February – the month of romance. Some love it, others hate it, I however sit somewhere in the middle. Personally, instead of buying into all the commercial hype and merchandise for sale in most shops, I use the day to shower my husband with the love and affection. However, in addition to these romantic expressions of love, this Valentine’s Day I have decided to do things a little differently and commemorate the loves of my ancestors as well as my own. Without which, needless to say, I certainly wouldn’t be here!
What great romances do you know about in your family history? Perhaps the greatest love story ever took place in your family and, if so, wouldn’t you want to find out about it? With my Cuban heritage and my passionately expressive family, I can’t even begin to imagine the fiery romances that took place in preceding generations.
Mining for the love stories in your family’s past can be easier than you think and capturing the stories can be a meaningful and colourful addition to your family tree to be passed on through the generations.
Start by searching online databases for records that divulge information about your ancestors’ love lives. Marriage records are a great starting point because they contain key information about the marriage in question. Start by searching for your ancestors in our Marriage Indexes, which detail the quarter, name, district and volume and page number. The volume and page number will enable to you to purchase the right marriage record from the General Register Office.
A marriage index record:
The information you can glean from a marriage record:
Some families hold onto old love letters or correspondence from times of war when couples were separated for long periods of time so ask older family members if they know of any such documents. These are goldmines of information and you could learn more in one letter than in years of research about them and their romantic story. You can then scan and upload these images to your online family tree, thus preserving them forever.
Even if you don’t find any old love letters your older family members may well know of stories of love so ask as many questions as possible - they might reveal one small ‘pearl of romance’ that gives you the tools to go away and conduct further research either on or offline about the ancestor(s) in question and their love story. Why not consider recording these conversations and uploading the files to your tree? It’s yet another way of adding rich and meaningful information to your family tree, which can be listened to by future generations for years to come.
One of my New Year’s resolutions this year is to create rich content for my descendants – for my children and their children’s children. The internet has transformed family history research and I love the idea that in hundreds of years’ time my descendants will be able to go online and listen to my story – the one of how my husband and I met, fell deeply in love and spent our life together.
Start searching for the romance in your family history at www.ancestry.co.uk/Marriage and if you have a recording device, either on your phone, computer, camera then why don’t you tell a story of romance this Valentine’s Day and upload it to your tree. Click here to read more about how to do this.
If you’re on Twitter why don’t you tweet us on the 14th February @AncestryUK with the hashtag #PastRomance about any findings of love you make this Valentine’s Day.
We’re also on Facebook and you can join the conversation about our ancestors’ tales of love and romance on this coming Valentine’s Day.