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Tracing Your Marginalised Ancestors (Paperback)

A Guide for Family Historians

Family History P&S History > Reference P&S History > Social History

By Janet Few
Imprint: Pen & Sword Family History
Series: Tracing Your Ancestors
Pages: 208
Illustrations: 30 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399061858
Published: 15th February 2024


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Often, our most fascinating ancestors are those on society’s margins. They might have been discriminated against due to personal misfortune, or have been a victim of society’s fear of difference. You may have ancestors who were poor, or sick, illegitimate, or lawbreakers. Were your family stigmatised because of their ethnicity? Perhaps they struggled with alcoholism, were prostitutes, or were accused of witchcraft. This book will help you find out more about them and the times in which they lived.

The nature of this book means that it deals with subjects that can make uncomfortable reading but it is important to confront these issues as we try to understand our ancestors and the society that led to them becoming marginalised. In Tracing your Marginalised Ancestors, you will find plenty of suggestions to help you uncover the stories of these, often elusive, groups of people. Will you accept the challenge to seek out your marginalised ancestors and tell their stories?

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely accurate and valuable for anyone conducting genealogical research lacking a thorough view of the archival reality that could be accessed (e.g., prison archives, care homes, asylums; archival records scattered around national archives that one might not have considered). Each chapter concludes with a real-life example: true stories of people "like many others," albeit more unfortunate, whose histories the archives can reveal to us. An excellent encouragement to delve deeper: in some cases, our marginalized ancestors can tell us much more than those who were fortunate enough to lead such ordinary lives that they disappear into the oblivion of the centuries.

NetGalley, Lucia Graziano

Many TV shows and books about geneology tend to focus on the people whose ancestors were royalty or landed gentry. They pose no challenge at all to research.

Far more interesting to many of us is this book about marginalised ancestors. These were people who were poor, sick, illegitimate; lawbreakers, or just discriminated against.

I was particularly interested to read it because in my family tree I have a few marginalised ancestors who were illiterate, ended up in workhouses or alms houses, or had unmarked graves because they were poor. I was interested to read Janet Few's tips on how to find their stories.

It's a fascinating book. Each chapter ends with the story of a marginalised person. I now have more reference sources to flesh out the notes in my family tree on some of my long forgotten ancestors.

NetGalley, Gail Hanlon

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is well-researched and is a great addition to genealogy research and I highly recommend it.

NetGalley, Lynda Peach

A Great genealogy book on finding your hard to find ancestors who weren't part of the main stream so to speak. Great edition to any genealogy library.

NetGalley, Carissa Miller

This was a truly fascinating look back through history via our ancestors who were not princes or doctors or knights. The book was organized into different sections based on different reasons some groups were marginalized, such as because they were poor, disabled, or of the wrong ethnicity. Every section has a wealth of information about the history and conditions related to each subject.
What makes this book really interesting is that the sections ended with basically a case study where a particular person's history is traced and readers can learn what kind of sources make that possible. This would be really helpful for someone learning to do genealogy, especially because most of our ancestors probably didn't stand out much.

NetGalley, Lisa Davidson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I needed this!
My great great* grandmother left her husband in England and stole away to America with her parents and other mormon converts. She tole his two children by making the boy dress like a girl.
Once she got here she pretended she was a widow. But he was still alive and living. Apparently he was an alcoholic. The story could be way off though. Maybe he just didn't want to convert to mormonism.
Essentially the family forgot about him.
I needed to know more and this book helped!

NetGalley, Jamie Carter Park

About Janet Few

Janet Few is an author and educator who has been on a quest to uncover and preserve the stories of her ancestors since she was a child. She has a particular interest in those who are overlooked by history and is a co-founder of the A Few Forgotten Women project, which seeks to tell the stories of marginalised women.

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