Shipwrecks are so rare these days that if they do happen they shock us. For example, when the cruise ship Costa Concordia ran onto rocks in 2012 and started sinking, it made international headlines. However, in Victorian times, shipwrecks were much more frequent events. Thirty-two people died on the Costa Concordia, but in the 1860s a similar number died at sea every week on the coast of Britain alone.
Recently we sadly lost Victoria Wood OBE CBE, the muchloved English comedian, actress, singer and songwriter, screenwriter and director. She was noted for her skills in observing culture, and in satirising social classes. Many people will know she was from Lancashire – but what more is known about her family story and can her determination be seen to have been inherited?
Digging into someone else’s family history may be the same in many ways as digging into your own, but there are some important differences too, especially when there are secrets to uncover. I am a writer and, in this article, I discuss the research for my recent book about an Englishwoman who staged her own death in 1907. After leaving her clothes on a beach in France, Grace Oakeshott journeyed to the far colony of New Zealand to reinvent herself – and to begin a new life with her lover, Dr Walter Reeve. She left behind her husband, Harold Oakeshott, as well as her parents, two sisters and a brother.
In the February 2014 issue, Nell Darby contributed an article on working from home in the past. She drew her examples from the Midlands and south-east England and concentrated on female employment. This article complements the earlier one by drawing its examples from northern England and investigating male employment in metalworking and wool and linen weaving.
Like pyjamas (see our February issue) the riding breeches known as jodhpurs originated in Asia and arrived in the west via India. Deriving from the churidar, a traditional garment of northern India and named after Rajasthan’s second-largest city, Jodhpur, these were distinctive trousers cut wide in the hips and drawn in tight folds to the calf. Roomy, well-ventilated and ideal in hot climates, churidar were worn by males and females with a loose shirt or tunic and are still seen at traditional Jodhpur weddings.
For those with ancestors from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen in particular there is a great deal to explore online at www.thegenealogist.co.uk. For Aberdeen, the most northerly of the three cities, records available include partial census records for 1851, land owner records 1872–3, and Aberdeen Post Office
Thanks to digitisation, newspapers from the 17th to the 21st century have become an indispensable and accessible source for researchers. Through their pages, historians with a passion for a person or a place or a time or a topic can rediscover forgotten details and gain new insights into the society and values of bygone ages. This book provides plenty of practical advice for anyone intending to use old newspapers by: outlining the strengths of newspapers as source material; revealing the drawbacks of newspapers as sources and giving ways to guard against them; tracing the development of the British newspaper industry; showing the type of information that can be found in newspapers and how it can be used; identifying the best newspapers to start with when researching a particular topic; suggesting methods to locate the most relevant articles available; demonstrating techniques for collating, analysing and interpreting information; and showing how to place newspaper reports in their wider context.
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