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Friday, 27 September 2013

Tracing Your Ancestors' Childhood reviews

 'Sue Wilkes has produced a very detailed book on how to trace your ancestors’ childhood...The book is divided into two parts. The first is in chapters, each dealing with issues that might affect a child’s life; e.g. The Poor Law, Growing up at Work, Education and, very topically, Children in Wartime. This detailed book will help to provide a broad brush picture of life for your ancestors as children in a particular period. The second part of the book is a Research Guide which lists many of those Archives and Repositories. It lists useful addresses, twelve pages of web-sites (some free!), Education Sources and more, under helpful group headings...definitely one for your bookshelf to dip into now and in the future as a reference source'. Ann Gynes, FFHS, December 2013. 

'Over the years, many books have described how children and young people lived in the past. Many others have  shown us technically how to trace the lives of our ancestors of one sort or another.  This book does both, pulling off the now fashionable - and, it must be said, deeply satisfying - meshing of the two genres of social history and genealogy with aplomb.
While Wilkes helpfully begins by recapping on the basic genealogical sources (censuses, certificates and parish records), these soon take an almost subsidiary place among a panoply of other illuminating records from the archives. From cradle rolls and vaccination records, to school exemption certificates, apprenticeship books and records of transportation, 19th and 20th century sources for the study of childhood and youth seem endless...
The eight chapters of part one, themed around different aspects of social history, are vibrantly written, peppered with examples and 'case studies' of real youngsters who grin or grimace briefly at us from the records.
The second half of the book is an unrivalled resource pack for the family historian on the location and accessibility of relevant archives and repositories, as well as list of useful websites, addresses and places to visit...
While child mortality is obviously discussed, the emphasis here is on the way young people of the past survived and triumphed over their varied early experiences, to the point where they grew up and were able to become our ancestors'.  Ruth A. Symes, Who Do You Think You Are?, November 2013.

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