Researching ancestry without the Internet

Cast your mind back to the 1980s. There was no internet for the public! To start your own family search, it would involve word of mouth, letters and making lots of phone calls.

If you thought you had made a discovery, then using that name, the first port of call was the Telephone Directory. That meant going through each listing in turn and making calls until you found the right person, or not, as was the usual outcome. If you struck lucky, that really was a bonus.

The other method, would be to go to the local Library and trawl through any directories and Electoral Rolls that they kept on record. Once you had your list of possible names and addresses, it was back home to start writing, or if you were posh, typing. This time however, you would have to use good old “Snail Mail”. Sometimes up to a dozen letters at a time. If you had some spare cash, then a self-addressed envelope, complete with stamp, would be enclosed. Again, you were very fortunate if you had a reply.

Even back then, people were cautious of unsolicited mail!

Other sources of reliable information would be the local Records Office, Parish Records and my favourite, Graveyards! Believe me, graveyards hold a wonderful amount of data. If you know where someone is buried, then visiting that site not only gets you out of the house, but can lead you to other family members. Quite often, the headstone inscription would show middle names, date of birth or at least age, date of death and more often than not, spouse and children. If a certain person was interred at this or that cemetery, then it was likely that their parents would be there too.

Of course, all that has changed. Now, you can even find photos of gravestones on the internet. What next!