Upcoming Local History Event: Tales from the Tweed

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Aug 272013
 

News reaches us of a local history event that we think AddressingHistory users/blog readers, particularly those in the Borders, may be interested in. This guest post from Heather Rea, Edinburgh Beltane Network, explains the project and event Tales from the River Tweed

One intrepid family are about to begin a 97 mile storytelling trek along the River Tweed. Equipped with walking boots, waterproofs and a ukulele, Ross Winter and Sophia Collins, and 6 week old baby Taliesin, will walk from one end of the Tweed to the other this September. It’s all part of a project to celebrate the River Tweed, its landscape and its stories.

People on the Banks of the Tweed by Flickr User Bods / Andrew Bowden

People on the Banks of the Tweed by Flickr User Bods / Andrew Bowden

The family will stop at various places along the way and put on events – in village halls, pubs, museums and schools. Each event will feature traditional storytelling and talks from Tweed experts, followed by a ‘story sharing’ session where members of the audience can tell their own tales about the river. “Scotland is world-famous for its natural landscape, and also for its story-telling tradition, so it seemed to make sense to bring them together.”, says Sophia.

“This is the first project of its type in the world and we’re delighted that the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland have been forward-thinking enough to fund it.”

“I like the idea that the river has seen so much history and has always been a place that people are drawn to, a thing that connects people together” says Ross. One way that they’ll be ‘connecting people’ will be through their website which will include photos, drawings, journals and audio recordings of stories they have collected as they walk along the river, and from the people they meet. Sophia says:

We’re like wandering medieval bards, but with laptops, iPhones and sound recorders.

Find out when and where the events will be and follow their journey on the Tales from the Tweed Blog: http://talesfromthetweed.wordpress.com

You can also view a Preview here:

YouTube Preview Image

If you have tales from the River Tweed to share please do get in touch with Sophia, Ross and Taliesin would love to hear from you and to welcome you along to the events they are planning. Contact details are on the website and Sophia can be contacted via talesfromtheriver@gmail.com.

Guest Blog Post: Whose Town? a heritage project for schools

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Sep 082011
 

This week we have a guest post about the Whose Town? Project from Clare Padgett, Library Services Officer at Edinburgh City Libraries and part of the Whose Town? team. We bumped into her at the Scottish Association of Family History Societies Conference and she kindly offered to let AddressingHistory blog readers know more about this new resource about Edinburgh’s past.

School pupils across Edinburgh are getting to grips with an award-winning new digital teaching resource which uses real life case studies to illustrate key periods of history.

Whose Town? is an award-winning and innovative resource for teaching Social Studies developed by Edinburgh City Libraries. The resource is aimed at pupils aged between 8 and 13 and is linked to the Curriculum for Excellence, second, third and fourth levels. It is available on Glow, the Scottish schools’ intranet and on free CD.

Whose Town? looks at Edinburgh’s past from the 1850s to the 1950s through the eyes of people who lived there. Continue reading »

Guest Blog Post: SPIRES Network Technological Spaces Event

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Sep 022011
 

We have a short guest blog post this week from Mòrag Burgon-Lyon of SPIRES who have an event coming up in October that should be of interest to those using AddressingHistory.

SPIRES is a network for researchers, young, old and somewhere in between, in academia, industry and leisure.  They run seminars and workshops, provide travel funding for these and other events, promote discussion and generally support members in any way they can. Anyone can join SPIRES (it’s free!) and you can find out more about how to do this on their about page.

The SPIRES (Supporting People who Investigate Research Environments and Spaces) network would like to invite some leisure researchers to join our next workshop on Technological Spaces at City University, London on 7th October.  We aim to get people together from academia, industry and leisure research for networking, and to better understand the physical, social and digital environments in which research is conducted.

The day will comprise short talks of around 15 minutes on various topics, discussion sessions and group activities.  Confirmed talks include a digital curator from the British Library about the Growing Knowledge exhibition and some academic projects on digital tools including SerenA (a Serendipity Arena) and Brain (Building Research and Innovation Networks).  More talks are in the pipeline from academic and industry speakers.

If you would like to present a short talk about your research, and the tools (digital and otherwise) you use, we would love to hear from you!  If you would rather not present a talk, but would still like to attend the workshop, or just join the SPIRES network (it is free, and there are lots of benefits) please get in touch.  Assistance with travel costs is available for workshop attendees, (though please check with me before booking travel) and lunch will be provided.  Contact @SPIRES13 on Twitter, or email m.burgon-lyon@hw.ac.uk.  Further information is also available on our website http://www.spires.info

Guest Post: Census 2011

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Mar 272011
 

Today is UK Census day and to celebrate – and encourage any last minute form filling in – we have asked James Crone, of the UK Borders service (more on which later in this post) to tell us a bit more about the Census and why it creates such a valuable legacy for future genealogical researchers.

Scottish Census Logo

There has been a census held in the UK every 10 years since 1801 with the exception of 1941 during which the country was preoccupied fighting the second world war. The idea is to capture a snapshot in time so Census Day, which is Sunday 27th March 2011 this year, is the day on which this snapshot is based – even if you complete the census before or after this date you should fill in the form as it would be on this day. Historically Census volunteers would visit households on the day to complete the forms but this year households can, for the first time, fill out their forms online (if you haven’t filled out your form yet click the links for the Scottish Census or the England, Wales & Northern Irish Census).

England, Wales and Northern Ireland Census LogoThe tagline of the 2011 UK Census is “help tomorrow take shape”. Readers of the AddressingHistory blog will no doubt be aware of the value of the data to family and local historians since each census captures the names, relationships, and professions of those living at every address in the UK – a hugely rich resource when combined with birth, marriage, and death certificates, yearly Post Office Directories (like those in AddressingHistory), letters, pictures, etc.

Detailed Census data is only released for public use 100 years after it’s collection (for privacy reasons) which makes 2011 both Census year and, in April, the first opportunity for genealogists and historians to see the 1911 Census in detail. However data collected as part of the census has a wide variety of uses as soon as it is collected, these include:

  • An accurate population count helps the government to calculate the grants it allocates to local authorities and health authorities (some examples of how statistics indicate areas of need are highlighted in the recent This is Britain with Andrew Marr programme on the Census).
  • Data collected and analysed about the age, social and economic make up of the population, and on general health and long-term illness, enables the government and local authorities to plan and fund health and social services.
  • Information about housing and its occupants indicates where accommodation is inadequate and helps in planning new housing.
  • Knowing how many people work in different occupations helps government, local authorities and businesses to plan jobs and training policies.
  • Information about travel to and from work and car ownership highlights the pressures on transport systems and how road and public transport could be improved to meet local needs.
  • Information about ethnic groups helps central and local government to plan and fund programmes to meet the needs of  minority groups.
  • Population statistics enable licensed census distributors to create business planning software products.
  • Census statistics help research organizations to decide how, when and where to capture representative samples.
  • Population statistics help businesses to decide where to locate or expand their premises to reflect local demand and the available workforce.

Within the UK researchers and students are able to access the outputs derived from the census through the ESRC Census Programme and Census data and here at EDINA we run the UKBORDERS service which provides access to digital boundaries which represent the geography of the census.

Students and researchers use data from the ESRC Census Programme to support a wide range of academic research. Recently a researcher from Bangor University mapped data from the 1991 and 2001 censuses in order to understand the geographic distribution of welsh speakers in north wales. Using this data the researcher was able to explore where the welsh language was thriving or in decline and understand how this pattern has changed over time.

A great deal of information about the 2011 census is available from dedicated sites run by the Office for National Statistics and the General Register Office for Scotland.

Image from the Census-Man Online Game

Someone to keep an eye out for in the run up to March 27th is Census Man! You can even play a special Census Man Game (it’s not giving too much away to say that completing and posting your form successfully will lead to bonus points!)

Jan 062011
 

To mark the start of the new year we are delighted to bring you a guest post by Celia Heritage. Celia is a professional genealogist and lecturer in Family History and, yes, her surname really is Heritage. Celia offers professional research service, online research advice and Family History Courses. She is currently working on putting her popular 5-week beginners’ and refreshers’ course “Building Your Family Tree” online and has  several talks on using maps in family history coming up in her talk schedule over the next few months.

Using Maps for Family History Research

As family historians we often become set in our ways in the types of records we study. Records of birth and marriage tell us about our ancestors in relationship to other people, while census records provide us with a glimpse into the lives of our families once every ten years, showing us where they lived and what they did for a living. If you hope to really get to know your ancestors however, it’s time you turned to other sources and two of the sources we regularly underuse are maps and directories. We are very lucky to live in the world of digitisation! Digitisation has revolutionised family history, taking records that were previously only available in isolation on the bookshelf and, not only making them accessible at home via the Internet, but evolving them in order to achieve a far greater depth of meaning.

Whereas maps tell us what sort of environment our ancestors lived in, giving an indication of local facilities from railway stations, public houses, factories and public baths, directories give us specific information about the people who actually lived in that environment: where they lived and often their occupation. Directories are excellent sources for fleshing out your  family tree. I traced two of my own relatives Joseph Hemus and his wife Martha in the post office and trade directories for Birmingham between 1880 and the 1920s. From the directories I discovered that although Joseph ran a draper and hosiery business, his wife had her own business as the proprietor of a domestic service agency, initially from the same address as her husband and later at a separate address. The directories also showed that Joseph and Martha had originally lived in and run his draper’s business from one premises but, presumably as his business prospered, he was able to rent separate premises for the business a few streets away from the family home. In his later years a study of the directories once again shows that he moved the business back home and guess he must have downsized the business in his later years.

The beauty of the AddressingHistory project is that it marries these two concepts, producing as it does the results of a surname search in the directories plotted on a map of the environment in which they lived. This means that not only is it easy to pinpoint exactly which part of the city an ancestor  lived in at that time, but that you can simultaneously locate other family members with the same surname living in Edinburgh.  The Edinburgh directory of 1784 predates the first national census that was of any use by some 57 years while both the 1865 and 1905 directories are useful stop gaps in between the decennial census returns. And while we are here – the other great thing about this project is that with the selection of three  maps many years apart it makes  a superb tool for watching the city of Edinburgh develop through the years before your very eyes!

Oct 272010
 


As we prepare for the AddressingHistory launch we are delighted to welcome another guest blogger to the AddressingHistory blog.

Shauna Hicks has been tracing her own family history since 1977 and holds a Diploma in Family Historical Studies from the Society of Australian Genealogists. Having worked in government for over 35 years, primarily in libraries and archives in Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne, Shauna is currently Director of Shauna Hicks History Enterprises and regularly blogs about genealogy news, events and experiences.

Shauna is a collaborative partner in Unlock The Past a new venture promoting history, genealogy and heritage in Australia and New Zealand. She is a Fellow of the Queensland Family History Society; a recipient of the Australian Society of Archivists Distinguished Achievement Award and in 2009 received the AFFHO Services to Family History Award.

Shauna has written a piece for us on the usefulness of Post Office Directories in her own family history research.

Using Australian Post Office Directories to Trace Ancestors

Post office directories (PODs) have similar contents regardless of where in the world they were published. In Australia due to our smaller population in the 19th century, PODs tend to list most people (usually the head of the family) who were resident in a given area. Even miners can be found if they stayed long enough in an area to make it on the annual POD. While there are State based directories, there are also individual ones for capital cities and for regional areas. There were numerous publishers over the years but well known names include Sands and Wise.

An example from my own family history will highlight both the usefulness and the potential traps of using directories for family history research. All information should be confirmed by at least two different sources.

The 1898 Wise Directory for Queensland lists my Scottish gg grandfather John Carnegie as a selector living at Toorbul, 41 miles north of Brisbane. Listed as a selector indicates that he had land and a land search revealed he selected two farming areas. John’s daughter Clara married Charles Davis and a Charles Davies is listed as a selector living at Toorbul. Researchers need to be flexible with spelling as in this instance Davies is in fact Davis.

The 1909 Wise Directory still has John living at Toorbul but he died in 1903 so researchers need to be aware that directories may not be totally accurate but provide clues to be followed up. Similarly a Chas Davies is still listed at Toorbul and illustrates how given names may be abbreviated and taken into account when searching. Charles disappeared in the Western Australian goldfields ca 1895 so he wasn’t there in either 1898 or 1909 but had been living there prior to going to WA in 1893.

The majority of Australian PODs have been digitised by Archive Digital Books Australasia and are available for individual sale. They are also in the collections of FindMyPast.com.au and Ancestry.com.au. Western Australian PODs are searchable online 1893-1949 for free at the State Library of WA.  A useful article by Graham Jaunay on Directories and Almanacs is available online and in my article Find Your Ancestors in Church Publications Part 2 I used directories to find out what churches existed in places my ancestors lived.

Over the years I have found Australian PODs extremely useful in my research and with digitised copies and online access it is easier than ever to use directories. I already know that John Carnegie’s wife Helen Stratton was the daughter of Charles Straton listed in the 1842 Oliver & Boyd’s New Edinburgh Almanac and National Repository as a writer in Montrose. The Stratton family moved to Edinburgh and lived there between 1847 and 1859. I am really excited and looking forward to accessing Edinburgh directories online and finding out new information on my families.

Guest Blog Post: Around Causewayside in Old Maps and Photographs

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Oct 012010
 

Today we have another excellent guest blog post from Chris Fleet, Senior Map Curator at the National Library of Scotland.

When the AddressingHistory team popped in to take some pictures of the PODs and Maps this week Chris showed us the exhibit of Causewayside in Old Maps and Photographs that he has created for the new Maps Reading room and he agreed to tell us more about what he’s been finding out about the area of Edinburgh that the AddressingHistory project calls home. We hope Chris’ post will inspire you to send us your own stories about people, professions and locations you hope to use AddressingHistory to help you explore and research.

Around Causewayside in Old Maps and Photographs

Post Office Directories and maps are often just the starting point for exploring the history of particular streets and buildings. With the recent move of the NLS Maps Reading Room, we not only face our AddressingHistory partners EDINA across the same street, but we have also put together a small exhibition  –  Around Causewayside on old maps and photographs.

Chris Fleet stands next to part of the Causewayside in Old Maps and Images exhibit at the National Library of Scotland Maps Reading Room

Chris Fleet stands next to part of the Causewayside in Old Maps and Images exhibit at the National Library of Scotland Maps Reading Room

Causewayside – recorded as a causey or paved routeway from the 1580s – was historically the main highway from the Burgh Muir south to Liberton. However, it was not developed for feuing (the legal process under Scottish law of selling land) and housebuilding until after the acquisition of the Newington Estate by Dr Benjamin Bell of Hunthill in 1804. Most of the streets were laid out by the time of Kirkwood’s map of 1817, and Leslie’s map of 1826 shows extensive residential development and the names of individual proprietors.

During the 19th century, there was a partial transition from residential to manufacturing development along Causewayside, with new printing and publishing works, as well as the famous Middlemass Biscuit factory.

Middlemass & Son entry in the 1905 Edinburgh Post Office Directory

Middlemass & Son entry in the 1905 Edinburgh Post Office Directory

Robert Middlemass was born in Peebles in 1819, and we know from the Post Office directories that he started biscuit production through premises in West Preston Street in 1835. From 1869 he acquired a second site on Causewayside, which expanded in phases, to front onto Salisbury Place and Upper Gray Street by 1897. This expansion of the factory can be seen on the Ordnance Survey maps of 1877, and 1893. These photographs of the exterior and interior of the Middlemass Biscuit Manufactory were taken in around 1910:

Exterior of the Middlemass Biscuit Factory (image courtosy of the National Library of Scotland)

Exterior of the Middlemass Biscuit Factory (image courtosy of the National Library of Scotland)

Interior of the Middlemass Biscuit Factory (image courtesy of the National Library of Scotland)

Interior of the Middlemass Biscuit Factory (image courtesy of the National Library of Scotland)

The Middlemass Factory is of particular interest to NLS, as it originally housed the NLS Map Room from 1974, and the Factory was subsequently demolished in 1984 to allow the current Causewayside Building to be built.

A recent addition to the NLS Digital Archive is the fascinating set of 138 photographs of the South Side of Edinburgh, including Causewayside, taken by Alfred Henry Rushbrook for the City of Edinburgh Improvement Trust, 1929.

Exterior image of 72-78 Causewayside (image courtesy of the National Library of Scotland)

Exterior image of 72-78 Causewayside (image courtesy of the National Library of Scotland)

Our small display of photographs and maps of Causewayside can be seen until the end of October inside the new National Library of Scotland Maps Reading Room, 159 Causewayside. Opening hours: Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri: 9.30 am – 5.00 pm; Weds 10.00 am – 5.00 pm; Sat: 9.30 – 1.00 pm.

Guest Blog Post: Putting Street Directories on the Map

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Sep 212010
 

This week we are delighted to bring you a guest blog post from Chris Fleet, Senior Map Curator at the National Library of Scotland. Chris shares his perspective on the history of mapping, and particularly urban mapping, and how the historical post office directors fit into this history. Chris also looks at how the AddressingHistory tool will enable a new perspective on these valuable historical resources.

Putting Street Directories on the Map

Towns like Edinburgh are well mapped these days – in electronic and paper forms – but it was not always like this.

Flickr Map Showing an Image of the National Library of Scotland Maps Building

Flickr Map Showing an Image of the National Library of Scotland Maps Building

These days, in addition to ubiquitous electronic maps and satellite images from Google, Bing, or Yahoo, a fresh handful of new paper maps are published every year by mainstream publishers such as the Automobile Association, Collins, Geographers A-Z, or Philips, as well as smaller specialist cartographers. This is without even considering the much larger number of publications including maps within them.

So its easy to forget that this modern abundance of urban mapping doesn’t extend back in time much before the 19th century for Edinburgh. The relatively limited earlier mapping of the burgh from the 16th century onwards for small and specialist audiences, dominated by military concerns, was replaced in the later 18th century by a diverse and steadily expanding civilian urban market. Maps appeared in a range of new publications – almanacs, directories, newspapers, travel accounts, books on history and geography, and publications of learned societies – for new literate audiences.  In addition, the steady replacement of copper-plate engraving by lithography during the 19th century allowed maps to be produced and updated much more cheaply.

Lithographic stone by edinburghcityofprint (the Edinburgh City of Print initiative)

Lithographic stone by edinburghcityofprint (the Edinburgh City of Print initiative)

Maps for Post Office Directories grew both in frequency and in the towns they covered as the century progressed, but they were always driven by these commercial and technological constraints. Only Aberdeen, Dundee,  Edinburgh, and Glasgow were regularly mapped before 1850 in Directories. After Ordnance Survey mapped Scotland’s towns at large scales from 1855-1880, many smaller towns – Ayr, Banff, Dumfries, Greenock and Perth – were mapped for Directories, whilst for the larger towns there were fresh new maps every year. Map publishers such as W & AK Johnston and Bartholomew – both based in Edinburgh too – rose to the fore to dominate production. Although plain and utilitarian, Post Office Directory maps are a key information source. Their value in illustrating the dramatic urban expansion and change at this time is heightened when we put them into a longer historical cartographic context. Ordnance Survey may have mapped these towns in more detail, but far less frequently, so that the Directory maps allow a much more precise record of the changing townscape.

Screen capture of the Bartholomew Post Office Plan of Edinburgh and Leith, 1893-4

Part of the Bartholomew Post Office Plan of Edinburgh and Leith, 1893-4 (click the image to view the map on the NLS website)

For me, whilst Post Office Directory maps on paper have always been fascinating and useful for urban history, digitising, geo-referencing and integrating them with the textual content of the Directory brings out a whole new dimension to their value. Geo-referencing the maps allows them to be readily overlaid and compared to later and present day maps – the Visualising Urban Geographies project allows the advantages of this to be appreciated for maps of Edinburgh from 1765 to 1940. Geo-referencing the written content of the Directory, and creating dynamic spatial distributions of people or professions at the touch of a button, opens up a whole new graphical way of visualising the Directory content. By linking the results to a map of the same time period, the distributions can also be understood and appreciated much more readily. The AddressingHistory tool illustrates this new and powerful way of interrogating the Directories cartographically and geographically, and allows an important, but often neglected genre of urban mapping to be given a new relevance today.

Guest Blog Post: Using Post Office Directories to Research “Lower Class” Ancestors

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Aug 252010
 

Today we are excited to introduce our first guest blogger, Emma Jolly. Emma is a professional genealogist and historical researcher (more information on her website: www.genealogic.co.uk), she is also the author of Family History for Kids. Emma has written for us about how she has found post office directories, like those in AddressingHistory, valuable whilst undertaking research and particularly focuses on those people who may not traditionally appear as prominently in the directories.

Using Post Office Directories to Research “Lower Class” Ancestors

Most family historians know how useful post office directories can be in researching ancestors of high social status or those with shops. But directories often seem less useful for investigating the lives of the working classes.

London Post Office directories are similar to those in Edinburgh and have helped me to trace owners of private schools, china shops, lawyers and senior members of the clergy. However, I have also used them to find out more about members of the working class.

Although the Private Residents section tends to include middle or upper class inhabitants, the Trades section can include workers like cabinet makers, commercial travellers or laundresses. And the appearance (or not) of your ancestors in a series of years provides an insight into the success of their business over time.

For those tracing the history of a school, the directories’ school lists are essential for pinpointing when the school opened and any subsequent name changes. Street and public house name changes can also be thus identified – useful for all in streets, and for those who either worked in or regularly visited local pubs.

The descriptions of areas of the city tell us about the nature of your ancestors’ immediate environment in that specific year. Was it ‘healthy’ or ‘populous’, rural or industrial; how many railway stations did it have, and were there any trams? What workhouses existed and where in the city were they?

My great great grandfather, William Jolly, lived and worked as an apprentice blacksmith in the Auchinblae and Fordoun area in 1861. Even though I have visited this quiet and remote region, I may never have known that it once included “a thriving modern village” without the use of a local directory [Pigot and Co.’s National Commercial Directory of the whole of Scotland, and of the Isle of Man 1837 (Kincardineshire)]. And the description of the flax mill and the weaving industry in which “the greater proportion of the industrious classes here find employment” could explain why William’s sisters were later working in a flax mill in the town of Montrose.

When trying to track a likely church for a baptism or burial for any class of ancestor, the list of churches with denominations for the relevant year can help to simplify the search. In the later Victorian years, churches were built regularly and our ancestors often shifted adherence. With a shorter list, the research should be less arduous.

A glance at the Commercial section for businesses in that street where your ancestors lived [by using censuses or BMD (Births, Marriages, Death) certificates] gives an indication of the world with which they were familiar. A street of hotels, or coffee houses; piano makers or dressmakers; schools or factories – what did your ancestors see everyday? Was there a library on the corner, long since closed, where they could educate themselves in adulthood?

I have traced Londoners of every social class within the city and to as disparate parts of the globe as Scotland, France and India. Directories are always useful in my research and if I can access them online, then, all the better.

If you are would like to contribute a guest post to this blog on any topic related to the AddressingHistory project then please email us: addressing.history@ed.ac.uk.