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A Viking in the Family: And Other Family Tree Tales Hardcover – 1 Sep 2011

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (1 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752457721
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752457727
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 1 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 956,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


This book is full of the sort of little tales of family history I love reading in Family Tree Magazine and the like. This is a dip-in book, not to be read all in one go (although it's difficult not to). Each little tale, which are usualy about two or three pages long, has a section called 'The Tale behind the Tale', which gives some background history and more general points. Most of the tales are written by Kevin Gregson about his own family, but quit a few are written by other people. There are a wide variety of family tales, from a shopping list of 1718, to a Jack the Ripper suspect. I did experience some family heritage envy, especially 'The Ancestral Recipe Book'. The lady who wrote this tale has a family recipe book going back 150 years. (Mine only goes back to the early 1900s, and then most of the recipes were written on scraps of paper and stuck in in old cookery books). A gentleman from North Carolina took a DNA test and found, much to his surprise, that he had English and not German ancestry, as his family tradition had it. More than that he had Viking/Anglo-Norman blood running his veins too. (This gentleman is the 'A Viking in the Family' of the book's title). Another gentleman was a descendant of a poet known in his lifetime as the 'Cumberland Bard', a dialect poet of the early nineteenth century. There are also tales of a trooper from the Imperial Yeomanry who had a narrow escape from a Boer bullet which passed through his hat, but not his head, and who later wrote about his experiences in the newspaper he edited, and a Northumberland woman who died in a snow storm in the Cheviots in 1863. The last section of the book is called 'How to Find Your Own Interesting Ancestors'. Here the editor goes through all the sources available: Oral Sources ('talk to as many older members of the family as possible'), Written Sources (both primary and secondary sources) and Objects as Sources. This last sub-section interested me because I and my cousins have a number of objects illustrating the history of our family, in particular a silver spoon and a mug which indicate a time of relative hope and prosperity in the family when it moved from Tadcaster to York in about 1800. The sub-section 'he Problems with sources' could have been retitled 'Witting and Uwitting testimony', since it reiterates part of the mantra of our late President Arthur Marwick about all types of sources - who wrote or said it, why and where. Mr Gregson cites Royal Commissions where 'mill and mine children chosen for interview had to be persuaded out of their Sunday best' and Barnardos 'Before' and 'After' photographs of the same child taken on the same day. This section continues with 'Can We Really Discover what our Ancestors were Like?'. 'Why do we Become Involved in Family History' (because many of us are so curious about our ancestors, and even other people's ancestors), 'What are the Key Links between Family History and Other Forms of History?', and 'What do these Case Studies Teach Us about Good Practice?' In this part Mr Gregson says: 'Family history has, in the past, been regarded as a poor relation of 'real' history. As a trained social historian I have always disputed this view and it is now time for family historians to stand up and be counted'. As an untrained historian, with a great interest in local family history as well as my own family's history, I agree. I enjoyed reading this little pocket sized book. If I wasn't already researching a number of interesting ancestors, I would be galvanised by it to reseach them. --Journal of the Open History Society

About the Author

KEITH GREGSON taught history in schools for thirty years and now researches and writes feature articles for a number of family history and general history magazines. He is the author of Tracing Your Northern Ancestors (Pen & Sword, 2007). He lives in Sunderland.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed reading this book, Keith Gregson has written a very entertaining book. What intrigued and interested me most was that it was not written in the usual standard format of a family history book ie either a textbook detailing how to go about carrying out your own family history research ie sources etc or a detailed history of his family. It is combination of both of these along with other stories from other people's research. It is the kind of book I will enjoy dipping into from time and possibly get insights into solving some of problems I have got in my own researches.
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Format: Hardcover
I love family history and am particularly pleased with this book as it contains an account of my wonderful granda Gibson Kirk.
Mr Gregson was wholly sympathetic in his abridgement of my larger narrative, a very nice man and an enjoyable book
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