Jun 122016

State, for each Married Woman entered on this schedule, the number of:-
Completed years the present marriage has lasted
Total children born alive to the present marriage
Children still living
Children who have died

Well, that doesn't sound too complicated, does it? Think again!

In days gone by there were fewer official government documents for the ordinary person to complete, and even if literacy was not a concern any such form was still A Big Deal. Little wonder that when faced with the UK 1911 household census form stress levels rose and panic ensued as people tried to complete the form but didn't quite manage to follow the instructions. At least, that's all I can put this kind of thing down to:

1911 census entry, where Charles has spotted his mistake and corrected it

1911 census entry, where Charles has at least realised his mistake and corrected it

I noticed that residents of my one-place study place of Wing in Buckinghamshire invariably got this wrong so did a formal review of the schedules, and of 332 married couples:

27% - Gold Star - entered correctly the first time
41% - So Close - originally entered for husband then error corrected and details transferred to wife
21% - No Women's Suffrage Here - details entered for husband rather than wife
11% - Goodness This Is Confusing - a mix, either years married for husband and children for wife or vice versa

I also give a big thank you to these women and men who provided marriage and fertility information even though this wasn't required - 33 widows, 6 widowers and 5 unmarried with children. I'm never going to argue with being given extra information, and these might be vital clues. I'm thankful that we do get to see the original schedules and can see that crossed-out information - and my enumerator seemed to feel that a married woman does not earn that status unless her husband happens to be with her on census night, and has accordingly crossed out all marriage/fertility details for women falling into that category as well.

Thanks Elizabeth - lovely penmanship, too!

Thanks Elizabeth - lovely penmanship, too!

How successful were your place's residents in following census instructions? Any other common errors you've spotted?

Alex Coles

May 312016

Picture this... Several dozen one-place studiers, all in one place. Swindon. Saturday 12th November 2016 (and even Friday 11th as well). High quality speakers from the society talking about visualising their studies. What’s not to like?

The Conference and AGM for 2016 is all planned. You can book now and, even better than that, there are several optional extras if you are able to take part…. A tour of the Historic England Archive on Friday 11th November (in the afternoon) and dinner with other society members in the evening. The venue is central to Swindon and easily accessible from the M4 as well as via public transport links. The STEAM Museum (of the Great Western Railway) and the Swindon Outlet Village are within walking distance, making this conference venue an ideal location for a short break.

This year’s Shared Endeavour is all about Visualisation and therefore, the talks are all connected with that theme. Attendees can bring along a physical presentation (we’ll have display boards and tables to present research) ... hey, it’s always great to see what other one-placers have achieved in their research to motivate our own work.

Ask Me About...Luffincott!

Ask Me About...Luffincott!

You do not have to be a member to attend the conference but the financial difference between attending as a member and as a non-member is equivalent to membership for a year – nothing to lose and everything to gain!

We look forward to meeting you all in November – new faces and friends of old. Book now to avoid disappointment!

Kirsty Gray

May 222016

This month Janet Few led an interesting online session on involving young people in your one-place study.

Many hands make light work, and although some of those hands might be a bit young to undertake many of the tasks we do as part of our studies, getting any children in your life familiar with history might just lead them on a path to being a willing and able helper one day. This is definitely a long-term game.

The children in question don't even have to be in your life, or physically to hand. Technology means that you can interact with young relatives far away and can work together online on shared activities. Exploiting the internet and keeping things visual is essential for this generation.

If you don't live in your place, have you thought about whether the children of that place could be a resource? Consider working with school groups. Students may be required to undertake local history projects, older history students will hopefully be willing to get involved (also art, drama and English students whose creative juices may be fired by by some of the stories you can tell them), and schools and all manner of youth groups will probably be excited to have someone like you trigger a project like that. Talk to the local teachers to see if you can work together for everyone's benefit.

There are of course special talents and skills involved in "working" with children. It has to be fun! Janet's suggestion for very young children is to talk (and hopefully display or play!) about toys that Mum and Granny played with way back when they were young. Dress-up is always fun, add an historical element - and dress-up isn't just for children as Mistress Agnes and Master Christopher can attest.

While this Hangout wasn't precisely an indoctrination program, it was a great and humorous introduction into some of the whys and hows of getting young people involved.

Watch the Hangout on our YouTube channel at any time. Let us know how your recruitment drive goes!

Alex Coles

May 052016

You may have noticed that the majority of active local and family history researchers fall into a particular demographic category. There are of course exceptions but should we be reaching out to younger people in order to encourage them to engage with their heritage?

At our next Hangout-on-air on Thursday 12 May, we will be exchanging ideas about why and how we might share our one-place study with a new generation of researchers. Whether you are a lone one-placer or part of a community history group, this is an issue that should concern you. We put an enormous amount of time, effort and money into our research and we need to ensure that it will be preserved and enhanced when we are no longer able to be its custodian.

This session will be led by Janet Few who works with young people in an historical context, both professionally and voluntarily. Her booklet Harnessing the Facebook Generation: ideas for involving young people in family history and heritage (Unlock the Past Publications) is due out shortly.

We will be starting at 9.30am British Summer Time. Do join us, or watch afterwards on YouTube. Here is the link you will need.

Apr 302016

This April we have once again been blogging along with the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Our team of one-place studiers have shared some of the treasures to be found for a one-place study, particularly around the theme of Visualisation, our Shared Endeavour for 2016. View them all! And now, our final entry...

Well, it is time to talk about the last letter of the alphabet for this year – those of a less-charitable mind may think that the blogging team had already started celebrating when we thought of the subject for this last letter! However there is method behind this choice. As humans we thrive on novelty and we love trivia, so I would like you to think about what you can say about your place that makes it unusual or different? What is there beyond the facts and figure that makes one go "Really?", "Well I didn’t know that!" or "I want to know more".

I am currently reading a book entitled "Behind the scenes at the Museum of Baked Beans – My Search for Britain’s Maddest Museums" (Hunter Davies, 2010) and along with the museum of the title, there are also museums mentioned devoted to ladies' fans, lawnmowers, salt, sheep, money, packaging and about a dozen others. Bill Bryson in his book "The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America" (1999) visits one small town, where the single mile-long main street boasts "the Elvis Presley Hall of Fame, a Wax museum, two haunted houses, the National Bible Museum, Hillbilly Village, Ripley's Believe or Not, a Space Needle, something called Paradise Island, World of Illusions, a Country Music Show, Police Museum" and the list goes on! - I doubt very much whether the places that most of us study have anything like these and wouldn’t it be great if they did?

However, there are a great number of books that list the quirky and unusual things in our towns and villages. Some are walking guides, some tours of the area by car and some are just places of interest – have you checked to see if your place has that odd USP that would fit the bill?

So tell us the odd, notable or strange thing about your place. Tell us what would make you stop and think. You may not hit the zany, but the unusual, quirky, interesting and intriguing is out there...

Steve Pickthall