Leaf through the pages of a book…

Summer is fading with the falling leaves of Autumn starting to make  an appearance, approaching that time of year when it’s comforting to curl up with a book in front of the fire.  So here are some new additions to our Local Studies library: Continue reading

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Finding your feet with Family History

Starting to do family history can seem a daunting task! Although there is now lots of information online with the help of websites such as Ancestry and Find My Past there are also numerous books which are a fantastic, tangible source of information and knowledge. These are excellent in providing a background of the type of sources you might come across, and why records appear in the they way they do! Forewarned is forearmed, as they say…

I asked an experienced colleague what she would recommend (thanks Vicky!) and she came up with two titles from our reference library:

‘The Oxford Companion to Family and Local History’ by David Hey

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David Hey’s guide is about as comprehensive as you can get! The thematic articles range from getting started with your family tree, to dealing with tracing your background by nationality and ethnicity, to searching agricultural and industrial histories. There is an absolutely indispensable A-Z glossary of terms you might come across and a useful list of all Record Offices and Special Collections in the UK.

‘Tracing your Ancestors through Local History Records’ by Jonathan Oates

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Oates’ useful guide is easy on the eye, with illustrations and photographs of examples of the types of local history records that you might encounter in your search.  It explains the historical background to records in England, and looks at lots of different sources: books, journals, illustrations, maps and newspapers.  Although parish registers are the most popular way of searching a family tree, these other sources can provide a wider feel for the time and place family members lived, and how they lived.

I’d also recommend ‘Essential Maps for Family Historians’ by Charles Masters – it’s incredible how much information maps have – from Estate maps, enclosure and tithe maps to The National Farm Survey.

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In addition to the more general guides, there are also specialist books which can help you trace ancestors who were in the Armed Forces, in a lunatic asylum, worked as a coalminer, lived in the colonies, in the clergy or were travellers, to name a few! The series of books ‘My Ancestor was a…’published by the Society of Genealogists are well illustrated and explain in plain language the historical background that these people would have lived in as well as the sort of records you could search to find information about them.

There is also a light-hearted look at the potential pitfalls of researching your family in ‘Granny was a Brothel Keeper’, which provides useful tips on how to avoid being led up the garden path, and a subtle warning about not believing everything you might see (and hear from well-meaning family members!) Written in no-nonsense terms (as you may have gathered from the title), there are real life researchers’ stories and lessons to be learned.

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Of course, if you are desperate to get back to a computer screen, you might find ‘The Family History Web Directory’ extremely handy!

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All the books mentioned can be found in our Local Studies library, along with our research guides at the Enquiry Desk. Libraries also have subscriptions to the Ancestry and Find My Past websites, so these can be accessed on the Library computers.

Please let us know if you have any personal recommendations or tips when researching family history, and we’ll be happy to pass them on!

Books – from Breweries to Mountain Biking

Currently on display in our Local Studies library is a varied selection of newly acquired books, ranging from Heritage Walks, to an amazing story about a ‘ghost runner’ to a history of Burton breweries! A full list and details are below:

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  1. Edwin Smith: A Life in Derbyshire Cricket by Steve Dolman Edwin Smith played for Derbyshire in three different decades between 1951 and 1971.  Among his other many achievements, he also represented the county in 497 first-class matches, claiming 1209 wickets at an average of 25.79.
  2. Inglorious: Conflict in the Uplands by Mark Avery With an introduction by Chris Packham this book outlines the case against grouse shooting, and its effect on nature and the environment.
  3. White Peak Mountain Biking: The Pure Trails by Jon Barton Researched and ridden by a local rider, this book features 24 routes from 10.5 to 45 kilometres in length, suitable for riders of all abilities. The routes are varied and involve limestone descents, twisty woodland singletracks and cruising along easy cyclepaths through green fields and pretty villages in Derbyshire.
  4. Heritage Walks in the Heart of the National Forest Now that spring is on its way, some lovely walks await in this booklet, created by the Overseal Footpaths Volunteer Group in the picturesque (and very underrated!) National Forest area.
  5. Peak District Walks with History  by Dennis Kelsall The ten walks in this attractive pocket guide have been chosen to provide fascinating locations from different period of our history including Bronze Age, Iron Age, Norman, Medieval, 16th and 17th centuries, Industrial Revolution and Victorian. Another great excuse to go walking in the Peak District
  6. The Ghost Runner: The Tragedy of the Man they Couldn’t Stop by Bill Jones This book outlines the story of John Tarrant, who started life as a teenage boxer, but was subsequently banned from running.  He ran anyway, taking part in races even though he was not allowed to compete. All the reviews point to an extremely fascinating and readable story which is difficult to put down.
  7. Ind Coope & Samuel Alsop Breweries: A History of the Hand by Ian Webster This book charts the fortunes of two Burton upon Trent brewing giants: Samuel Allsopp,  and Ind Coope.  Researched from the extensive company archives and other literature, this book not only deals in historical fact but brings the story to life, with anecdotes about brewery life that are often humorous and candid, taken from numerous interviews with ex-employees ranging from directors and managers through to operators on the brewery floor. It should be worth a read for anyone who remembers Double Diamond, Long Life and Skol !

A Sense of Place in Young People’s Poetry

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As I was re-shelving some books in Local Studies, a front cover caught my eye, due to its colourful artwork and images.  Well, I couldn’t help myself, and once I had opened the first few pages, I couldn’t stop reading (even though it was well past closing time!) The images belong to a book titled ‘Common Ground.’ It is a collection of poetry and artwork written by students from Shirebrook Academy and Clowne Heritage High School, as part of a Junction Arts project.

It’s a great example of young people coming together from different schools and celebrating (and also not being so celebratory of!) the areas they have grown up and lived in. Each page of poems is accompanied by eye-catching and colourful artwork, based on the natural environment.

The poems themselves are powerful, emotional and written with amazing creativity. I must admit to raising an eyebrow, when I saw that they were written by Year 8 students, such is the maturity in them. I would recommend the book to anyone working with young people, who has a passion for poetry, is working in a school, running creative projects or simply interested in the perspective of young people living in and around Shirebrook and Clowne.

The book is available to look at in the Local Studies part of the Record Office from our ‘Local Authors’ section, reference 828.9208, title ‘Common Ground’.

Alison Uttley Book Collection

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The variety of research that visitors to the Record Office are doing, and the questions they have are always fascinating, whether it’s local or family history related. This week, one of the online enquiries we received generated childhood reading memories for a few of the staff. The question was whether we knew of any fictional accounts featuring the Cromford Canal.  The local Cromford author, Alison Uttley, immediately sprang to mind (although you could argue that as her work was based so closely on her life, that a lot of her writing was autobiographical, rather than fictional!)

Alison Uttley Portrait

Alice Jane Uttley (1884-1976) was born Alice Taylor at Castle Top Farm, near Cromford, Derbyshire, and was educated at the Lea School in Holloway and the Lady Manners School in Bakewell.  She is most well known for her children’s books, set in the countryside, featuring the popular characters Sam Pig, Grey Rabbit and Fuzzypeg and always beautifully illustrated. Many of her books were based on memories of her life in the Derbyshire countryside.

She started writing after her husband, James Uttley, the brother of an old university friend, Gertrude, took his own life.  James’ mental health had been permanently impaired by his service in the first World War. They had a son together, John Corin Uttley (1914-1978), and Alison needed to support herself and her son.  This she did by writing.

Her delightful animal characters and descriptions of nature made her a successful writer and later in her life, she wrote for older children and adults.  She also wrote recipe books, all based on her incredible ability to remember the details of her country life in Derbyshire. Her writing describes in colourful detail what life was like living on a farm in Cromford around the turn of the 20th century.

If you would like to find our more about Alison,  The Alison Uttley Society website is full of information about her life and works  There is also some information related to her life detailed in our archives on our online catalogue

Here are a selection of Alison’s books from our Local Studies Library (there are two whole shelves worth!) which show the variety and scope of her writing. Does anyone have a favourite, or remember reading some of her books as a child?

 

 

 

Richard Clark’s new book on Derby

I recently blogged about a soon-to-be-launched book on Derby in a post about the DRS/VCH local history event happening in Matlock on 11 July. Now we have some details about the book, straight from the Derbyshire Record Society:

The Bailiffs of Derby: Urban Governors and their Governance 1513–1638
By Richard Clark

Derby has long had the doubtful distinction of being the least well studied major county town in early modern England, on which little work based on detailed archival research has been published. This new monograph goes a long way to rectifying this shortcoming. It provides a detailed picture of the bailiffs, chosen annually by their fellow burgesses, who headed the corporation between the early sixteenth century and the eve of the Civil War: who they were, what occupations they pursued, and the extent to which they formed a closed oligarchy. The second half of the book deals with their work: the maintenance of law and order, often in the face of incursions by county gentry; how they dealt with the plague and disputes over commons and enclosure; their response to the Reformation locally; and their role as benefactors. A final section considers how far a ‘civic culture’ developed in Derby. Appendices list the bailiffs, their occupations and wealth.

This study will be of great value to anyone interested in the history of Derby, and at the same time, because the author carefully contextualises his findings, is an important addition to case-studies of the larger provincial towns of Tudor and early Stuart England.

Richard Clark is a graduate of Worcester College, Oxford, where he completed a D.Phil. thesis in 1979 on the religious history of Derbyshire between 1603 and 1730. He now teaches part-time for the Open University. The author of a number of articles on early modern Derby, his edition of a churchwarden’s order book for All Saints, the principal parish church in the town, was published by the Derbyshire Record Society in 2010.

The Bailiffs of Derby will be published on 11 July 2015 as Derbyshire Record Society Occasional Paper No 11 (ISBN 0-978-0-946324-39-2), a section-sewn paperback of 128 pages, including a reproduction of John Speed’s map of Derby of 1611, at a recommended retail price of £15 (£18 by post). DRS members will be able to order copies at £10 post free.

Treasure 1: Beautiful bindings

Derbyshire Record Office’s 50 Treasures project began in 2012 as a way of marking our fiftieth anniversary. Each treasure has been chosen from our archive and local studies collections because it holds special meaning for one of our staff or users.

The first treasure, however, is not a single item, but the attractive bindings that do the important job of holding pages together. And they are lovely, aren’t they?

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Items in our collections can be appreciated simply for their beauty, such as these wonderful examples of binding on volumes in the local studies collection. – Lisa, Local Studies Librarian

A Sense of Place

DRO visitors will have seen our latest vitrine wall exhibition, A Sense of Place, focusing on the Local Studies Library’s Local Authors collection.  Inspired by a booklet published by former local studies librarian Ruth Gordon, we highlight Derbyshire-connected writers from Erasmus Darwin to Richmal Crompton to Stephen Booth, and the varied depictions in print of the Derbyshire landscape (both rural and industrial) and historic Derbyshire events.

Back Tor, Edale, c1980, courtesy of Albert Hugh Robinson and www.picturethepast.org.uk

Back Tor, Edale, c1980, courtesy of Albert Hugh Robinson and http://www.picturethepast.org.uk

Our county also provided inspiration for settings in such novels as Pride and Prejudice and Adam Bede, and the backdrop to a short story featuring Sherlock Holmes.  Did you know that cricket fan and Marylebone Cricket Club player Sir Arthur Conan Doyle may have amalgamated the names of wicket-keeper Mordecai Sherwin and Derbyshire bowler Frank Shacklock for his famous character, and that Sherlock’s brother’s name was perhaps inspired by another Derbyshire bowler, William Mycroft?  All three played in the match between Derbyshire and the MCC, reported on in the Derby Mercury, 17 June 1885.

A Sense of Place runs until Saturday 22nd November.

 

Recent progress

Further to Becky’s post yesterday, here are some photos of what’s been going on so far this year: books at the County Hall Local Studies Library getting a good clean, then being boxed up and taken down to reside in fancy new shelves at New Street.  It’s been a lot of hard work, but we are remaining cheerful.  Derbyshire Record Office regulars will recognise the owner of the high-vis jacket as Stewart Sandars, our Stakhanovite General Assistant.  Stewart retired in January after many years of cheerful hard work.  We miss him already.

2013 01 a Local Studies moving books (2)

 2013 01 b Matthew cleaning local studies books (2)2013 01 e Stewart and Jamie delivering books to store A (3) 2013 01 d Shelving in computer room (3) 2013 01 c Snow covered carpark  2013 01 f Shelves (filled) store A (4)

Derbyshire Literature Festival May 2012

May was a busy month for our outreach team as this was the first year that the Record Office took part in the Derbyshire Literature Festival. This was the 7th Derbyshire Literature festival organised by Derbyshire County Council which takes place every two years, and this year’s programme was exciting as ever, with more than 65 events happening in libraries and other venues across the county.

The Record Office contributed 3 events to the programme:

                                   ‘Ask the Archivist’

Glapwell Deed from 13th Century

An open day for those interested in historical research, whether it was advice on how to get started or how to get to the next step.  We had a great display of original material from our collections for visitors to read and we were very keen, as in all our events, to give people the opportunity to get hands on with the documents.  In this display we included material showing the range of material we hold, from prisoner records to a letter from Florence Nightingale, and our oldest records (we think!) a deed dating c. 1115.

‘Melbourne in the Archives’

Reading a 19th century Phrenology report out aloud from the original manuscript

An exhibition of historical records from the John Joseph Briggs collection (an author, poet, naturalist & historian from Melbourne) with the chance to read aloud from a selection of material from the exhibition and discuss and talk about the material. 

The exhibition featured letters, extracts, books, poems & illustrations concerning Melbourne local history.  The originals were on display and used during the read aloud session, which was enjoyed by all, and led to a relaxed and interesting group discussion.

Illustrations from a scrapbook found in the Briggs collection

 

 We received some lovely comments:

‘The event was excellent.  The staff were warm & friendly & knowledgeable; it was a privilege to see original documents; the readings were a special treat as was meeting local people’

 

 

 

‘Reading and Writing from the Archives with Sara Sheridan’

Looking at a late 19th century Asylum record to inspire creative writing or historical fiction

This session focused on how writers might use archive material as inspiration for creative writing and comprised of a full day of workshops, talks and activities.  We took along a large amount of original material, which provided examples of how you might use archives for writing, whether that was for characters or events, for accuracy, or what was like to live at that time – archives enabling writers to be authentic and true to the period. 

Participants were encouraged to use the documents to answer questions on how they might use the material and how to interpret them. We also had activities including guessing a mystery document, and using images from Picture the Past to inspire ideas for stories or poems. 

Following the Record Office session we had a workshop by the author Sara Sheridan who had come down from Edinburgh for the event.  Sara gave an extremely engaging talk on how she used archive material in her writing, and gave advice to the participants (most of whom were writing their own works) about how to write effectively for publication.

More information about Sara’s writing can be found on her website: http://www.sarasheridan.com/

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