Family History Articles
Articles from "Discover My Past"
- The Poor Law
- What secrets our ancestors' autograph books might reveal
- Romany Collections at Leeds and Liverpool
- Destination Unknown
- Pity the Poor Lodger
- Jewels of the British Library: Discover your ancestors in the India Office Records
- Spinners, Weavers and Coal-Miners' Daughters
- The National Fairground Archive
- A Mine of Information
- A Date with the Past
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Michelle Higgs investigates poor relief before and after 1834
Ruth A Symes asks what secrets our ancestors' autograph books might reveal
Rachel Bellerby looks at two outstanding research centres
Emma Jolly looks at the records of wartime evacuees. Operation Pied Piper was the government’s codename for the evacuation of millions during the Second World War. Such amass movement of people was unknown in British history and its impact lingers in survivors today. Whilst many vulnerable people were moved, the majority were children, packaged with brown labels. They were given spare clothing, fruit, and perhaps chocolate for their journey – destination unknown. Although some children were evacuated overseas (notably Canada), this article focuses on children who were evacuated from and to homes in England.
Ruth A Symes considers the strangers who lived amongst our kin. Whilst researching your ancestors on the 19th-century censuses, you may occasionally have been surprised to find that some of them shared their homes with people who were not kin. Conversely, you may have discovered that one or more of your ancestors spent time out of the family home living in with another family in a different part of the British Isles.
Emma Jolly explains how to use records of the Asia, Pacific & Africa Collections (APAC) in London to learn more about ancestors who lived in south Asia. The British Empire affected the lives of our ancestors in England, the UK and across the world. India was the Imperial "Jewel in the Crown", and central to trade and military strategy. From the late 17th century to 1948, sizeable records were created which documented the lives of UK and Irish citizens, plus other Europeans and Asians, living and working in and around India. Most of these documents are held in London, in the APAC Reading Room of the British Library.
John Hannavy looks at working life over 100 years ago "It's a moral issue," the Reverend Chubb said. "The sad truth is that Wigan is the most degraded city in England. The cause is not the men, who are the coarser sex. The reason is the women of Wigan, who are so unlike their softer gender anywhere, except perhaps in Africa or along the Amazon. Earnshaw tells me he has seen picture cards sold in London, sordid cards for low tastes, of French ‘models 'and Wigan pit girls. Their notoriety makes them more brazen."
Rachel Bellerby finds out about fairground life and how to trace your showmen ancestors. If your ancestors once travelled the country as part of a fairground or circus show, you'll find plenty to interest you at the National Fairground Archive. The archive, which has just celebrated its fifteenth anniversary, is part of the Special Collections and Archive Division of the University of Sheffield Library. Through its links with the Fairground Association of Great Britain and the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain, who have both donated material, the archive can claimto be the leading repository for material relating to the British fairground and amusement industries.
Sue Wilkes examines records from the coal industry Coal has long been valued as a fuel source. The industrial revolution greatly increased demand for coal. It was used to smelt iron and generate steam, and coal production in Britain rocketed from six million tons per annum in 1770 to 23 million tons in 1830. By the mid-1850s production was over sixty million tons per annum. Mines were sunk ever deeper to meet the demand. But coal's success story had a terrific human cost: thousands of men, women and children were killed down the mines and at the pit brow.
John Hannavy helps you to date your family photographs. "I wish we knew who most of these people were," said a friend as we discussed the beautiful images in several family albums. When assembling a family tree, the urge to marry names up with pictures is irresistible - particularly when using some of the sophisticated family tree software now available at low cost. Certainly as far as pictures taken before the First World War are concerned, dating them roughly is relatively straightforward. Dating them more precisely is usually dependent on family histories themselves, but just having an approximate date for the photograph can often start the ball rolling and lead to a positive identification.