May I Introduce To You . . . Janet Few

Janet Few

I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Janet Few and her blog, The History Interpreter: presenting and preserving the past, described as, “. . . A sometimes vaguely humorous account of my various genealogical and historical activities and my chaotic life in general.” Janet was born in the South London suburbs and now resides in rural North Devon.

How Janet Got Started in Genealogy

“I have been researching seriously for 36 years (I was obviously a mere infant when I started) but I was interested from the age of seven when I was fascinated by the four generation family tree in my baby book and the collection of family photographs for my mother’s family, which include pictures of 6 of my great great grandparents.

Growing up in South London, I had a very unusual surname – Braund. Although it is more common in North Devon, I knew no one else, apart from my immediate family with the name. My known family was very small, I am an only child, an only grandchild and on three of the four sides, an only great-grandchild, so I was keen to find some relatives. There were also the usual family stories – that the Braund’s were descended from wrecked Spanish Armada sailors (rubbish) and that my mother’s Smith ancestors were related to the Smiths of Smiths’ Crisps (true but it took over twenty years and serendipity to prove it).”

Janet’s Thoughts on Blogging

“I had just published a book on seventeenth century social history ‘Coffers, Clysters, Comfrey and Coifs: the lives of our seventeenth century ancestors’ and just as I thought the hard work was over, I realized that it wouldn’t hurt if I created a website to help with the publicity. I had written a diary like column for The Isle of Wight Family History Society, of which I am President, for some time and readers seemed to appreciate tales of my exploits. I also put periodic holiday diaries (usually with a strong historical/family historical bias) on Facebook, so my daughters knew I was still alive and much to my surprise, many of my friends followed, commented on and appeared to enjoy these. So I expanded both elements into the blog. I must admit that the obligation to include ‘funny bits’ is sometimes hard to live up to but my life is decidedly quirky so there is usually something to report. Apart from the historical interpretation and of course the family history, I am involved in various community history projects and these get a mention in the blog too.”

Janet’s Favorite Blog Post

The History Interpreter’s Who Do You Think You Are? Experience – The account of my appearance on the Who Do You Think You Are? programme last August was certainly the most popular – with over 600 hits.”

How Genealogy Has Improved Janet’s Life

“It has given me an identity and contributed to my career; I also used aspects of my family history research as a springboard for my PhD thesis. It has also allowed me to become an author. I think it is important to know where you have come from and to try and understand how your ancestors lived. I am not interested in just collecting names on a tree. Family history, especially for someone with such as small immediate family, helps to create a sense of identity. Family history can bring other forms of history to life. Unlike many family historians, I have always been interested in history but I have been lucky enough to make history and family history my job.”

What Janet Loves Most About Genealogy

“The lovely people I meet are always a bonus. Many of my family history contacts have become dear friends. I realized I was addicted when I drove round the local area and could name everyone who lived there in the nineteenth century and was referring to them as if they still did so!”

Janet’s Time Capsule Message

“Harness the ‘Facebook generation.’ Inspire your descendants with a love of the history of their family and they will preserve the past for you. And put your ancestors into context – don’t just collect names and dates. Find out how they lived, what they ate, what they wore – take a walk in their shoes.”

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Please take a moment to head on over to Janet’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Janet, it’s great to have you here!

© 2013, copyright Gini Webb

Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, recently retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her now seven grandchildren!

Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Gini Webb via e-mail.

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