Archive for 2012


A report on the society’s visit to the Ragged School Museum

ragged 300x257 A report on the societys visit to the Ragged School MuseumWhose Jewish father illegally married his deceased wife’s Irish Quaker sister but allegedly got around the law by marrying in a German church?

Who was born in Dublin in 1845, the sickly fifth child of the second wife and not thought to survive?

Who was encouraged by his mother to go to an evangelist meeting in 1862 at the age of 16 where he ‘found’ Christ and later joined the Plymouth Brethren?

Who was committed to temperance yet it is believed he started his working life as an apprentice to a wine merchant?

Who moved to London in 1866 at the age of 20 to train as a missionary to China?

Who was rejected by the Mission because, it is said, his energy and zeal made him unsuitable?

Who had an incredible ability to organise and whose desk contained an array of pigeonholes for that purpose?

Who, had a timing clock on his desk operated by ivory discs of various sizes each with a time value and, arguably, invented time management?

Who adopted the title of Dr before he was qualified to do so?

Who died in 1905 and was, unusually for the time, cremated with his ashes buried in the grounds of his Barkingside children’s home?

We are, of course, talking about Thomas John Barnardo.  SoG Members and guests were treated to these and many other snippets about his life, by Erica Davies, the Director of the Ragged School Museum on Copperfield Road, Mile End, during a visit on the 21st August 2012.   Yet in over an hour she was only able to scrape the surface of a lifetime dedicated to the poor and needy.

In 1877, Barnardo rented a canal side warehouse to convert to a ragged school and todays museum was an adjacent building which he added to his ragged school in 1895 because of overcrowding.  Copperfield Road Ragged School was not the first by any means but was the largest, accommodating nearly 300 children in day classes rising to over a thousand by 1895.  In addition, there was a playground in the basement for the younger children, evening classes for the older working children and a gymnasium for the boys. The Sunday School was attended by 2500 at that time. The children were also provided with free breakfast and dinner which in 1888 alone amounted to a staggering 68,000 free meals.  The school bell still remains and is shown in the photo below.

His first venture into missionary work with children was in 1866 when he took two cottages in Limehouse and founded the East End Juvenile Mission which ran a ragged school, church services, bible & sewing classes.  It proved to be a turning point in his life’s work.  One evening, a child remained behind and begged to stay the night in front of the fire.  The boy was not only an orphan but was also homeless, sleeping rough on the streets.  It was then that Barnardo discovered there were many similar children who had somehow slipped the Poor Law net and he opened his first boy’s home at Stepney Causeway.

With his unbounding energy and exceptional organisational skills he went on to found not just a few ragged schools but a whole network of institutions aimed at helping the poor and disadvantaged lead more fulfilling lives.  His overriding aim was to save, educate, train and find employment for these children, enabling them to lead decent, Christian, family lives.  He bought the Edinburgh Castle public house and converted it into a Coffee Palace for Working Men.  He created the Boot Blacking Brigade, the City Messenger Brigade, the Wood Chopping Brigade, the Servants Free Registry and Training School, the Factory Girls Club & Institute, the Working Lads Institute and a host of other similar opportunities to help those at the bottom of the human pile to gain their independence through employment.

He produced a relentless stream of pamphlets, aimed at tugging the heart strings in a way that today would be seen as exploitation or politically incorrect and even in those Victorian times got him frequently into trouble.  Yet they helped him to raise during his life time the staggering sum of over £3 million (worth £200 million at today’s prices), without which he could not have helped the  thousands who passed through his hands.  Some of his methods bordered on the criminal but always with the children’s interests at heart.  Sending children to Canada became a contentious issue because of some well publicised failures but there were many hundreds more who were helped to a prosperous life in a new country.  Neither were they sent to fend for themselves.  Before they left, Barnardo ensured that a proper care structure was in place and each child had a bank account into which their wages were paid and saved until they were 21.

His funeral came as close to a State Funeral as imaginable, demonstrating the love and affection the East End had for Thomas John Barnardo.  His body lay in the People’s Mission Church at the Edinburgh Castle for four days where thousands of people came to pay their last respects.  On the day of the funeral, thousands lined the streets, shops closed and the cortege was followed by 1500 boys from his many homes and institutions.

Even now, more than 100 years since his death, Thomas John Barnardo is still an inspiration and led me to seek out so much more of the life story of this remarkable man, beyond the commonly held perception of his Children’s homes and questionable practice of sending of children to Canada.

- Barry Hepburn

The  Ragged School Museum is located at 46-50 Copperfield Road, London E3 4RR. For more information, visit their website

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Congratulations to all Team GB medalists but especially the Rowers who have done us proud over the last few days.

Rowing 2012 Gold1 300x168 Sporting ancestors: some resources in the Society of Genealogists library Part 3: Rowers

 

 

 

Whether your ancestor was in the Olympics or not, it is hoped that this series of articles which first appeared in the Genealogists’ Magazine will give you an insight into some of the sources we hold in the library to help you trace sporting forbears. If you have any relevant books on sportspeople that you would like to donate to our collection they would be gratefully received. The SoG shelf mark for each item is noted within square brackets at the end of the title

Tim Lawrence, Head of Library Services

 

Sporting ancestors part 3: Rowing

A particularly useful resource in the Society of Genealogists Library is a list of Obituaries in the Rowing Almanack [by date of birth & by surname 1887, 1895, 1899-1900, 1903-04, 1906-07, 1909, 1911-15, 1921-23, 1926, 1978, 1980-81, 1983]  compiled by C J Cracknell [PR/SPO]. This index (in both alphabetical and chronological order) gives the rowers’ date of death, age, and the year in which their obituary appears , although the library does not hold the almanac itself.

For individual rowing clubs the library holds A short history of the Gainsborough Rowing Club, 1863-1923 [LI/L 11]. The Oxford & Cambridge boat race 1829-1953 [UNI/OXF] gives a full listing of all blues who have rowed in the race.

 Sporting ancestors: some resources in the Society of Genealogists library Part 3: Rowers

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Whether your ancestor was in the Olympics or not, it is hoped that this series of articles which first appeared in the Genealogist’s Magazine will give you an insight into some of the sources we hold in the library to help you trace sporting forbears. If you have any relevant books on sportspeople that you would like to donate to our collection they would be gratefully received.

Tim Lawrence, Head of Library Services

 

 

Sporting ancestors Part 2: Athleticstrack1 Sporting ancestors: some resources in the Society of Genealogists library   Part 2: Athletes

A good overview of the story of British athletics is provided in the Official Centenary History of the Amateur Athletics Association [PR/SPO]. This lists all AAA champions at Senior, Junior and Youth levels since its foundation in 1880. For athletes from the later 20th century we hold works such as the 1989 edition of Who’s who in British athletics [SoG shelf mark Winter Palace PR/SPO] and Athletics 2003 : the international track & field annual [ SoG shelf mark Winter Palace PR/SPO]

There are also histories of individual athletics clubs such as the City of Hull Athletic Club (incorporating Hull Harriers) 1889-1989: the story so far [SoG shelf mark YK/PER: Hull College Local Archives History Unit reprint no. 16]

The library holds a number of athletes’ biographies such as The great Joe Darby: champion all-round spring jumper of the world [ SoG shelf mark Family history tracts, vol. 247].

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The holding of the 30th Olympic Games in London this summer is a good opportunity to reflect on past achievements of British sportsmen and women, particularly if they happen to be our ancestors

 

Whether your ancestor was in the Olympics or not, it is hoped that this series of articles  on resources in the Society’s Library which first appeared in the Genealogists’ Magazine will you an insight into some of the sources we hold in the library to help you trace sporting forbears. If you have any relevant books on sportspeople that you would like to donate to our collection they would be gratefully received.

Tim Lawrence, Head of Library Services

 

Sporting Ancestors Part 1. Olympians.

It can be argued that the seeds of the modern Olympic Games in Britain can be traced back to 17th century Gloucestershire. Indeed the British Olympic Association, in their successful bid for the games, stated that:

‘In 1612 in the tiny village of Chipping Campden, Robert Dover opened the first ‘Cotswold Olimpicks’, an annual sporting fair that honoured the ancient Games of Greece. Those early ‘Olimpick’ competitors were as remote as you could imagine from the Olympic stars of today, and the ‘sports’ included singlestick, wrestling, jumping in sacks, dancing and even shin-kicking. But whatever the eccentric nature of the event, this was the pre-dawn of the Olympic Movement, and the Cotswold Games began the historical thread in Britain that was ultimately to lead to the creation of the modern Olympics.’

You can read more about Robert Dover, his ancestry, and the ‘Cotswold Olympicks’ in the book Robert Dover [1582-1652] & the Cotswold games (SoG Library shelf mark FH/DOV).

The Society’s library holds a number of useful sources for tracing our sporting forebears, even if they never made it to the Olympic games, and this article gives an introduction to these. The shelf mark for each item listed is given in square brackets after the title, so that it can be easily located.  water polo Sporting ancestors: some resources in the Society of Genealogists library   Part 1: Olympians

Works covering all sports

To find out if you have an Olympian in your family tree the best starting point is Ian Buchanan’s excellent British Olympians – a hundred years of gold medallists [PR/SPO]. This lists every British person who has competed in the Olympics since they began, together with their dates of birth and death and the Olympiads/events in which they competed. In addition it gives full biographical details of all Gold Medal winners.

The first edition of Who’s who in sport [SoG Library shelf mark PR/SPO], published in 1935, gives the biographies of several thousand leading sportsmen and women, together with a brief section on the history, organisation and records of each sport covered. The information it provides can be supplemented with the Oxford Companion to Sports & Games [SoG Library shelf mark PR/SPO], which gives an alphabetical listing of prominent sportspeople, as well as further information about their sports. A more recent publication is the 1994 edition of Who’s who in British sport [Apply to library staff].

Biographical works about individual sportspeople include items such as My Sporting Memories by the bare knuckle boxer, footballer and rower Bernard John Angle [SoG Library shelf mark PR/SPO]. If your ancestor was a sportsman at Oxford or Cambridge then you may well find reference to him in Fifty years of sport at Oxford, Cambridge & the great public schools [ SoG Library shelf mark UNI/OXF] which was published in 1913. This covers all the major sports at the universities and includes a biographical section.

If you would like to know more about the clothes that your sporting ancestor would have worn then

English costume for sports & outdoor recreation from the 16th to the 19th centuries [ SoG Library shelf mark TB/POR 29] should prove useful.

 

The Society of Genealogists will be posting further articles about resources in our remarkable genealogical library relating to specific sports and sportsmen and sportswomen throughout the Olympics.

 

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Italian Civil Registration Records 1802 to 1940 Awaiting Volunteers

I’m indebted to Thomas MacEntee and Geneabloggers for the following information posted: 16 Jul 2012 10:09 AM PDT

FamilySearch launched a historic partnership with the National Archives of Italy in December 2011 to digitally preserve and index its civil registration records (birth, marriage, and death) for all states from 1802 to 1940. Since the project launch more than 24 million images have been published, and 4 million names have been made searchable on FamilySearch.org.
But there are 115 million historic Italian documents with over 500 million names remaining to index and publish. Tens of thousands of volunteers are needed. To meet this opportunity,

FamilySearch is requesting help from indexers and arbitrators who speak or read Italian or a closely related language, such as Spanish, or who are willing to learn a handful of simple Italian words and phrases to help facilitate the initiative.

Descendants of Italians and Italy historic and genealogy societies are especially invited to participate to help accelerate the publication of this valuable record set. Interested individuals, societies, or groups should visit http://www.familysearch.org/italian-ancestors to learn more. To search the completed Italian records online and to learn more about reading Italian records, visit http://familysearch.org/italy.

 

 

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