 and Brian Cox was explaining to a celebrity audience how he would have liked to have gone back in time to actually see Faraday giving his lecture.

Michael Faraday giving a scientific lecture in Manchester, 1860.

In a way he had come close to achieving this because he was in the same spot and he had a transcription of what Faraday actually said. At the same time you could almost say that I had travelled back to the time when Brian Cox had given his talk and was able to see him 10 years on.

I know, I know, time travel isn’t possible – YET!

There is a way, however, that we can travel in time by looking into our family trees and unearthing objects they may have touched or letters or writings that might have been passed down through the family.

Family History, or genealogy, in a loose sense involves a search for details about your ancestry. In the narrower sense a genealogy or family tree really apply to seeking the descendants of a particular person.

Over the last 50 years, however, it has become an acceptable term for looking for the ancestors (and their families) of an individual in modern times where the generations would expand backwards.

My wife and I first took an interest in our family histories back in the 70s when the whole process was much more difficult. No worldwide web to garner information from all over the world.

In the 1970s you could access certain records at your local library but more often than not it would involve writing to a main record office with whatever basic information you had and hope they could help.

It became even more difficult when we moved to Australia but during our four and a half years out there I did strike up a friendly correspondence with an archivist at the National Library of Wales.

In almost 50 years we have managed to do a lot of work on both our family trees, going back to the late 1500s, early 1600s. During that time I also became the launch editor of a regional family history magazine and carried out research for other people.

Over this year I will be writing a number of articles to help others get stuck into their own family history and hopefully, if you haven’t already climbed your own family tree, it may give you a good start.

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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