House History, Historic Newspapers and other Research

Still overwhelmed by all the Who Do You Think You Are? fall out and contacts – over 1000 website hits now. My fame may even last until Wednesday when the next episode is shown! Time to leave behind the celebrity status and get back to the day job. Most of today was spent preparing a House History course for Clovelly Community Archive Association next month. I am wondering what possessed me to book quite so many talks for September. One of those ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’ things.

I really need to write up the results of recent research commissions, so much history, so little time. Not that my latest research trip was an unmitigated success. Looking for an obituary in the local newspapers in a specific month should have been straightforward, shouldn’t it? Someone’s law dictated that the one page I needed had somehow escaped the scanning process. Do the Record Office hold the originals? The dreaded law strikes again – no. Whilst on the subject of old newspapers I should mention that I enjoyed looking at samples of old newspapers kindly sent me by Historic Newspapers. Seeing what happened on certain days in history helps to provide that all important context for family history. They also do teaching packs – always keen on anything that can help me encourage young people to take an interest in history. I can even give you a discount code should you want to order any – 15TODAY – they hold UK and US titles including some regional papers. Perhaps I should ask if they have my missing page!

Next research task involved looking at microfilm of some burial registers. I did notice one for the pre 1813 period that had a strange printed format, including columns for age, cause of death and parents’ names – just a shame that the incumbent hadn’t filled most of them in. Next, another burial register, totally illegible microfilm this time and yes you’ve guessed it, the originals are held elsewhere. Refraining from any tendency to seek out the nearest wall against which to bang my head, I moved on. Looking out some unusual Clovelly items including a list of the poorest inhabitants of Clovelly from the 1820s that will be interesting to transcribe. There are caustic comments against each name – even better. Did I bring my camera so I could photograph this? No. Can it be photocopied? No. Ah well better luck next time.

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