One of my current research projects includes learning more about my genealogy and family history. I've been interested in this for as long as I can remember, much to the befuddlement of many of my family members ("But they're dead!" they cry every time I get starry-eyed about an ancestor). As I track clues and follow trails, this research also somewhat fulfils my childhood dream of becoming a detective. A combination of some of my favourite things: history, archives and collections, research, letters, photographs, travel, and talking to people about their life stories, it's a rewarding project that makes me forget the passage of time once I delve in.
Currently, I'm researching the Anglo-Indian branch of my family tree, following my maternal grandmother's line. Perhaps a future project will involve other lines, including stories of migration across the Indo-Pak border and the effects of Partition.
If you're a genealogist or researcher of British India or Anglo-Indian history, I would love to hear from you.
February 2016: My grandmother and I visit her parents' last home in Chunar, where I find stories, photographs, ruins, belongings, and closeness. I pay my respects to them at the cemetery. I return to Delhi, begin my research, and find an exciting lead.
December 2017: I take an online course titled Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree offered by the University of Strathclyde and FutureLearn.
January 2017: After hitting a brick wall, I research Anglo-Indian history for several months and learn more about the community, making useful connections and identifying resources.
January 2018: I find my way around various genealogy websites and begin collecting a paper trail i.e. BMD and other documents pertaining to various ancestors. I create careful notes for each person, verifying information from oral history with that from available records. I populate my family tree with confirmed and exciting new names.
March 2018: I visit my grandparents and collect stories, documents and other primary sources including letters and photographs. There are some exciting finds.
April-May 2018: I create an inventory, sort, archive, and digitise nearly 200 photographs and negatives for the collection.
May 2018: I research the history of the Indian railways, where two of my great-grandfathers worked for their entire careers.
December 2018: I research the history of the Indian telegraph, where two of my great-great grandfathers were employed.
November 2018: I research tips and lectures on exploring the female line of the family tree, and research the lives of several female ancestors via documents, letters and ephemera.
Early 2019: I research and gather more records, including some from new sources. Among these are pages from my great grandparents' school registers. I add more branches to the family tree.
May 2019: I finish compiling all my research into a 50-page book titled Three Stories, complete with images, document excerpts, and family trees, featuring three key couples and their lives - my great-grandparents, and their parents.
July 2019: I write a blog post about where it all began: Chunar, the town where my great-parents settled after retiring. Read it here.