General Archives


Society of Genealogists’ Summer Membership Offer

 

Rain on St Swithin’s Day forebodes a dreadful summer of 40 days of rain. So what are  family historians to do if you can’t be distracted from your genealogy by trips beach or forays into the garden? Well you could  just get on with your genealogical research and how better to do that than join the Society of Genealogists in its Centenary Year?

 

The Society of Genealogists’  Summer Membership Special Offer waives the joining administration fee of  £10 until 30 September 2011. This means your first year’s membership is only £45 (or £27 for overseas members). Join the Society  of Genealogists today and your discounted membership will be valid until October 2012. IN ADDITION the Society’s Summer membership Offer includes free  Family Tree Builder genealogy software (while stocks last).SoGBuildingPhotoGMcover2010web thumb Society of Genealogists Summer Membership Offer

 

Benefits of membership including FREE access to the SoG Library,  FREE data online, FREE Genealogists Magazine, FREE access to genealogy websites in the SoG Library and discounted books and courses are outlined on the Society of Genealogists website .

 

Download the application form today and quote SSP11 to take advantage of the Summer Special Membership Offer.

Technorati Tags: , ,

We’re now tantalisingly close to discovering who Lord Alan Sugar will choose to be his next business partner, with the final of The Apprentice hitting our screens on Sunday. The Society of Genealogists also got the business bug as we’ve just published the Business Index Collection in association with the Findmypast.

The Society of Genealogists Business Index Collection is also available to SoG members via MySoG on the Society’s website www.sog.org.uk

 

The record collection is made up of a selection of 17 books and trade dictionaries produced in different areas of the UK from 1893 – 1927, with 9,757 records showcasing businesses and prominent people of the late Victorian era and early twentieth century. You can find out more detailed information about the Business Index Collection.

The records are a superb family history resources. They can provide a lot of detail about your ancestors’ lives, often including a photograph and a short biography which will detail their education and experience, memberships of corporations and clubs, their hobbies or leisure activities as well as any charities they may have been involved with.

Else Churchill, Genealogical Officer at the Society of Genealogists, explains:

“The Business Index directories complement other family history sources such as censuses or birth, marriage and death records. While these records may merely state trade or occupation, the Business Index can include exactly what your ancestor did and often include potted histories of the family business, showing when it was founded and the generations of the family members who worked together. These stories put flesh on the bones of our ancestors. Society of Genealogists volunteers have been working hard to make these rare directories from its extensive library collections more readily available for the genealogists and we are delighted to be able to publish this first set of data.” 

Women in Business

We’ve had a hunt through the Business Index Collection and have found a number of successful women included, particularly around the early 1900s. This is fairly surprising considering the historical context of the records. It was not until 1928 that women were granted the right to vote on the same terms as men and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge had only opened their degrees to women some eight years earlier.

The successful businesswomen featured in the records include:

 

Helena Normanton – The first woman to practise as a barrister in the UK when she was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1922.BusinessIndex NotablePersonalities1927 305Normanton HELENAalone thumb New Society of Genealogists Family History Collection   Business Index published on line

 

 

Irene Barclay – The first woman in Britain to qualify as a chartered surveyor. Barclay helped to set up a number of housing associations around the country, improving living conditions for many people. 

Dame Lilian Braithwaite – Celebrated actress who appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s film Downhill and Noel Coward’s play The Vortex.

Marion Lyon – The Advertisement Manager of Punch magazine and the only woman to hold a position of this nature in the early twentieth century.

Radclyffe Hall – Author of The Well of Loneliness, a novel about a lesbian relationship published in 1928. The book was declared obscene and was withdrawn from sale.

BusinessIndex NotablePersonalities1927 195Hall RADCLYFFE thumb1 New Society of Genealogists Family History Collection   Business Index published on line

 

 

Lilian Baylis – Manager of the Old Vic and Sadler’s Wells theatres. Baylis also ran an opera company that later became the English National Opera, a theatre company that became the Royal National Theatre and a ballet company that became the Royal Ballet.

Debra Chatfield, findmypast.co.uk’s Marketing Manager, comments:

“The Business Index Collection shows us that while our female ancestors were fighting for the right to vote and to go to university, countless women were already business leaders. This is all the more amazing when you consider that today, fewer than 14% of FTSE 100 board positions are held by women.”

Search the Business Index Collection now to see if any of your ancestors are included!

Technorati Tags: , , ,

London Canal Museum visit and Regent’s Canal walk 27th July 2011

Many a time I have walked along the Regent’s Canal towpath with my young grandson
and had to restrain him from that inviting narrow slope down into the water!  No,
it is not a way into the water but a way out for horses that had inadvertently fallen
off the tow path.  That was just one of the snippets of history that our Guide, Roger
Squires, imparted during our two hour walk. Roger is a volunteer with the Canal Museum and
obviously has canals in his blood: there wasn’t a single question he could not answer.

 A Report on our  Historic Camden Towpath Walk & Visit to the London Canal Museum 27 July

Islington canal tunnel and tranquility just behind King's Cross station


There are about 12 locks between the start of the canal in Limehouse, on the Thames, and Camden,
rising 96 feet.  Then the canal continues on the level for over 20 miles to where it joins the
Grand Union canal in Middlesex.  Construction started in 1815 and the intervening years have seen
many changes of use and fortune.  The early railways deprived it of much income but at the same
time brought in other freight such as coal.  Just behind St Pancras station lie the remains of the
steel structures that supported the railway lines bringing coal from the Midland coalfields, below
which lay the canal barges waiting to receive their load from the bottom discharge hoppers of the coal trucks.  The noise must have been horrendous.  Then the barges distributed  the coal right across London, east to west.  Adjacent is the St Pancras gas works site and if you fancy an apartment with a difference, the plan is to build them within the frame of the giant gas holders!   But there in the middle of this industrial dereliction was a Heron, happily perched on a canal barge.

During the war, the canal traffic increased considerably again because of the shortage of road haulage
and the Canal Company started to make profits again.  The war also brought problems!   Kings Cross Station  lies below the canal level and it was realised that a well placed bomb breaching the canal would allow huge quantities of water to escape flooding the station.  So, at intervals along the canal, ‘stop’ gates were fitted which were closed every night and the remains of those gates are still visible; if you know where to look as Roger clearly did.

Camden lock and lock keepers cottage now a Starbucks 300x225 A Report on our  Historic Camden Towpath Walk & Visit to the London Canal Museum 27 July

Camden lock and lock keeper's cottage now a Starbucks

 

Ice was a major commodity on the canal and there are several ice pits, one of which is located in the Canal Museum.  The largest ice well in London is right next to the Holiday Inn hotel in the middle of Camden.  It was constructed in 1839 and was still in use up to 1913.  It is no less than 100 feet deep, 40 feet in diameter and held 2000 tons of ice.  ‘Is’ because it is still there, capped below the surface and preserved thanks to English Heritage.  Warehouses lined the canal and, just like the dockland warehouses, many have been converted to residential accommodation but perhaps the most spectacular ‘conversion’ is Camden market.  Until as late as the 1950’s, this area was covered with timber but is now covered with this thriving sprawling market, a cosmopolitan riot of colour, smells, languages and nationalities.  It has become a tourist attraction in its own right and my younger overseas visitors always make a bee line for it.

Battlebridge Basin home of the Canal Museum and …. a heron 300x225 A Report on our  Historic Camden Towpath Walk & Visit to the London Canal Museum 27 July

Battlebridge Basin, home of the Canal Museum and …. a heron

For most of the canal’s life, horses were used to tow the barges and it was not until after WW2 that a few tractors were employed.   Anyone who walks the Regent Canal may well have noticed the gouges in the stonework supporting the bridges.  I always blamed drunken cyclists but in fact they represent nearly 200 years of wear, created by the horse’s tow ropes as they laboured many yards ahead of the barge.

Water has always been a problem for the Regent’s Canal and until the two Companies merged in the 1920’s, the Grand Union canal jealously guarded the water that escaped when the connecting locks were opened.  Water conservation is also one of the reasons for the twin lock system on the Regents canal so that as water in one lock was lowered half of it could be discharged into the adjacent lock to raise boats travelling in the opposite direction.  There was also an extensive pumping system to return water back to the top of the canal from the lower reaches in Limehouse.  At least one of those pumping stations has survived, albeit one now serving as a lock keepers cottage.  Most people will be familiar with the traditional canal lock gates and their wedge shape to hold back the water whilst allowing the gates to be easily (?) opened when needed.  Contrary to popular perceptions, they were not invented by early canal engineers but by Leonardo da Vinci; but then what didn’t he invent?

Whilst the canal has not changed in 200 years, the roads above it have and our guided pointed out the many changes of bridge construction such as widening or strengthening to carry trams.  Perhaps the most bizarre was the new bridges that had been built near St Pancras that had been disguised by ‘planting’ on each side the girders from the old bridge as a facade.  They served no useful purpose other than to maintain the historic appearance of the area. It was also good to see at various locations along the canal that some original foundation stones for the bridges had been preserved nearby, recording the various dignitaries at the time (genealogy at last!)

A cormorant in the middle of Camden 199x300 A Report on our  Historic Camden Towpath Walk & Visit to the London Canal Museum 27 July

A cormorant in the middle of Camden

Perhaps the biggest surprise was to see a cormorant sitting on top of an egg in the middle of Camden. Egg?  Well that’s another piece of history, albeit modern.  One of the ‘converted’ canal side buildings was the original TV-AM television studios and they erected these huge egg cups all around their roof. TV-AM went long ago but the egg cups remain and now provide a handy perch for any passing cormorant.  At least it proves there are fish in the canal and those rows fishermen along the tow path are not wasting their time.

 

Genealogy at last 300x225 A Report on our  Historic Camden Towpath Walk & Visit to the London Canal Museum 27 July

Genealogy at last!

After St Pancras the canal disappears into a 960 yard tunnel –  but that is a different story and a
different tour that the Canal Museum offer – but by boat!

 

 

Barry Hepburn (group leader)

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Wills, Wills, Wills

Wills are a fantastic resources for any family historian and it’s great news to hear of more being made readily available.

Ancestry.co.uk have been filling in some of the earlier gaps in its coverage of the post 1858 will indexes for England and Wales and we hear that these indexes are to be made free to view for the next week until 9th July.

We’ve been playing about with Ancestry’s new dataset of London wills 1528-1858 and trying to establish exactly what it contains. Comparison with various other indexes and sources and the site itself suggests these are the original wills  from those church courts whose records were formerly lodged at Guildhall and are now at London Metropolitan Archives (Commissary  and Archdeaconry of London) along with those from the Consistory of London and Archdeaconry of Middlesex which were always a LMA.

The collection does not, at present, include any testamentary records which might be found amongst the old Register Copy Wills or in the Will Act Books nor in the Administrations of those who died intestate. So don’t be beguiled into thinking these are the only probate records for Londoners.  As Ancestry’s site says there are still other records to check back at LMA.  It’s a fantastic start and the images of the documents it has are excellent. BUT you should still check all of the published indexes to the various London courts whether they be published by the British Record Society or on other websites.

The Society of Genealogists library has free access to Ancestry.co.uk as well as Findmypast and British Origins which also have useful indexes to wills for the London area. The SoG’s library of books and documents contains many abstracts and copies of London wills and some of these are indexed amongst the SoG data on MySoG. The Society has all of the manuscripts, printed and published indexes available for the church courts that governed wills including those for London  and Westminster. Note also that many Londoners’ wills were probated in the highest church court known as the Prerogative Court of Canterbury which has records at The National Archives. These indexed on TNA’s Documents Online webbsite which is also free to view at the Society of Genealogists.

For more information on using wills see the SoG free information leaflet on Wills.

Remember where there’s a will there’s a genealogist

Technorati Tags: , , ,

The first meeting of The National Archives User Advisory Group (TNA UAG) took place on Wednesday 22 June. Draft terms of reference were circulated and these are under discussion. The draft terms of reference have already been published and are for comment on the Society of Genealogists blog  and will presumably be available online through TNA when they are formally accepted.

The names and contact information for each representative will be published on the TNA UAG web pages  along with minutes and papers of the group’s quarterly meetings. However all the representatives have undertaken to represent, feedback to and communicate the UAG’s activities – so here goes.

The meeting’s first agenda was pretty much a case of getting to know each other (though many already did – this is very much an off-shoot of the more informal monthly users’ forum though with more users from the Map and Large Document Room and academics.) Chaired jointly by Jeff James, Director of Operations and Services and Chris Mumby, Acting Director of Customer and Business Development the meeting was set in the context of TNA’s business plan for 2011-2015 (already published online). This is scary as it shows TNA’s 2014/5 spending allocation £9m below that for 2011/12. TNA has to produce a lot more for less though Jeff and Chris are very gung ho.

Feeling suitably subdued we then looked at a very dense document relating to proposals for a User Participation Strategy – which is a technical term apparently for volunteers’ projects. We saw how prospective projects were analysed for their benefit and potential to the business of the organisation. Having gone through this process eight proposals are to be carried forward including projects to create user generated catalogue descriptive content; digitisation of images for the Caribbean and other material from the Commonwealth Office pictures and conservation projects. Having decided on these projects TNA intends to bring the User Advisory Group in to discuss methodology and approach at this “strategic” level. Though as usual, TNA is establishing a “Board” to manage (or provide governance) for the various projects.

I was amused to see how this meeting clearly showed how a group of professional civil servants have seamlessly taken on board the wishes and whims of their new political masters as I can’t tell you how many times the phrases “fits in with the Big Society etc” were bandied at his point. But TNA has always had to be pragmatic and work in the political context it finds itself and I make no criticism of civil servants doing what civil servants have to do. But it can feel a bit “Yes Minister” at times.

We then learnt more about a project to digitise and accession digital images of a subset of the Home Guards records to act as a pilot for the full Home Guard collection of 4.6 million records. The decision to access only the digital images of these documents and not the originals has been somewhat controversial. There has been public consultation about the transfer of these and three other large Ministry of Defence Collections and much discussion at higher level to get to this point (I am also on the TNA Advisory Council and contributed to the MoD consultation paper in November 2010 on behalf of the Society of Genealogists and the British Genealogical Record Users Committee). But it’s down to TNA project managers to make sure TNA does this project properly. It has to ensure the digitisation is done by a commercial partner to the standards it and its customers require. The HG records for Durham have been chosen for the pilot as it’s a small enough collection, but representative of most of the records and potential problems that might arise. The User Advisory Group will get to look at these “closed” records and comment of how they might be used and what searchable fields of data should be captured. The fields proposed are:

Name – surname and forename(s), Date of birth, Area or County, Place of Birth where given and address.

Once UAG members see the documents we might have other suggestion to add such as occupation or battalion.

I remember this same process 10 years ago with the 1901 census and I know that whatever advice we give will be tempered against what the commercial partner will consider to be practical and commercially viable. So the Advisory User Group can advise but whether this advice is heeded. in the end will be down to TNA and its partners.

The meeting concluded with TNA giving some rushed but tantalising indications of Public Service developments – British Nationality Cards will be made more readily available, Work will continue to scan and make digitally available material from film. We hear there are plans for TNA to use web chats or instant messaging – presumably as part of the advice and help services. UCL’s collection of rare books will be hosted at TNA while it is being refurbished and it’s quite likely that the London LDF Family History Centre’s collection of films and computers will also be housed at TNA while the centre closes for a 9 month refurbishment plan.

Do look out for the formal minutes of the meeting when they are published by TNA http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/get-involved/user-advisory-group.htm

I’ll keep you posted about what we learn about the Home Guard records. The next meeting of The National Archives’ User Advisory Group will be on 6 September

Technorati Tags: , , ,

 Page 6 of 24  « First  ... « 4  5  6  7  8 » ...  Last »