Sep 032014

Since the Hangout on mapping earlier this year, the Society has been discussing an initiative to develop software to map our communities. Unsurprisingly, software development does not come cheap and so, after initial discussions with Innovation Mapping, we applied for a Grassroots Giving grant from Skipton Building Society. And guess what? We’ve only been shortlisted!

They had hundreds of applications and just to get to this stage, we’ve beaten off hundreds of other applicants thanks to our ability to ‘clearly demonstrate the positive impact’ we want to make in our community.

There are 304 shortlisted groups and 161 pots of £500 that we are all vying for….. So, we need your help to get votes! We had to specify a region of England which our project related to – which of course is a little irrelevant to us! – but, as we have a postal address in Devon and the largest percentage of studies in the county, we put ourselves in the South West.

We have an individual profile for the Society and it can be seen here along with the other groups in the South West: That tells you all about our project plans and what we’ll use the money for.

Voting is live NOW and is open for just one month. Please spread the word to anyone you know (family, friends, colleagues, whoever!) so we can gain as many votes as possible…

Kirsty Gray

Sep 012014

The August Society hangout provided a focus on ‘School Days’. The presenters – myself and Kim Baldacchino, the Society’s Webmaster – provided an overview of the education system in the United Kingdom and a case study of the records available, along with some gems which can be located in the archival documents.

Looking at the various educational establishments, over the past two centuries in particular, helps to gauge the chances of finding any records of your ancestor’s schooling. Census returns refer to young people as ‘scholar’ but what type of school did they attend? A Dame School, Factor School, National School … the list is long and the record sources vary enormously.

If you know the name of the school, you may find it is still there and in possession of its own archives. Alternatively, the records may be deposited in the local studies library, county record office or, in the case of church schools, in the denomination’s archives. You can work out where your ancestor may have been educated by consulting contemporary directories.

Church of England school records may be located among other parish papers, while workhouse school records will be held with those of poor law unions. Family papers may often contain school reports, team photographs and leaving certificates.

Access to Archives is an excellent online resource providing the facility to search and browse for information about collections of records, cared for in local record offices and libraries, universities, museums and national and specialist institutions across England and Wales, where they are made available to the public. A quick search for ‘school’ and ‘Cornwall’ provides 8,220 hits of which 7,794 documents are held at Cornwall Record Office.

School Days Blog A2A

Some school registers are available on the commercial family history sites, with Findmypast publishing millions of school records (as reported on their site in October 2013):

School Days Blog Findmypast

Using her one-place study of Bratton Clovelly, Kim provided a fascinating case-study with details of the schools in the parish and some of the records she had located. Don’t count on finding name lists in the early days of public education but there is a lot of ‘context’ information which help you to get a sense of your place. After the Elementary Education Act in 1870, school boards were established with lots of rules and hence, lots of records including admission registers, school board minutes, log books, punishment books and more.

The admission registers hold the names of the attendees of the school and, more often than not, their parent/guardian, birth date, level of education and reason for leaving which helps enormously to track migration into and out of the one-place community. Kim also shared some amusing snippets from the punishment books which have helped to identify the troublemakers of her parish!

Enjoy your discoveries – you never know what you might find! If you weren’t able to join us for the Live Hangout, the recording and comments are available in the Society’s Google+ Community.

Further reading

Chapman, C.R. The growth of British education and its records, Lochin Publishing, 2nd edn (1992)

Herber, M. Ancestral Trails, Sutton Publishing (2004)

Horn, P. The Victorian and Edwardian Schoolchild, Amberley Publishing (2010)

Kirsty Gray

Aug 222014

A new Pharos online course can help you with your one-place study and family history. Led by expert genealogist Gill Blanchard, Fixed in Time and Place: Using Directories and Gazetteers in Genealogy will show you how to use historic trade and street directories, gazetteers and professional directories to reconstruct communities, and for family history. This is an in-depth look, with plenty of historical and social background as well as where to find these essential publications, online and offline.

The course starts on 15 September and runs for 3 weeks. There is a great 15% discount for all One Place Study members, meaning you pay only £28.89!

More information is available at and


Kirsty Gray

Aug 202014

Our monthly Hangout on Air this Friday at 8:00 p.m. BST will take us back to the school days of our ancestors. We will start the session with an overview of education in England, looking at the rise of public education, the many different types of schools that you may come across and what types of information may exist. This will be followed by a closer look at the public schools in one parish to see what might be learnt from the records that have survived there.

Following our introductory talk, we invite you to join in the discussion to talk about the schools of your place and what you have discovered about them. We hope to see participants from across the globe so that we can all get a better understanding of what might be found beyond the borders of England. We all have much to learn!

Industrial School

The Hangout is open to everyone – join our Google+ community, say Yes or Maybe on the Event page and add a comment there to let us know if you’d like to be in the room contributing to the discussion.

Kim Baldacchino

Aug 202014

It’s National Family History Month down under and Australian genealogy personality Jill Ball is outing herself as a Nervous Nellie when it comes to embarking on a one-place study. Looks like a perfect postcode to us, Jill!

Kirsty & Jill - looks like hard work, these genealogy cruises!

Kirsty & Jill – hard work, these genealogy cruises!

Thank you for giving me an opportunity to contribute to this blog during National Family History Month.

When I was on the Unlock the Past Genealogy cruise earlier this year I had no intention of joining the Society for One Place Studies but, as a result of Kirsty Gray’s presentation, I was hooked (the prospect of getting a badge to add to my geneabling collection was an added incentive). It wasn’t just Kirsty’s lively and convincing manner that attracted me, it was the style and structure of the Society for One Place Studies.

I liked that the Society was truly international with committee members from around the globe, I already knew and respected some of these people. That the Society has embraced technology for administration, communication and education impressed me, the Society is a trendsetter that has cemented itself in the 21st Century. I joined the Society because I wanted to put my support behind such a progressive organisation.

So here I am, an inactive member of six months standing. I have devoured information on the website, joined and watched Hangouts, subscribed to the blog, and followed the group on social media but am still not quite ready to set up a study.

Is it best to attempt a study on a locality within cooee of home where it’s convenient to visit, take pictures and check resources. Is it presumptuous of one little old Aussie lady to undertake a study in an area where she lives but has no roots? There is a local historical society and a local studies librarian at the library. Would I be treading on toes if I decided to study my suburb?

Modern-day commerce in Galston NSW

Modern-day commerce in Galston NSW

Figures from the 2011 census tell me that in 2011 the population of Galston, a semi-rural suburb in Sydney, was 2,998 and this only grew late last century when larger orchards in the area were subdivided into 5 acre lots with some small residential plots in the village. I could move the focus of my study one suburb away to Arcadia where Mr GeniAus’ family were early settlers, Arcadia only had a population of 1,305 in 2011.

With my passion for family history my inclination is to attempt a partial study concentrating on the people of Galston or Arcadia. I would mine the newspapers on Trove [Ed: Trove is awesome!], and use other online resources such as the NSW Birth, Death and Marriage Indexes, Ancestry, Familysearch and Findmypast databases as well as available print resources, the local historical society and library to build up a database of early families from the suburb. If I attack this a decade at a time it should be something I can manage.

My mother always told me that “If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” If I attempt a study I want to do it justice.

Do you think this Nervous Nellie should have a crack at Galston 2159 Australia?

Jill Ball