Thursday, May 26, 2011

CVGS Program Summary - "My Ancestors Came From England..."

The 25 May program meeting of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society featured Fred Spong, a retired physician and genealogist, presenting "My Ancestors Came From England, and That's All I Know."

Fred started off reciting his ancestry, and all he knew about his father's origins was that he was born in England in 1909.  He didn't know where.  The first lesson that he learned about English research was that you have to find the town that they came from.  He also heard a family story from his father's brother that the family was booked on the Titanic in 1912 but the children were sick with the mumps and measles, so they delayed migrating to Canada until 1914.  Fred noted that he wouldn't be here except for the mumps his father had as a child.

His mother had his father's US citizenship petition from 1926, which provided a birth date, and birthplace of Wandsworth near London.  With that information, Fred worked in the English Civil Registration indexes online and obtained his father's birth record in 1909, then his grandparents marriage record in 1906.  He then continued back in time using the Civil Registration records and the English Census records to find the ancestral families.  Before 1837, the church Parish Registers are the best resource for baptisms, marriages and burials, and Fred was able to take his Spong line back to 1720. 

In his presentation, he showed these research processes, using the  and subscription databases, ordering the civil registration (birth, marriage and death) certificates for a fee through the websites, and making use of the Family History Library microfilms for the older parish records.  It was an excellent example of using all the available resources - online databases, published books and microfilm records - to solve a research problem.

In the second part of the program, Fred described how to do surname research of a family with English ancestry, discussed the Guild of One-Name Studies (GOONS, and provided a short bibliography of American and English books that describe English social history, researching in England, origin of names, immigration records, etc.

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