Archives for family history

‘Ignoring Gravity’ and other writings

I’m now re-drafting Connectedness, part two in the ‘Rose Haldane: Identity Detective’ series, with publication scheduled for late 2016. This is the story of Justine Tree who as an art student gives up her baby for adoption. Almost 30 years later, she asks Rose to find her lost daughter. I’m in the middle of fact-checking the manuscript and my next task is to re-visit Malaga, Spain, where Justine was at art college. I need to check details of locations including Plaza de la Merced, where Justine lives… … the Cathedral, where she sells her paintings to tourists… She lives in an apartment in a building like this… She finds Malaga an inspiring place, particularly the influence of the Moors on architecture. She loves the colours, the shapes and derivation of pattern and the texture and use of materials such as brick and tile. But Malaga is also the place where her life takes an unexpected turn… love, poverty, pregnancy. What happens in Malaga influences her life in ways she can never predict. To make sure you don’t miss the publication of Connectedness, sign-up for my newsletter here for advance information. And don’t forget to read Ignoring Gravity first!   ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra
Read More

Categories: Book Love, My Novel: 'Connectedness' and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Family history: Deceased Online

I grew familiar with churchyards and graveyards when I was working on Ignoring Gravity as Rose Haldane believes her birth mother is dead and so searches amongst the headstones. If Deceased Online had existed when Rose was searching for her birth mother, perhaps she would simply have searched the database online. Deceased Online is the first central database of burial and cremation records in the UK, and records are constantly being added to its database. To read how I researched the graveyard scene in Ignoring Gravity, click here. So I tested the Deceased Online database with a random search for the name of my father. One exact match was found, a gravestone at St Maxentius, Bradshaw, Lancashire. Not my father, and not one of my relatives. Sadly my search went no further as this headstone is not part of the DO contract, so was available to view only by payment with the local authority: £2 to view the single headstone, or £15 to view all 511 headstones at this property. An annual subscription scheme is promised. My second search was for ‘Rose Haldane’. More success here, 36 headstone collections were found for Haldane, various cemeteries, mostly in Scotland, with multiple headstones. The most,
Read More

Categories: Family history research, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity' and On Researching.

Family history: British Newspaper Archive

The days are gone when researching old newspaper articles meant a trip to a library. Nowadays there is a fantastic online resource for anyone trying to trace lost relatives or researching their family tree. The British Newspaper Archive has almost 11.5 million newspaper pages on its archives from the 1700s onwards, across 473 UK newspaper titles. As part of my research for Ignoring Gravity, I read countless newspaper and magazine articles about adoption, the stories of birth mothers, adoptees and adoptive parents. I tested the BNA database. A random search for ‘Sandra Danby‘ produced three results, none of which were about me. Here are two:- May 6, 1950 Hull Daily Mail [above]: Sandra Danby was a principal performer at a concert in Hessle Town Hall, along with Elsie Meek, Sylvia Cowling and Michael Goforth. I’ve made a note of the name Elsie Meek, inspiration for a character name perhaps?June 19, 1950 Hull Daily Mail [above]: Sandra Danby from Hessle came second in the Haltemprice Fancy Dress Prize Winners ‘Most Attractive’ section, she was dressed as a Dutch girl. First prize was won by Patricia Partington, who dressed as Bo Peep. Next, I searched for ‘Rose Haldane’ and had more success with 13
Read More

Categories: Family history research, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity' and On Researching.

Family history: HistoryPin

HistoryPin is a great idea. A global project which enables you to attach photographs and memories to a global map. A fantastic resource for family history researchers or novelists, like me. Like Pinterest, but specifically for history. There are some fascinating subjects which I will re-visit for research; I particularly liked ‘Remember How We Used To…’ Photographs of how we kept warm, played, worked, cooked and cleaned, celebrated and worked. Another useful function is searching by location. Ignoring Gravity is set around Wimbledon, Richmond [below], London Docklands and Battersea. Searching Wimbledon brings up a photo of the Blitz in 1941, the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in 1962, a street party in Putney in 1989, and carriage cleaners at Wimbledon Traincare Depot in 1916. A search for Battersea is less populated, though there is a great black and white photograph of a boy and girl – siblings perhaps – standing outside a house on Winstanley Road in 1951-3. In conclusion, this is a work in progress and geographical coverage is not consistent. But it is worth consulting if you are researching a specific location. All uploaded photographs are pinned to a specific place, and are shown on a street map so it is
Read More

Categories: Family history research, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity' and On Researching.

Book review: The House at the Edge of the World

The premise of this book by Julia Rochester is great. One night, on his way home from the pub, Morwenna and Corwen’s father stops to pee over the cliff edge. And falls. Their lives are never the same again. The house of the title is the Venton family home on the Devon coastline, and this book is imbued with the history of this family, woven together with real family stories, family myths of things that may have happened, and coastal history. The twins’ grandfather, Matthew, is something of a recluse, working on the family history and painting an enormous map of the local area. Cameos of local places, people and events are featured on the map. Again and again, as the twins grow up [they are 18 when the story starts] they each run away to different places. Finally events draw them back to their childhood home, their grandfather and his map, as if drawn by a magnet and still wondering what really happened to their father. I grew up by the seaside, and the town where they live is drawn so clearly the memories flooded back: the beach huts, the seagulls, the cliff top paths, the dropped ice cream cones.
Read More

Categories: Book Love.

Shellyback Books reviews ‘Ignoring Gravity’

“This book genuinely surprised me. Reading the first couple of pages I almost put it down but I am really glad I didn’t make that mistake because as it drew me in I found it increasingly difficult to stop reading. I love books about secrets and this was no exception. Solving this puzzle was literally like peeling layers off an onion. A chance discovery of an old diary turns Rose’s world upside down causing her to question her identity and initiate her search for her other family,” says Michelle de Haan at book blog Shellyback Books. “Highly recommended debut novel. Whilst promoted as the first in a new series this book is complete in itself and easily stands alone.” To read Michelle’s review in full, click here for her book blog. To read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity, click here. Want to know more about Ignoring Gravity? Click here to watch the book trailer. ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: IGNORING GRAVITY #bookreview by @haanmy at Shellyback Books http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1Jj via @SandraDanby
Read More

Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Book review: I Belong to No One

This is a brave book, a memoir written by Gwen Wilson knowing that she may be criticised, knowing that readers may disapprove, but having the courage to write it anyway. To say ‘This is me, this is what I did when I was a teenager’. Gwen Wilson had a tough start in life. Her father was not in her life, in fact in later years she discovers that her father was a completely different man from the one she thought he was. Instead she grows up with her mother and half-brother Steve. Her mother would today be diagnosed as bi-polar, Steve is thrust into the role of authority figure. The young Gwen grows up relying on stand-in families, those of trusting neighbours or the parents of her schoolfriends. Looking for love, for approval, it is little wonder that she gets ’into trouble’. Gwen Wilson celebrated her 60th birthday just before this memoir was published. She has travelled a long way and become a different person since the girl who struggled to be a mother and wife when she was still a young girl. There should have been more support for her, but 1970s Australia was in many ways an unforgiving
Read More

Categories: Adoption, Book Love and Family history research.

Book review: Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs

This is the true story of one woman’s search for her birth family which crosses continents from South Africa and Rhodesia, to Australia, the UK, and Holland. Jane Eales discovered she was adopted when she was 19. Her adoptive parents made her swear never to tell anyone else about her adoption and never to search for her birth parents. She lived with the uncertainty of not knowing for 40 years until, when both her adoptive parents were dead, she started to search. The journey crosses continents as she uncovers a family’s pre-World War Two flight as Hitler threatens, the politics of Southern Africa, and spying during WW2. The ‘Spotted Dogs’ in the title is a reference to Dalmatian dogs; the author’s birth mother, Phyllis, was a renowned UK dog breeder. For Jane Eales, the promise she made to her adoptive parents was a difficult one to break. They were the only parents she had known, they cared for her, she loved them though she found it difficult to accept and understand their need for secrecy when it made her own life so ill-defined. What prompted her to search? With a learning-disabled son, she was advised to check her own genetic
Read More

Categories: Adoption, Book Love, Family history research and On Researching.

Family history: 20 top tips to find your missing ancestors

You’ve decided to trace your family tree, back through the generations. Easy, it’s just a case of trawling through the Birth, Marriages and Deaths records, right? Sadly it’s not always that straightforward… but there are ways to track down missing ancestors. These are the 20 Top Tips by Who Do You Think You Are?’s TV show genealogist Laura Berry. If you have an ancestor who is missing from official records, there are numerous possible reasons for their absence. 1 Ancestors may have used middle names. I don’t have a middle name but Adeline V Stephen, who was christened in 1882, was known by her second name Virginia. She became the writer Virginia Woolf. 2 Check the mother’s maiden name, not everyone was born in wedlock. 3 If you are really stuck, you can post a question on a genealogy forum such as the WDYTYA Forum. Often other forum users may be able to help. 4 Perhaps your ancestor simply moved. Try searching in a neighbouring area. 5 Names were often misspelt, and the mistake is continued down the line. 6 If you are drawing a blank at your favourite genealogy website, try using a different website which may have a slightly different
Read More

Categories: Book Love, Family history research and On Researching.

Author Interview: Gwen Wilson

I Belong to No One is the memoir of Gwen Wilson. The story of her life, from family violence, teenage pregnancy and forced adoption, how she dealt with all of that and became the woman she is today. The book is published on June 30, 2015. I hesitate to use the word ‘gritty’; although Gwen’s story is harsh and at times difficult to read about, at the same time her flowing writing style makes the pages turn. How many years did it take you to write your book, and what was the trigger that made you start? The initial trigger was my 50th birthday party, way back in 2005. Part way through my speech, it dawned on me that each of the guests represented a distinct part of my life. Family, friends, and colleagues – it was like a map of my life’s journey. The fact that I was even there – well-dressed, financially secure, a successful career woman, with a supportive husband at my side – was a source of wonder. My life could so easily have gone a different way. As I spoke, I felt the spiritual presence of those people – particularly the women -who had supported
Read More

Categories: Adoption, Book Love and Family history research.

Word Gurgle reviews ‘Ignoring Gravity’

“It took me a little bit to get into the book, but once I did, I could not put it down. I loved that this book brought some often-difficult issues: infertility, adoption, family relationship, and identity to light. An overall delightful read,” says book reviewer Hope Sloper at Word Gurgle. Read Hope’s review in full by clicking here. To read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity, click here. Want to know more about Ignoring Gravity? Watch the book trailer. ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: IGNORING GRAVITY #bookreview by @WordGurgle http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1Bh via @SandraDanby
Read More

Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Family history: using maps

Understanding your lost relatives is a little easier when you can place them geographically. Today there are huge online resources of historical maps which make this easier. If you are searching for someone today and you have an address, the best place to start is the simplest: Google Maps. Just type in a place name and map focuses on the area you want, making it easy to find addresses from birth certificates, for example. When you are dealing with an area of the country with which you are unfamiliar, using GoogleMaps allows you to familiarise yourself with the area and perhaps connect up a couple of clues which previously did not make sense. For example, birth certificates or baptism records with addresses which do not tally with other clues you have. Looking at the area on a map can often clarify the options. Britain From Above allows you to look down on early to mid-20th century homes, from the skies. For example, I grew up on the North Yorkshire coast near Filey, below are two photographs from the area. Top is a 1925 photograph showing Carr Naze and Filey Brigg; the pic below shows Crescent Hill and Foreshore Road in Filey in 1932.
Read More

Categories: Book Love, Family history research and On Researching.

Family history: searching the bastardy records

Trawling through records is difficult enough, but when you are trying to trace an illegitimate relative it can become disheartening. More than 14,000 bastardy records held by the West Yorkshire Archive Service have been indexed and made available online at Ancestry.co.uk. The records start from 1690 up to 1914 with documents including the maintenance of illegitimate children, bastardy bonds, and warrants for apprehending errant fathers who tried to escape responsibility for their children. To explore the full database at Ancestry.co.uk, click here.   To read how my research for Ignoring Gravity took me to the Family Records Centre in North London, and what I found there, click here. ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now   If you want to read more about family history research, try these articles:- Did your Ancestor belong to a Trade Union? Researching children’s homes Look locally And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: How to find an illegitimate ancestor #familyhistory via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1xY
Read More

Categories: Book Love, Family history research, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity' and On Researching.

Splashes into Books reviews ‘Ignoring Gravity’

“This is a dramatic story, written in a manner that enables and encourages the reader to empathize with all that Rose is experiencing. The characters are portrayed brilliantly, warts and all, and the discoveries she makes reveal other secrets from the past and will have an impact on all their futures,” says book reviewer Elaine Brent at Splashes into Books. Read Elaine’s review in full by clicking here. To read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity, click here. ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: IGNORING GRAVITY #bookreview by @bicted http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1BJ via @SandraDanby
Read More

Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Rose Haldane: not just one book but the first of a series

Ignoring Gravity is the first novel in a series about Rose Haldane ‘Identity Detective’. Rose, a journalist, discovers she was adopted as a tiny baby, and Ignoring Gravity tells the story of her search for her birth family. The story is told from her point of view, so we see the diaries and documents she discovers, we experience her anger, pain and sense of betrayal. But the adoption triangle includes so many more people than just the adoption baby. So in the Rose Haldane series, I will be exploring the story of others involved in adoption. The second book, Connectedness, focuses on the experience of a birth mother, who gives her baby away. The story rejoins Rose and her sister Lily two years later, but the main focus of the tale is on Justine Tree. Her mother has died and she is bereft, but Justine’s grief is double-edged. When she was an art student in Spain in the 1980s, she became pregnant.  The Yorkshire-born artist, now famous around the world, is desperate to find the secret daughter she gave up for adoption. Justine and Rose meet at an interview about Justine’s latest art collection. The two women connect, so much so that
Read More

Categories: Book Love, My Novel: 'Connectedness' and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Family history: surname research

Do you know anyone with the same surname as you? I have only ever met one other Danby, so I was curious to explore the roots of my name. As an experiment, search on Google for your surname. I did, and these were the top five entries:- The Wikipedia entry for Danby, a village in North Yorkshire, 44 miles from where I grew up. Yorkshire.com‘s tourist guide to the village of Danby Plumbing and heating engineer, B Danbys. Based in Hull, 38 miles from where I grew up. The Duke of Wellington pub in the village of Danby, North Yorkshire Local community website Esk Valley, where the village of Danby is located on the North Yorkshire Moors. So, my surname is anchored in Yorkshire. This is a light-hearted search, my next stage is to investigate the surname resources online. If you want to research your surname, click on these links here:- The Surname Society The Guild of One-Name Studies The Internet Surname Database UK BMD Select Surname List Great Britain Family Names Profiling website Just out of curiosity, I Googled Rose’s surname – Haldane- from Ignoring Gravity. Here are the top three entries of almost 2.9million results:- Architectural joinery company Haldane
Read More

Categories: Book Love, Family history research and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Family history: identifying headstones

Tracing relatives – whether you are researching your family tree or on the trail of your birth family – will inevitably lead you at some point to a graveyard. Finding the headstones of relatives is always a bittersweet moment, but the text and dates may drive your search onwards.That process is now easier as 22,000 new headstone records have been added to the database at TheGenealogist.co.uk with additions of records from Buckinghamshire, Devon, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire, Somerset, West Midlands, Wiltshire plus 12 Jersey parishes.  Each entry comprises the text of the memorial inscription, photographs of the headstone and its surroundings. Once you have identified the record you want, you can then view a map showing the graveyard location. For more information about the online headstone database, click here for TheGenealogist.co.uk. In Ignoring Gravity, Rose searches a graveyard for the headstone of her birth mother. To read how I researched that scene, click here.  Want to know more about Ignoring Gravity? Click here to watch the book trailer. ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Trying to find the headstone of a relative? Try these
Read More

Categories: Book Love, Family history research, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity' and On Researching.

Throw Me a Book reviews ‘Ignoring Gravity’

What did Canadian book reviewer Sandra Antunovic at Throw Me a Book like about Ignoring Gravity? “The idea of what makes people a family. Is it blood relations or in fact the act of sharing ordinary as well as special moments, celebrating each other’s successes and surviving failures, and through it all loving and respecting each other”. To read Sandra’s review in full at Throw Me a Book, click here. To read what other readers are saying about Ignoring Gravity, click here. ‘Ignoring Gravity’ by Sandra Danby [UK: Beulah Press] Buy now   And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: IGNORING GRAVITY #bookreview by @throwmeabook via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1A7
Read More

Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

Going back to the Family Records Centre

One of the issues I faced when writing Ignoring Gravity was the change in technology over the years it took me to write the book. Ten long years, during which paper archives went digital, census and registry records became available online. The first draft of the book saw Rose making a trip to Myddleton Street, North London to visit the Family Records Centre in order to get a copy of her original birth certificate. I went too, to research the archive, to follow the process Rose would follow. Recently I retraced my steps, knowing the FRC did not exist, its records long since gone digital. I found it a sad procedure. I’d liked the old building, the anticipation of the Tube journey, turning the corner, walking up the steps, the loud banging of the archive drawers, the friendly atmosphere of family history researchers poring over huge volumes. Recently, with some curiosity, I went back to the very first draft to find the rough draft of the scene where Rose visits the FRC. Here it is:- It was a disappointing building. For something so momentous as the Family Records Centre, Rose had at the very least expected bay windows, Georgian steps
Read More

Categories: Book Love, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity' and On Researching.

Book review: Seeking John Campbell

This book by John Daffurn is not fiction or a memoir. It is the true story of one man’s hunt for the family of a woman he doesn’t know, which encompasses genealogical research, foot slogging, dead ends and a lot of history. This story starts with the death of this unknown woman, Isabel Grieg, in 1995. She dies intestate. The author found her name on the Bona Vacantia list of estates without heirs. His initial research, prompted by genealogical curiosity, turned into an obsession. This book is the story of that obsession, his fascination with the Campbells and a historical account which ranges from the founding of Argentina, the establishment of a Scots colony in Argentina, through the Great War and World War Two to the present day. At times it is a very fact hungry book and I found myself re-reading some passages. This was not the book I expected, instead of an ‘Heir Hunter’ style detective story, albeit true, it is instead a well-written historical account of three men – each coincidentally called John Campbell – who may be the unknown father of Isabel Greig. In discovering the stories of these three men, the author tells the history
Read More

Categories: Book Love and Family history research.