Tracing Your Trade and Craftsmen Ancestors : A Guide For Family Historians
Almost all of us have a tradesman or craftsman a butcher, baker or candlestick maker somewhere in our ancestry, and Adèle Emm's handbook is the perfect guide to finding out about them about their lives, their work and the world they lived in. She introduces the many trades and crafts, looks at their practices and long traditions, and identifies and explains the many sources you can go to in order to discover more about them and their families.
Chapters cover the guilds, the merchants, shopkeepers, builders, smiths and metalworkers, cordwainers and shoemakers, tailors and dressmakers, coopers, wheelwrights and carriage-makers, and a long list of other trades and crafts. The training and apprenticeships of individuals who worked in these trades and crafts are described, as are their skills and working conditions and the genealogical resources that preserve their history and give an insight into their lives. A chapter covers the general sources that researchers can turn to the National Archives, the census, newspapers, wills, and websites and gives advice on how to use them.
Adèle Emm's introduction will be fascinating reading for anyone who is researching the social or family history of trades and crafts.
A very recent addition to the Tracing your Ancestors series, this book is a useful guide to trade and craft forebears. The author is a very experienced researcher and is able to use examples from her own family history as illustrations of how certain searches are done and what one can expect. She describes the Guilds and their history and the location of any records that may survive from them.
There are sections on many trades and crafts grouped into chapters - for instance Building Trades and Clothing and Allied Trades and within those, usually a brief description of the history of the particular trade and mention of any archives, both virtual and physical, which may hold records. As someone who has been researching this subject, since the majority of my ancestors are in trade or craft occupations, the book confirms what I gradually discovered, which is that surviving records in this area are disappointingly relatively few. However, there is advice for maximising the sources that exist, together with some more lateral ways to find out at least something - particularly the use of local and trade papers and of estate agents' archives.
The book is especially strong on books and other media that offer insight into the professions themselves, workers' pay and conditions and the traditions, customs and rituals associated with them. These are found in the text, with web addresses usually in bold and in a select bibliography in an appendix. There is also a chapter with brief paragraphs on other related genealogical resources and how they complement the more specialised ones.
There is a fairly comprehensive index but it would have been even more useful had it contained sub headings in places - some entries have rather a long set of locators to wade through.
This book would be useful for anyone who has got a little way into their family tree and, thanks to the Victorian census, has come across one or more family members with a trade. While they may struggle to find as much personal information as they might wish in the available sources, they will be able to gain a great insight into the kind of life their trade or craft ancestors lived.
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