Pitfalls & Possibilities, by Pauline M. Litton Pitfalls and Possibilities  
in family history research
  The author, Pauline M. Litton
by Pauline M. Litton, MBE
If your ancestors are proving elusive and the records are not where you expected, or do not contain the information you anticipated, then Pitfalls and Possibilities is the book for you. Based on a series of articles with the same title published in Family Tree Magazine, updated and expanded, it is not a book on ‘how to do your family tree.’ Rather it suggests unexplored avenues and additional sources which you may not have considered. Possible errors and omissions in original records, transcriptions and indexes – often caused by poor handwriting, inconsistent spelling and regional accents – are described and illustrated. Family history is like a game of snakes and ladders and this book should help you to reach the final square.
• She was born in 1839 so she must be registered at the GRO.
• Of course they were married… .
• He was 80 when he died so he was born in ... .
• I knew her as Auntie Gladys; she must be my mother’s or father’s sister.
• She was called little Cis so she must have been Cicely or Cecilia.
• She’s described as his mother-in-law in the 1851 census; she must be his wife’s mother.
• They both said they were 21 on their marriage certificate so they were both born in ... .
• My name is Blomiley; Blummelie, Brimiley & Bromley are nothing to do with my family.
290 pages. Illustrated. 170 x 245mm.
ISBN: 978-0-9553450-1-2
Price £11.99
(by post - £13.95 UK; £17.25 Overseas Surface)
Swansong Publications:
2 Florence Road, Harrogate HG2 0LD, UK
Date of publication: 23 February 2010
Now out of print, see below for CD and download options
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• The minister wrote my ancestor’s name as Amery in the marriage register and he must be correct. What if my ancestor did sign as Emery?
• My great grandfather left his son only one shilling in his Will; they must have fallen out.

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Pauline Litton was awarded the MBE for services to Family History and Genealogy in the New Year's Honours List for 2013. She has an honours degree in history. She started researching her family history back in 1968 – before the days of family history societies and computers – and has continued that interest ever since. She has lectured and written extensively on family history and also worked as a professional genealogist. She was editor for the Basic Facts series of family history guides for the Federation of Family History Societies, as well as being the author of several of them; she was editor of their in-house journal Family History News and Digest from 1982–1988 and is a Vice-President of the FFHS. She was genealogical consultant to Family Tree Magazine from 1991–2001 and this book is based on a highly acclaimed series of articles (bearing the same title) written for FTM during this period. The material has been extensively updated to reflect the many changes in family history research, particularly with the advent of the internet, in recent years. Pauline has been editor for family history societies in Cheshire and Yorkshire and is currently president of Harrogate & District FHS. When editor of the North Cheshire Family Historian, the society won the FFHS’ Elizabeth Simpson Award for the journal making the best contribution to family history. She also spent 20 years working on a marriage index for Cheshire. She has been secretary of the Parish Register Section of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society for 18 years.
… successfully incorporates hundreds of helpful facts to benefit every family historian. This book is a must for any reader who not only enjoys genealogical challenges but their resolution as well.
Dr Colin Chapman FSG, author of the Chapmans Records Cameos series.

… the author’s meticulous observations demonstrate just how important it is to understand the quite remarkable range of errors perpetrated by those who created the records. The numerous mistakes and ambiguities are analysed and illustrated with examples from original documents. The reader is alerted to the risk of misunderstanding the entries because of poor handwriting, inconsistencies in spelling, regional accents and non-compliance with ecclesiastical and civil regulations.
Derek Palgrave FSG, Vice President, Federation of Family History Societies.

Pauline Litton, for those who do not know her, is one of the most distinguished names in the UK genealogical world, a vice-president of the Federation of Family History Societies, author of numerous genealogy books and probably hundreds of articles, and a well known and eminent lecturer. She is also the doyenne of Yorkshire family historians and researchers. I have chaired her lectures several times and, believe me, what she doesn't know about genealogy (and especially Yorkshire genealogy) isn't worth knowing.
I wish Pauline the very best of luck with this book.
Roy Stockdill, former Editor, the Journal of One-Name Studies; Editor, "My Ancestors Were..." series (Society of Genealogists)

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