Friday, 21 February 2014

Putting Your Ancestors in their Place ~ A Guide to One Place Studies by Janet Few

I recently had the opportunity to read a review copy of the latest book by Janet Few.

There are so few books dedicated to the subject of One Place Studies therefore this is a very welcomed addition to the genealogical and local history arena.

The book has been thoroughly researched and whilst is heavily slanted at such studies in the United Kingdom, those who are pursuing studies, or contemplating studies outside of the United Kingdom would without a doubt benefit from reading this book. In my personal opinion it is an absolute guide for those interested in the places of our ancestors or of a community.

The book itself is divided into three distinct sections, over 12 chapters. Setting the scene, sources and the final section is pulling the data all together. Starting with the definition of a One Place Study, choosing the boundaries of a study and considers the options if the study has been previously undertaken or already exists.

We then move onto chapter two; the reconstruction of the community or place, looking at maps and locations. Understanding the boundaries, looking at buildings, farms, fields and streets.Chapter three centres around the population of your place of interest, analysing the population and social structure and collating biographical information of key individuals.

Chapter four commences the section focusing on sources. In this chapter locating sources is fully explained.

Chapter five features the time period of after 1900 and is a very comprehensive chapter. Looking at the Census material of the twentieth century, photographs and pictures, in addition to other forms of media, oral history and looks at the fascinating subject of child mortality and the effect that had on the community and its sustainability. Also explored is the 1910 Inland Revenue Valuation Survey and whilst that is a source that solely covers England and Wales, it does provide as a potential research idea for areas outside of England and Wales. Does anything exist for your location in your part of the world? This chapter also includes directories, community minutes and of course the effects of the First World War. Those that served, named on a memorial, Rolls of Honour, Voters Lists. Land Registry and the National Farm Survey from the 1940's.

Chapter six looks at the nineteenth century and again is a comprehensive chapter. Starting at understanding the Census material that covers this period, household structure and how the community and society dealt with any disabilities. Tithe Maps are an important feature in this chapter as is understanding the roles that religion and the church played in the life of a community. This chapter also looks at cemeteries and crematoriums, Education and school, newspapers and parish magazines.

Chapter seven looks at the eighteenth century in a very comprehensive manner, covering Manorial records, land taxes, early military records & militia, apprentices, gravestones and documentation that was traditionally retained by the parish in the Parish Chest.

Chapter eight covers the seventeenth century. Here featured are Protestation Oath Rolls, Hearth Tax, Compton Census, Poll taxes and Surname Survey.

Chapter nine features the period before 1600 and therefore covers the Doomsday Survey, early taxes, Chancery courts, wills and Parish Records. Chapter ten features the issue around today's census.

Chapter eleven and twelve cover the last section and the issue of pulling together all the data available into a workable archive and project. Chapter eleven looks at linking people, and covers migration both into and from your place of study, trades and occupations; residential histories and families within the area that are of importance to your place, and perhaps remain in the location and standing for generations.

The final chapter features around the topic of publishing your study, whether that is through a book or website. It also looks at the aspect of funding for a study and the importance of the future of your study.

The final pages are given over to examples of some studies, a comprehensive bibliography, magazines and journals, Societies and addresses, courses and an index.

At the end of each chapter there is further reading and of course many website addresses are presented so that you can explore as you read. There is also projects that can be undertaken as you read. I particularly like this idea, as it enables you to look at your place and community, layer by layer, by person and surname and understand how the individuals were in relation to their community.

This is a good grounding for those undertaking One Place Studies anywhere. The resources are obviously aimed at those within England and Wales, but that itself can give rise to contemplation of what similar records exist in your location where ever you or your study are in the world. I personally recommend this thoroughly researched and comprehensive guide to anyone who has an interest in understanding the places in which their ancestors lived.

Putting Your Ancestors in their Place ~ A Guide to One Place Studies by Janet Few is published by Family History Partnership in February 2014 and is being launched at Who Do You Think You Are Live in London this weekend. Janet is giving a talk to accompany her book and you can purchase signed copies at the London event.

Copies are also available from the author direct and from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA). Currently the book is so new there are no copies available via Amazon at the moment because the official launch is not until 22nd February!

ISBN - 9781906280437. Author's website

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