Apr 182015

In the US, land is divided differently depending on the part of the country. Sometimes the land is plotted by land marks.  For example, it is not unusual for a property description to plot land from a tree, to the edge of a brook, to the big rock and back along the land of Mr. Smith to the tree.  In other places, the land is divided by plats.  Trying to triangulate where your place is and perhaps even who lived on the particular piece of land or reconstructing a neighborhood takes a bit of knowledge about how the land is divided.  The Bureau of Land Management, the regional Registry of Deeds, or the National Archives will all have records and maps of the land.  

Christine Sharborough

Apr 172015

O is for One-Place Studies, of course! Here are some top resources for learning more about the world of one-place studies, in order of geographical distance:

Stay right where you are and keep reading this blog – you'll find regular posts about the field of one-place studies and topics dear to the heart of one-place studiers. Don't worry, we don't always post as frequently as during April when the A-Z Blogging Challenge spurs us into near-daily action, but each week you can learn a little more about one-place studies from our blog. Add us into your favourite blog RSS reader or subscribe via email (there's a lovely brown button at the top of the blog for this) so you don't miss a post.

Meander up to that menu bar there and visit the rest of the Society for One-Place Studies website. You can learn more about us and what we do, what we offer members, and read our Articles section. Then head to our YouTube channel to watch videos with fellow one-place studiers.

Next, curl up on your couch with your freshly-acquired copy of Putting your Ancestors in their Place: a guide to one place studies by Dr Janet Few. Janet's currently the Chair of the Society and boy, does she know her stuff! This book was published in 2014 so is right up to date and has a ton of information and ideas about undertaking a one-place study. For more info and to order the book visit Janet’s website at https://thehistoryinterpreter.wordpress.com/publications/.

Where in the world would you like to learn about? Find websites for one-place studies in your region of interest by checking out the Studies section of the Society's website. For example, you can visit my study page about Wing in Buckinghamshire at http://one-place-studies.org/europe/england/buckinghamshire/wing/ (a very quick read) then my study's website at http://www.wing-ops.org.uk/ (much much more to see). Get out there, see the world online and learn about one-place studies by seeing a study in action.

Alex Coles

Apr 172015

British National Newspapers

British National Newspapers

Whether paid-for or free, newsprint or electronic, newspapers are ephemeral - read today and in the recycling, lining the cat litter tray or disappeared into the ether tomorrow depending on the format. They provide a snapshot of the nation or local area at a particular time - politics, people, social events, gossip and soon forgotten.

Newspapers were first taxed in 1712 and the tax steadily increased as the UK government became concerned about the freedom of the press.

Newspapers became more popular in the mid 1800's when newspaper tax was repealed in 1855 and paper duty in 1861. This brought newspapers more within the reach of the wages of a working class household.

The ease of finding information in newspapers often depends what you are looking for and how you access archive copies. If you are looking for a particular event on a known date then looking through individual editions at a record office or on-line is not a great challenge - bearing in mind that a story that has a wider interest or curiosity value may be reported in newspapers outside the local area and some time after the event.

For a wider search for your place it is possible to go through edition after edition, page by page, but indexes are invaluable and will save a lot of trawling through page after page whether on screen, microfilm or physical newspaper.

There are a number of partial indexes on-line some are free, some paid-for and most national newspapers have paid for archives - the Times Index goes back to 1790. My county library allows users to access it from home and some libraries provide access from within the library. Part of the Times Index (Palmers Index to the Times) has been added to archive.org as part of Google Books

The most useful site is the British Newspapers Archive (http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/). It is a paid-for site, but the index is free. When I looked for my place (New Fishbourne) there were over 5,000 entries ranging from 1750-1999 (with the majority in the 19th Century) with publications ranging from the "Aberdeen Journal" to the "Yorkshire Post & Leeds Intelligencer", of course with Sussex based newspapers listed somewhere in between.

Findmypast has a partial index of the British Newspapers Archives, but is also a paid for service (again check if available in your local library). Findmypast also has some Irish and US Newspapers included in the index.

Australian users have the excellent Trove site (http://trove.nla.gov.au/) which is free. For the USA, check the Free Newspaper Archives site (http://www.freenewspaperarchives.us/) as there are links to copies of a large number of mostly local newspapers.

So what can you find - as always it depends. For my site I have found reports of crime (theft, assault, bigamy, attempted murder), birth marriages and deaths, pastimes (flower shows, meetings, sports - the local football team lost against Havant), arrival of the railway (and some accidents), council rates, turnpike tolls (and reports of evasion), history of building the local waterworks, weather (and especially when extremes caused damage to property or people), the price of goods in the shops, obituaries and reports of funerals - the list is endless! Just try not to spend too much time reading the (archive) news, instead of working on your study :-)

Steve Pickthall

Apr 152015

Our joint project this year is focussing on the topic of migration. Each participant is tailoring the activities to their own needs, working through some of the suggestions on our Inspirations Sheets (which can be downloaded from our members’ area) and sharing their journey through the project.

Migration has had an impact on all of our places. Clearly, total populations are altered by movement in and out of an area but consider who is moving in and out. Does your place lose large numbers of young workers? Or can you identify particular ethnic groups entering your place? How would that have affected life for the community at the time?

Some of us are tracing the stories of individual migrants. What motivated them to move? What was attracting them to your place? Or prompting them to leave it? Then there is methodology – how are you tracing your migrants and recording information? What sources have you found useful for migration research? Can you share these with other members? For example, many of my emigrants go to Canada so I have found this site, enabling searches of Canadian Land Grants, very helpful.

This brings me to the potential for exchanging information with other researchers. I have already found another OPSer whose place experiences similar migration patterns to those in my own. Maybe one of your migrants moved to a place studied by another member. This is a great opportunity for sharing information.

When you have done some research on migration in your place how will you present what you have found? What are the best methods of depicting migration paths or trends? Could you make a presentation, or mount a display, at our conference on 21 November 2015? Even if you cannot attend in person you can send display material.

There are many questions in this blog but few answers. For some answers and probably yet more questions, join in or watch our April hangout-on-air, which will be at 8.00pm BST on Friday 24 April. We hope that members will be sharing their progress and stumbling blocks so far. We will also be talking about different ways of illustrating our findings.

Janet Few

Apr 142015

Example of a plat map

Example of a plat map

Earlier in the month we mentioned the National Archives and the Library and Archives of Canada as places to find land records. In the U.S. the records of the Bureau of Land Management are found at the National Archives here: http://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/049.html

Land records for a person within a town or city in the US are located at the county level usually. Check the state's website, link to the county of interest (make sure the timeperiod covers the county or else you risk looking in the wrong place); and then see where the local Registry of Deeds is located. They have land ownership maps and/or plat books (depending on the part of the U.S. in which you are researching) that are very helpful for getting a lay of the land so to speak.

Christine Sharbrough