Over the course of April we are exploring the studies registered with the Society for One-Place Studies featuring those that correspond to the relevant letter of the alphabet.

What is a One Place Study? That is a fine question and rather than me explain, I will refer you to the Society’s informative website. If you are interested in joining us and /or registering a study we of course welcome you. You can find the joining information HERE.

E is for...


Embarking upon a project, such as a One-Place study can be daunting, and typically as with any project potential researchers can look to books for the answer of How do I do this?

A little earlier this year I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing, in my opinion the perfect how to book when it comes to One-Place Studies. Let me introduce you to:

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

The book has been thoroughly researched and whilst it is heavily slanted at such studies in the United Kingdom, those who are pursuing 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 twelve chapters, including setting the scene, sources and the final section for pulling the data all together. Chapter one starts with the definition of a One Place Study, followed by choosing the boundaries of a study and considering the options if the study has been previously undertaken or already exists.

We then move onto chapter two which explores the reconstruction of the community or place, looking at maps and locations. This chapter includes understanding the boundaries and 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, and oral history. It considers 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 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, including those that served, named on a memorial, Rolls of Honour, Voters Lists. Land Registry and the National Farm Survey from the 1940s also receive coverage.

Chapter six looks at the nineteenth century and again is a comprehensive chapter. It begins with 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 detail, 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, migration both into and from your place of study and trades and occupations. The chapter includes residential histories and families within the area that are of importance to your place, and who perhaps remain in the location for generations.

The final chapter addresses 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 are 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 was recently launched at Who Do You Think You Are Live in London 2014. Copies are also available from the author at http://thehistoryinterpreter.wordpress.com/publications/, ISBN – 9781906280437.

Author’s website and email.

Julie Goucher, A-Z Challenge Coordinator

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