Across many parts of the UK and Ireland, the first two weeks of August are known as the ‘builders holidays’. This is a time when construction sites across the country shut down as builders and their families head for the beaches of Bognor or Bundoran.
August is a time for holidays. Assuming your family haven’t agreed to holiday in the National Archive like you wanted, then most likely it’s a holiday away from your computer and the big pile of records sitting on your desk.
However, being away from your computer no longer means being away from your research. Here are some essentials every genealogist should pack when travelling.
There are many genealogy apps out there but there are two apps we suggest all family historians have on their phone.
• Ancestry Mobile App – The Ancestry mobile app is our go-to family reference app for when you’re out and about. It works offline which means you can check your tree even when you can’t reach the Internet. It also comes in handy when friends or relatives ask questions about your family tree research – simply open up the app and check. If you have an iPhone or Android phone, the Ancestry app is a must-have.
• Findagrave – We bet it’s not uncommon for you to stop and explore the local graveyards in your holiday destination (while your family sit patiently waiting in the car). If this sounds familiar, we suggest downloading the Findagrave app. The app allows you to photograph headstones and then upload them later when you have access to the Internet.
Podcasts are a great way to listen to history when you’re on holiday. There are some really good podcasts like Family Tree Magazine or the Genealogy Guys that give great genealogy tips. But here’s our two favourite general history podcasts.
• History Hit – Dan Snow is a well known history presenter in the UK. His easy going manner and enthusiasm for history come across really well in his podcast which covers a whole range of historical perspectives.
• Irish History Podcast – Fin Dwyer presents the Irish History Podcast. Be prepared for it to become a firm favourite. For the most part Fin focuses on medieval Ireland but he also takes on more modern topics such Bridget Cleary. What makes Fin’s podcast stand out is his depth of knowledge and the research he puts into every episode. His series on the Normans is as good an account as you will listen to or read anywhere.
Whether you still believe in paperback books, or have converted to the Kindle, here are some recommendations for your reading list this summer.
• Family Matters by Michael Sharpe – Family Matters is a history of genealogy looking at the subject in Britain from the earliest times to modern day technological advances like the Internet and DNA. The preface alone will have you hooked as Sharpe describes his childhood conversations with great uncle ‘Wal.
• Blood of the Celts by Jean Manco – A must-read which explores the origins of the ancient Celts, through to the modern Celtic revival.
• The Invisible History of the Human Race by Christine Keneally – In short, this is a story about DNA and genetic genealogy, but in fact it is much more. It explores genealogy through the ages and what drives us to want to know more about our ancestors.
If you are heading off on holidays this August, safe travels. Whether it’s a trip to the beach or trekking in the Himalayas, it’s nice to know we can take our family history with us.