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
Hullo! I’m here at Outwood Academy in Newbold for the annual family history fair run by the Chesterfield and District Family History Society – feel free to drop by if you are in the vicinity. Our stall is right next to m’colleagues from Chesterfield Library‘s renowned local studies section and opposite the equally-renowned Chesterfield Museum. I can also spot Derbyshire Record Society just over there in the middle. I’ll wander over and say how do in a minute.
Curious people that we are, we do like to receive enquiries that test our research skills. We recently received another interesting research enquiry, on the subject of internship during the Second World War.
The enquiry we had was regarding an employee of the John Smedley company based in Lea, near Cromford, originally from Vienna. We were asked whether we could add any information regarding her life, as a potential internee as an ‘enemy alien’ during the Second World War.
Via this enquiry we came across the National Archives Internees Records which can be viewed online and downloaded. Having looked through some of the images, they provide a fascinating and often sad insight into the backgrounds of many of who had escaped the Nazis and come to the UK to find work. Many were overqualified for the work they were doing and had often left other members of their families behind.
It’s also an interesting insight into the use of language during the prevailing political and social climate of the late 1930s and 1940s. Here are some examples of the information in these records, all of whom were exempted from internship (thanks to the National Archives who granted permission to use the images) :
We would really like to hear of any memories or stories you have relating to this subject in Derbyshire.
Some of the diverse subjects that have been researched in the Local Studies card catalogue this week include air wrecks, monetary equivalents, the surname ‘Lomas’ and Florence Nightingale.
In particular though, this week, burial locations have been a frequent feature of research requests, so we thought this subject was well past its expiration date (if you’ll forgive the pun) for a mention.
In many cultures, the idea of being able to visit the physical location of a place of rest is reassuring for friends and relatives. Here’s how to make a start on searching.
Burial Registers (found in parish registers) record information relating to the date of burial and the person buried rather than the location of the grave. Unlike civil cemeteries, it is unusual for churches to deposit grave registers at the Record Office, usually because they are not created in the first instance.
For some Derbyshire churchyards, groups of volunteers have created transcripts of the headstones and plaques in the church. These transcripts are known as Memorial Inscriptions, and include information only about those graves where the headstone/plaque was extant and legible at the time the transcripts were created usually, most were created in the 1990s and later. The Memorial Inscriptions do not include information about unmarked graves or graves where the headstone is no longer visible or legible.
They do also sometimes contain a very useful background to the cemetery or churchyard, and in particular these are a regular feature of the The Derbyshire Ancestral Research Group transcripts. There may also be a graveyard plan.
Cemetery Records can be tricky and a little time consuming to search as the indexes, although alphabetical, are not usually alphabetical after the initial letter. For example, as shown above, under the ‘Hs’ you are very likely to find ‘Hewitt’ after ‘Hill.’ If the name you require is found in the Index, there will usually be a reference (normally a number and folio reference). You then need to make a note of this in order to then search the Burial and/or Grave Register to find more details about the location. As with all records, the information provided varies from Cemetery to Cemetery.
Of course it is always worth searching our online catalogue for any information regarding graveyard plans or burials as you never know what you might unearth!
Each month Derbyshire Libraries run a special promotion and for the month of August the theme is ‘Laugh out loud’. The world news just lately has been a little grim to say the least and I’m sure we could all do with something to put a smile on our faces, so I thought I’d investigate our Local Studies collection to see what Derbyshire comedy connections I could find.
There are many comedy actors with close links to the county. Arthur Lowe, the pompous Captain Mainwaring in the classic comedy series Dad’s Army was born in the north of the county at Hayfield. Robert Lindsay, who I remember as ‘Wolfie’ in the 1970s comedy Citizen Smith was born and grew up in Ilkeston.
James Bolam, best known for roles in ‘The Likely Lads’ and ‘Only When I Laugh’ was educated at Derby’s Bemrose School. He moved to Derby as a 13 year old, joining the 3rd year at the all-boys school. He initially trained as an accountant in Derby – but he also joined the Derby Shakespeare Company, appearing at the Derby Playhouse with them.
As a child growing up in the 1970s another TV favourite was ‘The Goodies’. Who can forget the three-seater bicycle and Kitten-Kong? Tim Brooke Taylor, one member of the famous threesome was born in Buxton and at one time was honorary Vice-President of Derby County Football Club.
Dirk Bogarde appeared in more than 60 films with a career that lasted over 50 years. His early film career included the Doctor series such as Doctor in the House and Doctor at Sea, which made him one of the most popular British film stars of the 1950s. Before this, during the second world war however, he enlisted in the army, and was sent for training in the interpretation of aerial photography at Smedley’s Hydro in Matlock, now County Hall. His training in 1943 helped him in his role in the D-Day landings where he worked with the Army Intelligence Photographic Unit.
Moving away from the silver screen and on to the printed word, children around the globe for generations have laughed at the tales by the wonderful Roald Dahl.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda are just two of his creations, but who knew that Dahl, born in Wales to Norwegian parents was educated for a time at Repton School?
Another author whose writings have often reduced me to tears – is Chesterfield born Derek Longden. I remember him reading his comic pieces on Radio Derby when I was a child – always hilarious.
His books on his life, starting with ‘Diana’s Story’ about the loss of his wife after years of her suffering with ME and followed by ‘Lost For Words’, about his mother had you one minute crying with laughter and the next with sorrow. So popular were they that they were adapted for television, with ‘Lost For Words’ winning a Bafta for actress Thora Hird.
Instead of words, cartoonist Bill Tidy is famous chiefly for his comic strips. ‘The Cloggies’ appeared in Private Eye from 1967-1981, a parody of the popular television series of the time The Forsyte Saga, but set in the industrial north instead of a genteel upper class society. Born in Cheshire, Bill now lives in Boylestone, near Ashbourne.
It’s not only people that have a comedy connection to Derbyshire – but places too. Most of these memories seem to centre on my childhood, but bringing us more up to date we have Royston Vasey. The village in cult comedy The League of Gentlemen is actually Hadfield in Derbyshire. The television series ran from 1999-2002 the brainchild of Jeremy Dyson, Mark Gatiss, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton. It attracted a cult following and expanded into a full length film in 2005.
Other locations used in the series were Glossop and Hope Valley. If you knew the area you could spot:
- Hilary Briss’s scary butcher’s shop (J.W. Mettrick & Son)
- The old fishmonger’s became a veterinary surgery
- The empty estate agent found new life as the Attachments dating agency
- The little handicraft emporium was transformed into a joke shop one day and a video rental shop a week later
So here we have just a few of Derbyshire’s claim to comedy fame. Your local library will have plenty on offer to put a smile on your face over the coming month, so why not pop in and have a look.
We’re often asked for images, illustrations and photographs for a variety of reasons: house or building history, planning and model making are just a few. So we thought it might be useful to list a few sources of useful information about how to access images, both online and in our collections.
Firstly, with a title including ‘Picturing the Past’ we couldn’t forget to mention the fantastic website Picture the Past which has thousands of searchable images from throughout the East Midlands. If you are particularly taken with an image you come across, you can even have it made into a cushion cover, coaster, or mug, among other items!
The images range from the scenic
to the posed
to the celebratory
We also have an A-Z Illustrations card index in our collection Local Studies collection which can be accessed in our Card Catalogue Room in the Local Studies Library. This contains references to photos, illustrations, postcards and other imagery. These often provide clues as to what a building may have looked like internally as well as externally, railways, mines and industry, and family and public events.
You can also find photographs and images in our Archives. A search for ‘photograph’ under ‘description’ in our online catalogue revealed 633 results.
In addition, if you are looking for aerial photos, the incredibly useful website Britain from Above has some useful images from around Britain. This is one of Derby. Let us know if you have any useful sources for illustrations, photos or other types of images!
If you happened to be in Matlock this lunchtime, you may have noticed a bit of an event going on! If you weren’t there, and were wondering what all the fuss was about i.e. cyclists, spectators, sirens, police motorbikes and cheering schoolchildren, it was the Women’s Tour – a professional women’s cycling race, which had a whole stage planned in Derbyshire, going from Ashbourne to Chesterfield via Buxton, Youlgreave, Winster and Matlock.
The riders included Lizzie Armistead, Britain’s cycling world champion and professional teams from all over the world. Some Derbyshire Record Office staff, along with hundreds of others all along the route, were cheering on the riders on the Queen of the Mountains race up Bank Road in Matlock.
Of course, this is really also a shameless excuse to promote our current exhibition ‘Have bike, will travel,’ displaying the best of our archive and local studies material. The exhibition runs until the 30th July.
A recent visitor to the Record Office reminded me of a really important point when researching your family tree – distance! It’s important to remember how people travelled and why, in the past, which can help when searching nearby parishes and areas for those ‘lost’ ancestors.
The example in question was of a relative who had been born in Hucknall, but had possibly travelled ‘over the border’ for work. The visitor initially thought that Heanor parish would have been too far away, having used a satnav to calculate the distance. They obviously realised that this was giving them the distance by modern road, which we all take for granted so much these days (the distance was around 15 miles). However, as the crow flies, the distance was around 7 miles, a not unfeasible mileage for someone in the early 1800s to have walked to find work (particularly as the ancestor in question was an agricultural labourer).
It’s easy to assume that ‘in the old days’ our ancestors simply stayed in one place and worked wherever there was labour available locally. However, like the present day, people did travel long distances to a place of work, or perhaps where more lucrative work was available.
Of course many people also emigrated from the UK to try and increase their opportunities. If you think a relative may have emigrated, passenger lists for ships heading overseas can be found on family history websites such as Find my Past and Ancestry To get an idea of how many people emigrated from the UK between 1890 and 1960, I entered my name into the passenger lists, and it came up with 386 entries during those years!
Old maps can be a really useful source of information about the conditions, providing information about distance, terrain and settlements. Knowing the occupation of the person you are trying to trace is also useful (these can be found on census returns, or in trade directories). Additionally, knowing the main employment centres of the time can help e.g. mills, farms, manor houses.
Learning about the historical background as to how, why and where people travelled in the time period you are looking at can really help narrow down a tricky search (even though family members might convince you that your relatives never moved from one area!)
We have plenty of resources at the Record Office to help you with this: in addition to the online local studies and archive resources our Local Studies Library has county parish maps, trade directories and guides to ancestors’ occupations. The other resource we have of course, are our helpful staff!
Let us know if you have ever been ‘led up the garden path’ by a relative you were sure never could have strayed far…
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
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
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.
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.
Of course, if you are desperate to get back to a computer screen, you might find ‘The Family History Web Directory’ extremely handy!
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!
This treasure is nominated by Emma, who writes:
Brian Robinson’s book Memories of Tin Town: Life in the Navvy Village of Birchinlee and its people contains some amazing photos of life in this (now non-existent) village.
The village was built by the Derwent Valley Water Board for the workers who built the Derwent and Horden dams between the years 1902-1916. This ‘model village’ had everything the worker’s and their families needed, including a hospital, school, shops, post office, public bath house, police station and a pub.