09 February 2011

Feeding my addiction

My name is Annie and I’m addicted to genealogy!

There’s no other way to describe it. Although I have tried to cure my addiction and I’ve been clean for as long as six months at a time, I just keep falling off the wagon. At times in the past, I have been a driven woman!

If someone sent me a new snippet of information, I had to follow up on it. If I learnt of a new website, I had to search it. If I came across a long lost relation, I had to contact them to find out everything they knew.

I’m sure this sounds like some kind of obsessive, compulsive behaviour and, no doubt, a shrink could attach a fancy label to it. But my addiction has produced many positive results. Spending all my spare time on genealogical research for two years, back in 2004 – 2005, resulted in two books, A Good Man with Dogs and A Good Scotch Shepherd, the second co-written with two cousins. I also now have a database containing over 12,000 names and more than 2gb of information, as well as 12 folders bulging with certificates, wills and other documents, and photos. I can state with almost absolute certainty that I am half English, 7/16ths Scottish and 1/16th Irish, and I can trace one branch of my father’s family back to great great great great great great great great great grandfather Thomas Bust who was farming in Lincolnshire, in England, at the turn of the 17th century.

For the last five years I’ve been too busy doing other things to spend much time on genealogy but, from time to time, I still need to feed my addiction. Like last weekend. When the distant cousin who bought my last copy of A Good Scotch Shepherd sent me some additional details about her branch of my maternal grandfather’s family, I had to update my database. In the process of doing that I noticed I didn’t have the death details for her grandparents, so then I had to check to see whether the town where they had lived had digitised its cemetery records. And then, when I located the cemetery database online, I had to check it for all my other relations who had lived in that town.

Two hours later, I had a sore back and scratchy eyes … ah, but I also had the delicious buzz of satisfaction that came from having added about 60 new pieces of information to my database. I almost … almost started searching for more cemetery databases, but I managed to stop myself … just. It was difficult but over the years I have managed to get some control over my addiction.

But, right now, I just have one small thing I absolutely must check …