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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree June 2019 > Windows into the past

Windows into the past

When Valerie Brenton started as a volunteer researcher on ‘Unlocking the Bankes Archive’ little did she realise how many totally unrelated families would come to fascinate her and bring to life the economic and social history of a small area of East Dorset



Once research has exhausted the Victorian plethora of information online, finding out what your ancestor did for a living or how much they were paid becomes a lot more challenging. A solution may be visiting an archive and exploring records that have been deposited by the families who owned the land in the parish where you believe that your ancestors were baptised, married or buried.

Exploring mainly Georgian and Victorian records, which have fairly uninviting catalogue descriptions such as estate vouchers or accounts ledger, opened a whole new window onto the lives of those who worked for the Bankes family.

The discoveries detailed in this article are all from the Bankes Archive – comprising more than 30,000 items – which is held at the Dorset History Centre in Dorchester.

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About Family Tree

What is it about family history that's captured your imagination? Whether you're seeking the story of your WW2 veterans who fought at D-Day, or tracing your tree across continents to bring your family back together again, we've got a host of advice and tales to help and inspire you: 1. Gen up on your ancestors' role in D-Day (75 years ago this June). 2. Discover how to use DNA, combined with the paper records, to trace family worldwide. 3. Learn about the top 10 genealogy sins - and how to repent and become a better family history sleuth! Plus DNA tips, reader stories, expert advice on your questions and brickwalls, and so much more... - including that all-important topic of 'How to write your family history'! Enjoy