Chance to write your Memories – women wanted #socialhistory #familyhistory

Ok so I can’t sit on this any longer. If you have memories of all or part of the years 1946-1969 I need you. In return I can encourage you to finally get around to recording part of your life story. Go on, you know your nearest and dearest have been nagging you to ‘write it down’. If you are amongst my family history friends, just think how pleased you would be if your ancestors had left an account of their lives – you can make sure your descendants are not left wondering about your own.Janet on beach

So get out the family photo album, ransack the loft for any memorabilia, start racking the brain, tell your friends and get ready to join in. Further details can be found here.

Just so I am the first to embarrass myself, here I am in the 1950s.



Recording Memories

I am enjoying working my way through the Christmas book haul. Both my daughters provided me with hardbacks – always a health and safety issue as they fall on one’s nose when I doze off reading in bed. I have just finished the inspiring ‘The Girl on the Wall: one life’s rich tapestry’. I see it is also available in paperback or on Kindle, which would be less hazardous but might lack the illustrations, which are integral to the book. The author, Jean Baggott, born in the 1930s, constructed an elaborate tapestry illustrating memories of her own life and local and national events of the era. The book explains each image (there are more than 70). I do not have the skills or the eyesight (32 point canvas) for the sewing aspect but a wonderful framework in which to record recent family history. If you want to do likewise watch this space – I know I have said this before but I am nearly ready to explain more. Oh and while you are looking for Jean’s book on Amazon (I am NOT responsible if you can’t resist the ‘buy it now’ button) my latest publication is now there too – exciting. Also noticed that someone in Canada is trying to sell a copy of Coffers, Clysters for £60.15 – what fool would pay that when you can get new copies for £12.95?
In the days since my last post the building work has continued, if not exactly ‘apace’ at least with some progress between bouts of torrential rain. What will one day be the conservatory is currently masquerading as a swimming pool. I still lack a letter box but in theory I have said goodbye to the builders and now have to wait until next week for a different set of workmen to begin to put the glass panels in place.
Waking up at some silly hour recently I encountered a children’s TV programme called History Hunt. The approach adopted in this programme was particularly appealing. Great to watch young people engaging in research and combining this with technology. Check it out. We may be adopting a similar format as we begin to work with the local school on local history projects.
I was showing a young friend how to find a birth in the General Register Office indexes using Find My Past. Imagine my surprise, as I used my daughter as an example, at finding that her name had been indexed incorrectly. Correction has now duly been sent in.

New Book – Family Historians’ Enquire Within now available

Picture2At last, the advance copies of Family Historians’ Enquire Within have arrived. (I am still debating whether the editorial decision to move the apostrophe was the correct one – I have moved it to reflect my opinion). Those of you who have been waiting very patiently should now be able to get a copy from the publishers, Family History Partnership or I will soon have copies for sale myself. For those who aren’t familiar with this volume, last produced in 1995, it is an alphabetical pot pourri of information. Entries include sources, occupations, books, websites and much more. The idea is to cover something about almost everything the family historian might want to know and point readers in the right direction for finding more. It has my name on the cover but much of the text and hard work has been done by my illustrious predecessors who produced the earlier editions. All I have done is to update their efforts.

DSCF1288Getting copies to me was a feat of ingenuity on behalf of the delivery man. I know I promised not to harp on about the building work but currently my front door is out of action, I have no letter box and access to my remaining door is via a two foot six wide chasm. My friend was heard to accuse me of taking living history a little too seriously and she questioned why I had chosen to recreate a World War One landscape in what used to be my garden. There is a distinct resemblance to the Ypres salient and recent persistent heavy rain has not helped. I never really saw a moat as a desirable feature, particularly as I lack a drawbridge.

Whilst on the publishing front, an article I helped to produce on behalf of a late friend has now appeared. ‘Is Blood thicker than water?: Farm servants and the family in nineteenth-century north Devon’ is in the latest edition (strangely this is the autumn 2013 issue) of Local Population Studies.

It has been a busy week with three talks, one day course and a day in the time of the Great Fire of London. Only slightly disconcerted by the seven year old who, whilst discussing the food of the time, asked which animal bread came from – and this in a rural community!

Of Christmas Traditions, Schooldays and Home Improvements

Before Christmas recedes even further into distant memory (well apart from the extra weight that most of us will have inevitably gained) and following on from my previous post concerning Christmas decorations, do take time to record your family’s Christmas traditions and memories. I distinctly remember the year when my poor mother, whose cooking ‘skills’, like my own, were minimal, accidentally deposited the roast potatoes, on the floor. She was probably trying to cook for 8 or 10 of us. I don’t think that the ‘3 second rule’ had been invented then but suffice it to say we did eat those potatoes and most of the diners were blissfully ignorant of their contact with the kitchen floor. Then there was Uncle Percy who didn’t eat turkey, except that is when he came to Christmas dinner each year and happily consumed what we told him was chicken. There were games and quizzes. When we acquired a reel to reel tape recorder in 1967 we recorded the voices of the family and then tried to identify them when played at high speed. Those tapes and the machine do still survive although I have not tried to play them for decades. I really should find the correct tape and do this. I was able to participate in another Society for One Place Studies Google+ Hangout on Air about Traditions and Celebrations in communities of the past. There were some very interesting observations – do listen in to the recording.

As part of a group of fifty somethings I have just spent a very pleasant Friday evening (yes we should get out more) reminiscing about our school days, fellow classmates and hapless staff members. This is in the run up to a reunion to mark 40 years since we left school. I was pleased that I could remember almost all the names of my classmates and even where they sat. At the moment our collective memories are on Facebook chat, we really should do something more permanent with them.

I’m in the midst of another one of my four talks in eight days stints. Today is another presentation of my Writing up Your Family History day course. It’s not too late for New Year’s resolutions – do it – now! If you are female, were born in Britain before 1957 and want to record your memories of the years between 1945 and 1970 I need you and you need me. This is part of your family history. More details soon but it will mean that you are encouraged to preserve your past for future generations of your family.

I am afraid posts may be somewhat dominated by home improvements over coming weeks (please not months). I am having various things done including having a conservatory built. I loathe being invaded by workmen so the process is not stress free. So far I have got to day one, it should be day four but that’s another story. The skip will fit up my drive by sadly not the skip delivering lorry so the skip is having to go elsewhere – why did no one realise this sooner? Equally the materials delivering lorry cannot get near enough to do its job. The materials are now on my neighbours’ drive. Said neighbours are clearly destined for sainthood or at least the honours list. So far the old porch is gone – after a delay waiting for protective clothing so that asbestos could be removed safely. My porch has been shown not to contain harmful asbestos so what was that about? I have a muddy heap in what was my garden and the outline of a conservatory painted on the ground. There’s a wall that isn’t quite in the right place and the doors appear to open the wrong way but hey! Yesterday no builders – well that’s not strictly true. There were builders, different builders doing a different job. Oh whoops slight pause as they are due at daybreak, will be outside the bathroom window and I realised I needed to vacate the shower before their arrival. Glutton for punishment me.

I promise I will try not to harp on about hardcore and down pipes but home improvements are part of the history of our homes and families. I can remember having central heating installed in the 1960s, my mother remembered having electricity put in, do our descendants realise how different our lives used to be? Take a look at the My Homes Past website.