Tuesday, 29 July 2014

My Mother’s Scrapbook

Among some of the memorabilia and mementos of my family is a scrapbook put together by my mother. It appears to have been a project she did as part of her coursework at Normal School in Calgary during her final year of training as a teacher, 1936-37. It is a fascinating glimpse into her past and an interesting study of her talents, but it is also a neat representation of life and society from that particular time-period.


The material is divided into several sections for each of which she found pictorial examples, mainly from then-current magazines. The first part is a selection of “Color Prints” that are mainly country scenes from several places around the world. Each one has vibrant colours and a restful theme. They are artfully displayed with obvious care and balance.


There are a series of pictures of the interiors of homes of the day – kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms – as well as illustrations of articles used in homes of the 1930s.





There is also a collection of plans and pictures of the exteriors of many houses. Again, all have bright colours and illustrate pleasant and peaceful surroundings. Great design and care in homemaking was a central theme in all of the pictures.




A series of vases filled with bright and varied flower-arrangements completed the section on homes.


Mom put together many pages of the latest women’s fashions, subdivided by season. All showed elegant, sophisticated and, of course, bright designs of the day. There were also a couple of pages for children’s clothing.



And there was a section for travel leaving us wondering whether these were places she hoped to see one day: Spain, the Sahara, India, San Antonio, Santa Fe and Florida.

The inclusion of one picture is curious – a greyish drawing of an old man, in a life insurance advertisement with the caption: “The misery of an old man is of interest to nobody”. Was this a social comment about the need to be optimistic in life as well as a practical recommendation to protect against any setback? I don’t really know.


The content and the mood expressed in the scrapbook, I believe, exemplify my mother’s general outlook on life – bright and cheerful. While the project may have had an assigned theme, the materials collected, especially concerning homes and fashion, may well have shown how she envisioned what her life might be like in the future.

I know that my mother continued to have a positive attitude and a happy disposition throughout her life which was tragically cut short well before her 58th birthday. Having this tangible reminder of her, made with her own hands, is especially valuable.
 
Norma Mabel Miller – student at Calgary Normal School, 1936


Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Using Old Maps

I have done a lot of work with maps and searches for maps. As a geologist, making and using maps were great part of my work. They were invaluable sources of information and mandatory for recording and presenting data and ideas for new prospects.

I use maps extensively in genealogical studies as well, searching for old addresses that appear on censuses and in other records, tracing routes that people took, through life as well as through travel. Using maps I could find out where certain people were through time and come up with some ideas of why they moved.

Small parishes are much easier to review of course. If they have limited roadways or are off the “beaten track” it is much easier to see how the residents might have interacted. Looking at towns and cities on maps, over time (even hundreds of years) allows one to see how the communities developed but also how families might have adapted during this growth if they were around the area for a few generations.

Most of my genealogical work has been confined to the British Isles. Some of the websites I have found useful in looking for old maps or in just seeing what areas looked like include the following:

A Vision of Britain Through Time – topographical, land use and administration maps from the 19th and 20th Centuries:
Baedeker’s Old Guide Books – maps scanned from various Baedeker Guidebooks which were published before 1939
Bing (the old Multimap) – good for ordnance survey and aerial photos
Caledonian Maps – a commercial site where old maps of Scotland can be purchased
Charles Booth Online Archive – a searchable resource giving access to archive material from the Booth collections of the Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Senate House Library
Genmaps – part of the Ancestry community; a site devoted to online images of English, Welsh and Scottish maps from their beginnings to the early 20th Century
Google Maps – present-day maps with a wonderful option to see areas from satellite views and street views which show the detail of individual streets and buildings
Historic MapWorks – commercial site for maps from around the world
Mapco – free access to high quality scans of rare and beautiful antique maps and views
National Library of Scotland – offers high-resolution, zoomable images of over 86,000 maps of Scotland and other areas
Old-Maps.co.uk – another commercial website where historical maps England, Wales and Scotland can be purchased
Ordnance Survey – commercial site for modern-day maps of the Great Britain and Ireland
Old London Maps – old maps of London, England area

Some of them are commercial sites, of course but even on those there is always something that you can download free to at least get some ideas from. There are many others. A Google search for “genealogy maps” leads to hundreds of results describing where old maps can be found. Or one might search for a particular area such as “Cornwood, Devon maps”.

Here is part of an 1809 ordnance map I found covering the Cornwood area. It was very useful to compare to place names found on a tax assessment list from the late 18th century. According to the tax list, two properties, “E. Rook”, on the upper part of the map, and “Nats Fm.” (also referred to as Notts and Knotts in other documents), on the lower part of the map, were owned by my 5th great-grandfather, and likely by ancestors further back from him. Knotts was sold in 1810. The family continued to own East Rook until the early 1900s.
 
Portion of 1809 ordnance survey map copied from A vision of Britain through time website; downloaded September 1, 2012
By tracing where some individuals lived in relation to their future partners I could also envision how they might have met. For example, my wife, Linda’s grandfather, Alexander Cooper, lived with his mother at 4 John Street, Glasgow, Scotland, in 1881, according to the census taken that year. His first wife, Margaret Scott, lived at 44 Hutcheson Street, just three minutes away. She was a confectioner and probably worked in a shop fairly close to her home. I like to think that they may have met and fell in love in a candy store.
 
Portion of a map of the New Plan of Glasgow with suburbs, from Ordnance and Actual Surveys constructed for the Post Office Directory by John Bartholomew and published in 1882, showing the residence locations for Alexander Cooper and Margaret Scott; copied from the National Library of Scotland website July 22, 2014.

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

We are Very British!

I read a lot about other genealogists and their searches for ancestors in continental Europe and other regions. I have even helped a few people find their family members in South America, Germany and The Netherlands. But in my family, when you back a few generations, we are very British!

My Shepheard ancestors originated in Devon, England. As I have discussed here previously, as far back as I can trace them – the early 17th century – they lived in or near the parish of Cornwood in southeastern Devon County.

My DNA (from an analysis by 23andMe) is 100% European in origin: 43% British, 14% French and German, 7% Scandinavian and 32% broadly Northern European. One of my mother’s great-grandfathers definitely came from Germany, although we have not been able to find out specifically where he was born or anything about his family. It is speculated that, five generations back from her, there may also have been a French connection, however, again, we have not be able to confirm such roots. The Scandinavian contribution may have come down through my father’s mother. Her grandfather came from the eastern part of Scotland which may have had a possible Viking influence.

I have several lines that go back through the USA, the full origins of which have not yet been determined. Most of them were likely from England or Scotland, the first people having arrived in North America in the 17th century as colonists or endured servants. My father’s side was 100% British (6 ½% of that Scottish) and my mother’s side was probably at least 85% British. That would give me at least a 92% British background; the rest is a possibly a mixture of German (6 ¼%) and French (1 ½%), somewhat lower than the 23andMe analysis suggests.

Both of my wife Linda’s parents were born in Scotland and met in Canada after they emigrated in the 1920s. I am still tracing many of her lines but have found all of her ancestors came from various parts of Scotland: her paternal line from Banffshire, Moray and Nairnshire in Northern Scotland; her maternal line from Moray and the Shetland Islands. Over 85% of her DNA (also from 23andMe) originates in Britain and Ireland and the rest mainly from Northern Europe. We have not found any family lines for Linda outside of Scotland so whatever contribution the DNA represents outside of Britain will remain a mystery. I have absolutely no explanation for the 0.1% East Asian & Native American DNA! For now we regard her heritage as being 100% Scottish.

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated.