YouTube for Genealogy?!

Welcome to my first post of 2021. It is just a short(er) one to ease into the new year. I have some other posts planned, which I am very excited about! Keep on the lookout for those throughout the year! In the meantime, check out my previous posts.

YouTube and Genealogy

For today’s post then, I thought I would talk a little bit about YouTube and one particular video that I found highly interesting. Contrary to what you may think, I don’t actually have a YouTube channel, either for genealogy or for personal use. I tend to only use Twitter for Genealogy related business too. So, you can see that I am not a heavy user of social media.

Imagine my surprise then, when I discovered the world of YouTube videos a few years ago! Unsurprisingly, I have been watching more since the Pandemic began. The sheer volume of ‘stuff’ you can get is mind blowing, but I had never really considered using them with genealogy in mind. I never thought that genealogy would really lend itself to a platform which consisted of videos. The very nature of research is not really something that can be illustrated like a musical performance or even a cooking demonstration.

What kind of videos are there?

How wrong I was! Merely typing in the search term ‘genealogy’ on YouTube returns a whole host of different videos. You can find explanatory videos from the big companies such as Ancestry, which take you through a ‘how to’ of different aspects of genealogy. You can find a company (Usefulcharts) which creates charts (including family trees), who take you through various historical (and sometimes not) family trees using their chart as a visual. There is also the common theme of ‘Top ten’ videos and things to avoid when researching your family tree. Other things that pop up are historical channels that have a few genealogical videos, DNA related videos and many more. The list goes on and I would be here for quite a while if I attempted to list them all.

When it comes down to it, the best way to deal with YouTube is perhaps in a similar way to other internet and social media platforms. It has a search box, so I need to think about my search terms. What you put in is what you get out (broadly speaking). There are bound to be many more videos that are useful and relevant to genealogists, no matter what your area is. You just have to pick your search terms.

An unexpected find…

That aside, whatever algorithm YouTube uses to suggest videos to you can also bring up some surprising results. Yes, some of them are not necessarily what I would be looking for, but some do pull you in. How these videos are chosen and the technical side of things is best addressed, both in a separate post and by someone more knowledgeable about these things than I am! Suffice to say that there is one particular video that popped up for me lately that I found immensely interesting.

There are those of us in the genealogical world that have (wait for it) no London ancestors or genealogical ties at all! I know, it is positively shocking! In all seriousness though, in my case my ancestors all come from the South West of England and Wales, with some added branches in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. Most of them seemed fairly content to stay in those areas, as I have so far not come across any that made the trip to London. This means that I find understanding all things London, a bit trickier than those that live there and those who regularly find their ancestors making that journey.

woman looking at the map
Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

Exploring the London Boroughs

This is where the specific video that popped up on YouTube comes in. It was called ‘Why does London have 32 boroughs’ and was made by Jay Foreman (who is also one half of the Map Men). As well as maps being a useful source for genealogists in general, this particular video aids in the understanding of London’s boroughs and how they ended up as they are today. As a non-Londoner, I found it a very clear explanation which certainly improved my understanding. Thought should also be given here, to the fact that some videos are sponsored and therefore have adverts within them (like the Jay Foreman videos). It is personal choice as to whether you are happy with this.

The video takes you through the history of the division of London and how the difficulties of past boroughs led to the current system. It would seem that even historically, the boroughs were not considered a satisfactory system (as they were) and so needed revision. The difficulties of this revision is also explored, along with the leftovers of the old system in London today. One of my favourite examples that the video uses is that St. Marylebone Crematorium is nowhere near the St. Marylebone of today!

…and a useful one!

I won’t go into great detail here of what the video contains. It would be better watched in my opinion! But, it does address certain issues that genealogists researching in London no doubt face. The difference of the pre-1965 boroughs compared to the post-1965 boroughs is certainly something you would need to be aware of. Knowing some history behind these and the changes would help any genealogist make decisions in their research. If a person disappears from one borough, what are the neighbouring ones for instance? Could they have travelled to a neighbouring borough or would they have travelled further afield? Were there specific boroughs they may have come from or gone to depending upon their religion, occupation, societal class and even nationality? London was after all, the home of many immigrants. And, what would the boundaries and names of these boroughs have been, depending upon the time period being looked at?

Essentially, you could see London as a mini country in itself. The type of research performed and information you might need could be similar to differentiating between different counties in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland or any other country.

In conclusion…

At the end of the day though, this particular video certainly enhanced my understanding of the London borough system. I can now go to other sources for more information as well.

With that brief account in mind, I will leave you to explore YouTube for further genealogical videos that might be of use. You should still keep in mind the source of the video and the reliability of the information imparted, but it is certainly worth a look. You never know what you might find.

© 2021 Shersca Genealogy.

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