It Runs In The Family: Understanding More About Your Ancestors
In the quest to uncover our family history, we turn to written records, the family album and even heirlooms. However, they can often be difficult to interpret and sometimes pose more questions than they answer: Why didn't my ancestors smile for the camera? Why did great-grandfather wear a beard while his sons were clean-shaven? Why is my great-grandmother holding flowers in this photograph? Drawing on evidence from social history, women's history, and the histories of photography, art and fashion, and using examples from the lowly as well as the famous, Ruth Symes explores many aspects of ordinary life in the past - from the state of the nation's teeth, to the legal and economic connotations of wearing a wedding ring and even the business of keeping a dog. This fascinating volume aims to help family historians get to know their elusive ancestors by deciphering the wealth of personal and historical clues contained in photographs, documents and artefacts.
It runs in the family' is an easy to read, straightforward account of how we can interpret information from documents, photographs, artefacts and heirlooms to discover our ancestors' characters and social standing. Each topic is interspersed with interesting illustrations. The book covers personal appearances and what can be discovered from studying stature, eyes, teeth, hairstyles, beards, distinguishing features and tattoos. It also explores other aspects of life including pets, fashion, perfume and clothing, even down to what we can discover from buttons!
Ruth A. Symes provides an insight into how life was in the past which helps us understand more about our ancestors as products of their time and how fashions and times influenced their lifestyle regardless of social class. In order to extend knowledge and understanding the author provides further reading lists and website addresses at the end of each chapter. After reading this book we realise the importance of giving prominence to those small matters previously overlooked that help to look at our family in a new light, uncovering information that was there but for the need of interpretation.
If you want to get to know the ancestors in your tree as individual personalities then you should find plenty of hints and information to achieve your aim. Maybe you will discover an aspect where 'it runs in the family'.
The Friends of The National Archives