Using Postcards for Family History

In my article The Many Ways to Consume History, I gave examples of ways that I consume history, most examples were of public history and from a non-academic source. One of the ways I stated I consume history is by collecting antique postcards. This Easter Monday I visited a Postcard and Collectable Paper Fair that is scheduled for my local recreation centre once or twice a … Continue reading Using Postcards for Family History

1881: When the River Mersey Froze

Britain shivers and many people who have it much tougher over the winter months mock our unpreparedness and histrionics regarding late winter – and very early spring – snowfall. However, we’ve just had our coldest March day on record. It’s an unusual start to spring with the ‘Beast from the East’ and Storm Emma affecting our weather for several days. It might be an unusual … Continue reading 1881: When the River Mersey Froze

Killed by Enemy Action: A Family Tragedy

On Tuesday 17 September 1940, Joseph Boyland, Joey to his brothers, was machine-gunned walking down Scotland Road, Liverpool. He died the following day at the city’s Royal Infirmary. Aged fourteen, he had left school and was about to ‘go to sea’. The Merchant Navy was a common occupation for young men in Liverpool at the time. The Liverpool Evening News briefly reported on 18 September … Continue reading Killed by Enemy Action: A Family Tragedy

Walton Prison’s First Execution: Elizabeth Berry, Serial Poisoner?

Thirty-two years after being built, Walton Prison in Liverpool witnessed its first execution. On 14 March 1887, Elizabeth Berry suffered the ignominy of being the first prisoner and one of only two women to be executed there. The execution chamber was hastily built. It appears that a reprieve for the prisoner was expected and when this was not granted, the Coach House, an outbuilding where … Continue reading Walton Prison’s First Execution: Elizabeth Berry, Serial Poisoner?

A Recognition Long Due

The French Government has awarded several thousand World War II veterans who took part in the liberation of France the rank of Chevalier (knight) of the Legion d’Honneur and its accompanying medal. The Legion d’Honneur is France’s highest military honor and is in recognition of the selfless heroism that was displayed during the Normandy landings and the wider campaign in liberating France. French President, Francoise … Continue reading A Recognition Long Due

Snapshot of Family History

My maternal grandparents, William and Anne Gray, had eight children, three born in Drogheda, Ireland and five in Liverpool, England.  My grandfather died in 1941, leaving my grandmother a widow for 54 years.  One by one, all their children left home and started their own families.  My uncles Johnny, Harry and Eddie and my auntie Mary, all settled in Australia.  Of the remaining four, two … Continue reading Snapshot of Family History

Digital v Physical Archives: a Personal Account, Part 1

 I began my family tree research in my late teens.  I sat down with my father and listed all family members past and present that he could remember.  Still only eighteen, I moved from Merseyside to Wimbledon and bought a copy of Tracing Your Family Tree, by Jean Cole and Michael Armstrong.  I was ideally placed to visit the capital’s repositories, but then hit a … Continue reading Digital v Physical Archives: a Personal Account, Part 1