I’ve just arrived home from the annual Conference & AGM of the Family and Community Historical Research Society (FACHRS pronounced like ‘Fackers’) in Leicester. It was a weekend well spent learning from excellent speakers and meeting lots of interesting researchers. As they describe themselves: ‘Our voluntary nation-wide research projects provide a forum for the sharing of information, expertise and a means of learning about alternative methods and sources.’
So what’s this got to do with the Society for One-Place Studies? FACHRS just happens to be doing a Faith project in 2017-18 called ‘Communities of Dissent’, led by Project Director Dr Kate Tiller of Oxford University. As members of the Society, we can freely piggyback on our Chair’s FACHRS membership and take advantage of the wealth of online resources, expert direction, conferences and other gatherings offered by FACHRS. With FACHRS researchers studying 50 places across England, Wales and Scotland, you should be able to find people who share some of your own interests. I was so impressed with everyone that I went ahead and paid for a membership but there was no pressure to do so.
The first phase of the project is now underway with the aim of everyone delivering a profile of non-conformity in their place by September. The speakers this weekend gave us lots to think about and included:
- Dr Kate Tiller who helped us to think more about the profile of non-conformity each of us is trying to deliver and asked us to consider how the social and institutional character of a place might be reflected in its experience of dissent.
- Dr Bob Schofield who shared his investigation of the social composition of Scar Top Sunday School in Yorkshire. In a separate session, Bob also engaged us in an interesting exercise of nominal record linkage, joining non-conformist baptism records to census records.
- Dr Christine Seal who focused on Methodism in the Durham Dales, using such sources as the occupations of those who signed the 1851 religious census returns.
- Frances Richardson, a PhD student studying non-conformity in North Wales. Frances identified some strong differences between the Welsh and English experience, but some of her findings seem familiar to what I’ve seen in southwest England.
- And then just a bit of time to ask questions and get better acquainted with the speakers and our fellow researchers. How the weekend flew by!
In Phase 2 of the project, we’ll be choosing themes such as architectural, social, cultural or other perspectives which interest us to delve more deeply into our communities. My head is already spinning with ideas. Don’t hesitate to contact Janet or myself if you’d like to engage with the FACHRS project.