I'm Helen Begley. I'm a musician, a songwriter and lately, a new family historian. I'm currently studying a Diploma of Family history at the University of Tasmania. I've started this website as a way to share my research and stories about Florence Best and Percy Begley's branch of my family tree, and connect with family near and far.
Photo by Carly Ellis
Think of this website as an online dining table where stories are shared in the presence of a big extended family.
Storytelling has always been at the heart of my family. My grandparents, Florence Best and Percy Begley, were generous storytellers, passing on family anecdotes from earlier times and gossip about their own and other family members lives. My parents and my aunts and uncles still love sitting around a table for hours catching up with each other and sharing stories. My brothers, sister and cousins are great talkers. They are never short of a word, a story, an hilarious anecdote or a deep, connected conversation. I often sit enthralled by the exchanges that fly around the table.
I'm one of the lesser talkers. I don't have the quick wit gifted to some of my family. I'm the one laughing along. Someone has to supply the laughter. I am the eldest grandchild of Florence Best and Leo Austin Begley, the eldest daughter of their eldest son, Frank. Pop Psychology suggests that eldest children tends to be interested in engaging with and passing on tradition. This may be true. The family historian of my father's generation is Keith Begley, an eldest son and grandchild. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I'm drawn to researching and documenting our family history.
Perhaps it is my personality type. I find it exciting to trawl through vital and historical records to find out about the quiet, long departed ancestors. I love the Eureka moment when answers are revealed to burning questions. I love the connections I’ve made to elder living relatives who have been studying the family for decades. I love testing the veracity of stories that have become part of the family culture. I love discovering details about the lesser-known ancestors. I love the way the new details can challenge assumptions and shift perspectives.
Perhaps it is because it aligns with my creative life . I'm a songwriter and find my musical home in the Australian folk scene. This is a scene rich in story, egalitarian in structure, and centred in community. The folk scene recognizes and celebrates history and stories about everyday people. It is a natural home for a family historian.
Perhaps researching, writing about and collecting family history is a confluence of birth order, creativity, curiosity and a family culture of conversation and storytelling. Perhaps, I’ve just hooked into the biggest hobby in the world at a time when we are locked down and I need to stay connected to family. Perhaps, it's all of these things. Perhaps, I just love a bloody good story and my grandparents. Hx