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Zena Grant

Family and local history researcher

My parents


My parents in Ramsgate, 1949


Who I am

I've been a family and local history researcher for over thirty years, 26 of those professionally. During that time I've gained extensive experience in using and interpreting the documentary sources relating to genealogy and local history.

As well as running my own research business I worked for eight years in a county record office answering research enquiries and cataloguing documents, and for five years I researched public rights of way for local government. I've been a member of the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA) since 1985. I also write for history magazines and web sites (some under the name Zena Grant Collier).

It all started when I was in my teens. I wanted to solve a family mystery: was my great grandmother really the daughter of a Duke, as she'd maintained? The search began. A family mystery or legend often seems to be the spur to take up the challenge - and what a challenge it is!

Since then I've researched the history of families, locations, manors, estates, public houses, public rights of way, enclosure awards, valuation surveys, tithe maps and much more. I've explored everything from an ancient murder to the history of a dairy, the education of young Georgian gentlemen to ancient field systems, as well as oral history relating to World War Two.

I'm also website editor for Hitchin Historical Society, I read voraciously and belong to my local philosophy group - it's always good to get a wide perspective!

I did solve the family mystery, by the way: no, my great grandmother wasn't a Duke's daughter. But in the way of these things one answer threw up several more questions. Who then was her father? Why did he not marry her mother? What was her grandfather's wheelwright 's shop like? How difficult was life for an illegitimate child in the Victorian era? Family history is so much more than names and dates. Do the questions ever end?

Probably not!

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