Opening a can of worms….

8 July 2015

When you start tracing your family history, what do you hope to find out? The names of your 2 x great-grandparents? Where your surname originated? Whether the family legend is myth or fact? Sometimes you can find things you weren’t expecting and you can open up a can of worms.

Of course, it’s your choice if you want to open the can. You might be mildly aware of something in your ancestral past and decide not to delve deeper. Often you can find things you weren’t expecting. How do you deal with the information you find? You might want to pass it on to family members…. but how will they take the news you are sharing?

Today, I visited Surrey History Centre (SHC). I seemingly failed to remember that I now live and work in Wiltshire and hence, I totally underestimated the time it takes to get from home (not Reading but Calne) to Woking. Oops! Also, the traffic was more challenging than I had expected but the less said about that the better.

The reason for my journey was to search the Brookwood Asylum records. Having located an entry of interest on Ancestry, I had emailed ahead to check what other archival material they held at SHC and was delighted to find a lot of information was available relating to the individual in question. Photographing his pages from the ‘Male Case Book‘, I noticed some other fascinating entries in the bound book and took images of various other records which will make for interesting research projects and hopefully, stories for the future.

How would you feel if you found out that one of your ancestors was in an asylum? Would you want to find out more? Or would you just leave that can unopened? Over the years, I have found historical information for clients which has been challenging to know how to deal with. Ethically, do you lay it all out there…. ? Or are there some stories you uncover which might be best left where they are….? An interesting dilemma….

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