Mar 262020

With many of us socially distancing or needing to isolate, the Society Committee has been thinking of ways we can help support you, the local and family history community.

We are pleased to announce that, to help bust the boredom of being stuck at home, we are releasing the latest edition of our newly revamped quarterly journal, Destinations, to everyone - not just our Members. This is free of charge as our little gift to the world.

Our entire back-catalogue of Journals are available in our Members-only area of the website, so if you like what you read and are interested in reading more, there's plenty for you! (Note: you don't need to be doing a One-Place Study to become a member and access all the Journals).

Click the button below to access the March 2020 edition for free:

Download PDF Version


Karen Bailey - Editor, Destinations
On behalf of the whole Committee

Mar 092020

One of the frequent topics for discussion in social media relates to software. Which type of programme do you use for what? What is the best software to store data/devise timelines/link families/create links between events/illustrate and present findings? The fact that this is a topic which crops up frequently indicates its importance to one-placers as well as family historians and surname students. Often it boils down to a few basic questions:

  • do you want a programme which is intuitive or are you happy to tinker?
  • do you want a programme which supports media or just text-based data?
  • are you using it to store and analyse data or to publish to the web?
  • are you happy to integrate various programmes or do you want to do it all in one software?
  • do you buy the software or does it run on a subscription basis?

and, perhaps the one most frequently asked:

  • does it work on a (insert piece of kit here)?

Name and Place has been in development for a number of years and was finally launched at the Rootstech conference in Salt Lake City last month. It is a database designed by Paul Carter and Pam Smith, two Society members, and is advertised as being able to ‘help reconstruct a community from Domesday to present day combining all the elements of research from records, maps, media and oral history into a single framework’ helping researchers to 'record, analyse, map, report and share’ their data. A bold claim but one well worth exploring further.

The design is cloud-based and accessible via subscription - that will attract some and put others off. The hints on their website about ‘regular updates’ suggests that it is not yet fully formed and that additional features will be added in response to feedback and requests from users. One thing that is not immediately clear is what happens to your data if you stop paying the subscription. However there certainly seems to be plenty of things to explore and the two-week free trial may be insufficient to look at the features fully, particularly when combined with that thing called work...

This has only just been launched and my knowledge is limited to promotional material and brief conversations with the developers, so this is by no means a review of features or usability. Rather it is to flag up to interested one-placers that there is a new resource around which may be worth a look. I’m saving it until I have time to do it justice before the free two weeks runs out without my having had time to have a good look. However for those who have looked, and like what they see, there are rumours of a discount code in the March issue of Destinations...

Janet Barrie

Feb 082020

Hand-loom weaver at Helmshore Textile Museum

Reconstruction of a Lancashire cottage hand-loom weaver, Helmshore Textile Museum. (c) Janet Barrie and used with permission

The Society’s Shared Endeavour on employment in your place commenced last month (see under Projects in the Members section for details). I have started by having a look at the patterns of employment in the 1841 census for my place. As Springhill is so small (all of 7 houses in 1841) I have extended it a bit to the wider village.

The youngest children recorded as working were four boys of 8 and a girl of 9, all woollen piecers. This involved running between the looms joining together broken pieces of wool which had snapped as the looms stretched out. The oldest was a man aged 86, a minister. Excluding him, the eldest was a man aged 75 and three aged 70, all woollen weavers, and an Ag lab aged 70. The oldest woman working was a 65 year old schoolmistress and another 65 year old female servant.

In a rash moment on social media I said that there were no 'ag labs' in my place. For Springhill itself it is still true, but I was surprised to find 10 in the wider area as the pattern is very much that of small scale pastoral farming of very unpromising clay/boggy land. In this snapshot nearly a third of workers were woollen weavers and wool manufacturing accounted for over half of all the jobs held. For the current crop of weavers it is difficult to tell if these were industrialised or the remnants of the hand loom industry. I suspect the focus will change over time and fully expect woollen to be replaced by cotton weavers as the century progresses. Indeed one enumerator in a later census didn’t even bother to write it out fully, resorting to ‘PLWC’ or power loom weaver of cotton instead. There are a lot of PWLCs around here.

The most unusual occupation in 1841? Chair bottomer. Not a joiner, there were three of those as well. Surprised that ‘chair bottomer’ was a full time job.

What about your places? Anyone got any younger or older people in employment? Any unusual occupations?

Janet Barrie

Jan 072020

OK so it’s a bit late to call them ‘resolutions’ but this is the time of year when we take stock and have a think about what we are going to concentrate on over the next 12 months. Here are some suggestions, some of which I intend to adopt for my Springhill study.

1. Get organised
This is an ongoing challenge for me and having started so well in October by beginning to check and organise my resources catalogue the lure of the 1861 census proved to be too strong. So over the coming months I will finish this and use it to identify and complete things which were started then abandoned - a couple of half-transcribed wills for example. Alternatively you may wish to review your study strategy. Which resources have you researched and how thoroughly? Which ones still need to be done? Janet Few’s articles in the last two issues of our journal Destinations covering how she approached her new study from scratch serve as a good framework here.

2. Review how your study is presented.
Our treasurer, Alex, spent her holiday period reviewing her Wing website and giving it a whole new look - you can see the results of her efforts at If you have a website, perhaps it is time to have a critical look at it and see if it can be improved or freshened up. If not, perhaps this is the time to start one. I have received information I wouldn’t otherwise have from visitors to my site. Alternatively you may want to consider producing a book, a heritage walk, an exhibit at a local history fair, a project for local schoolchildren, a Facebook group...

3. Get connected
A website is one way to do this of course but is limited in terms of interaction. Many OPSers use Facebook or Twitter, some more intrepid souls use Instagram or Pinterest. Whilst these may be more flexible in some ways, they receive less traffic than Facebook or Twitter and so you will have fewer chances to connect with others. Interacting with other OPSers in this way is a great way of sharing ideas, chat and corny jokes. If you are on social media, please join in the #OnePlaceWednesday chat on Twitter.

A second way to connect is through the Society’s annual Shared Endeavour. More details on this year’s project will be released to members shortly, but as a teaser you might just want to look if you have a census or two for your place available.

Don’t forget the value of personal contact either. The Society is planning to relaunch webinairs in the near future in which members can gather and chat online about an aspect of our studies. We are also planning a presence at THE Genealogy Show so pop by and say hi. Those of us attending other shows also arrange meet-ups from time to time. If you are going to a show why not check if any other members are going (via social media is probably easiest) and arrange to meet for coffee and chat?

4. Give back/pay forwards
Again there are a number of ways we can do this. Is there a relative newcomer to one-place studies who would appreciate a mentor? Is there a transcription project in which you could become involved? A local history or heritage group you can join? A museum or community project which welcomes volunteers? A random act of kindness for a fellow researcher?

5. Explore a new resource or record set
Your study is almost certainly not ‘finished’ - whose is? Is this the year in which you get to grips with a new record set which might shed light on your place? It might be worth exploring a few members’ websites (see the links in the Studies section of this site) then brainstorming potential new resources and see where they are available.

6. Visit an archive
Partly because not everything is online and partly because nothing can beat holding a document your study residents were involved in creating.

7. Research and record current events
This year’s current affairs is tomorrow’s history! The best chance to document changes and preserve the associated resources is now.

This is not exhaustive. What are other folks' goals for the next 12 months?

Janet Barrie

Dec 132019

I love source documents, with their immediacy and relevance. They were created for a specific purpose and their utility says a lot about the processes of daily life in our places.

Obviously a one-place study is looking at the history of our places. Whilst doing so, it is good too to keep an eye on the documents being produced as part of current events in our places. These become the primary sources for tomorrow’s history.

One example from my place recently is the range of documents associated with planning permission. Over the past 12 months or so there has been an application to build on the field across from Springhill Lane, formerly the paddock for the Springhill estate. This of course triggered the usual set of objections from the residents with the to-ing and fro-ing of correspondence, the engagement of consultants to write reports on this and that with counter-arguments from consultants coming from the other side and so on. All of which produces lots of lovely documents to peruse. Even better they are all freely available online, although sadly not copyright-free.

Together they give a good summary of the process:
• exactly where the proposed dwelling is to be built and what changes will be needed to facilitate this
• what materials will be used with their rationale. These give insight into the construction of other buildings in the area and an indication of their date of construction.
• the discussions regarding highways focus on the heritage of retaining two stone gateposts and repairing vaccary walling whilst undertaking any widening.
• a summary of the objections of the residents and others.

There are some surprises however:
• the document from the Land Registry used as a basis for the plans has one of the properties in the wrong place. What is even more surprising is that the Land Registry entry for the house in question is correct.
• the application refers to the lane being the front access to two houses and rear access to two more. In fact it is the front access to all four.
• there is a reference to police involvement which would make a juicy story in 20 years time but might not actually have occurred
• there is discrepancy between the two expert ecologists on the species of trees in the field

So even official documents can get it wrong and need to be crossed-checked.

These documents in turn refer to others. The ‘urban boundary’ makes an appearance (*check files* yes, got that one) as does the ‘conservation area’ (yes, got that one too) together with the ‘landscape report’ and ‘housing strategy’ amongst others. These help set the proposed changes in the wider context but also are primary documents in their own right, arising out of the need to define what should or not be conserved or built upon. So what questions and influences drove those decisions?

There was a series of major development in my place in the early 1930s. I would love to find the plans (houses were subdivided, outbuildings converted into dwellings etc) and highways impact reports (it coincided with a period of major road widening). Most of all I would love to know the grounds for objection by the current residents and how these were answered. I have spend many a happy hour in the library going through the Council minutes for the time which are models of brevity and raise more questions than they answer. Collecting these documents now lead to preservation of the arguments and form the basis for research and telling of the story in the future.

Janet Barrie