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TNA Podcast – Time travel: a journey through the timetables of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway 1860-1901

22 Aug

You might have guessed from the title that the latest podcast from The National Archives would catch my attention. To many “a journey through the timetables of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway will probably sound incredibly dull, but do give it a chance.

I know I am somewhat biased, because as I mentioned last week the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway was my local railway company, and the talk mainly focuses on stations within Sussex and on routes with which I am familiar. Whilst the location is not particularly critical to the theme of the talk, it was a help because I was able to visualise the routes he was talking about, which is just as well because none of the visual presentation appears to be available on the TNA website.

After an introduction to the history of the railway timetable Dr Wakeford illustrated some of the ways in which data from these historic timetables can be used. I do have several historic railway (and bus) timetables in my collection, but have never carried out any serious study of their contents in the way that Dr Wakeford has.

He used various examples to show how many aspects of rail travel changed over time. From drastically reducing the time taken to travel from A to B and increasing the range of opportunities, to showing how increasing railway traffic would affect those working on the railway.

Of course I couldn’t listen to it without wondering what impact the railway had on my ancestors. It is something I have wondered about many times before, but never really explored. Take for example the TROWER family of Henfield, Sussex. Did the arrival of the railway (the Horsham to Shoreham line briefly mentioned in the podcast) in 1861 increase the mobility of the family? Did the children spread their wings further when it came time to leave home? Did the family seek employment further afield?

It would be interesting to take a closer look at the mobility of successive generations of TROWERs, but that is an awful lot of data to process, fortunately I do have a lot of that data already available, but it would still be a lot of work. Maybe I will add it to my list of things to do.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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Two great podcasts today

29 May

Whilst sorting through the files and folders on my hard drive today I listened to two new podcast episodes. I must admit that I am rather biased about these two podcasts, because they are both subjects close to my heart.

First was the next episode of the BBC Radio 4 programme Ramblings, in which Clare Balding walked part of the South Downs Way from Ditchling Beacon to Devil’s Dyke. It was wonderful to hear her talking about some of the places that I had seen on my walk last week, and some of the things I had mentioned on my blog post.

Next up was the latest podcast from The National Archives, this was a talk entitled Lost London Pubs given by Jack Adams at the Pub History Society Conference I attended back in February and wrote about here. It was great to hear the talk again and I hope that some of the other talks will appear over the next few weeks.

It is very rare to get a podcast that is so close to home, relevant and interesting, but to get two come along at the same time is unheard of, but nevertheless welcome.

The latest podcast from The National Archives: Counting the People

22 Mar

Some of the podcasts published by The National Archives are of more interest to genealogists than others. The National Archives contains a wide variety of record types, so naturally their talks (and subsequent podcasts) try to reflect this.

The latest podcast Counting the People is a real gem, and will be of interest to any family historian with an interest in finding out what it took to actually make the census happen.

Audrey Collins gives a sometimes humorous “behind the scenes” look at some of the people involved, some of the problems encountered in taking the census and many other aspects of the decennial census.

I would recommend this podcast (just over an hour long) and the accompanying notes to all family historians, as it will help explain why we may not always find what we are looking for on the census, as well as describing how the whole enumeration process worked.

BBC Radio 4 – Tracing Your Roots (Myths and Truths)

9 Sep

The latest edition of Tracing Your Roots from BBC Radio 4 (available via podcast for a limited time) was about family myths and legends. There were four very brief examples, with a short discussion on how each of the stories could be proved or disproved.

This got me thinking about my own family myths and legends and the fact that I don’t appear to have any in my family tree.

I have tried to remember if I was ever told any stories as a child or whether there was anything I wanted to try and prove when I started my research, but I don’t think there ever was. No criminals amongst my ancestors, no stories of relations moving to far off lands and making their fortune, no missing millions waiting to be discovered and I didn’t think I might have been descended from the illegitimate child of some distant King or Queen.

Plenty of mysteries and puzzles have turned up since I started researching, like why did my grandfather end up at school in London, but nothing actually from the start that I wanted to prove or made me start researching my family tree.

I suppose there is only one myth that I had and that was one that I created soon after I started researching. I rather foolishly believed that my ancestors and relations were not very interesting and never did anything unusual. How wrong could I be!

Was there a particular family story that you wanted to prove that got you started in family history research, or was it just general curiosity?

The National Archives – War on Film videocasts

3 Sep

The National Archives have today released the first of a series of videocasts entitled “War on Film” focusing on aspects of the Second World War.

The first videocast is Hope and Glory and is a short but useful introduction to life in London at the start of the war and during the Blitz. It features extracts and footage taken from The National Archives. It can be found on The National Archives website or on their YouTube channel.

BBC Radio 4 – Tracing Your Roots – Wartime Losses (available via podcast)

3 Sep

Just when my mp3 player was starting to gather dust from the lack of genealogy podcasts, along comes the latest series of Tracing Your Roots on BBC Radio 4. The good news is that the show is available as a podcast from the BBC website (for a limited time).

This first episode is entitled Wartime Losses, and picks up on the Second World War anniversary theme. The programme synopsis gives brief details of the three case studies featured, all people trying to find out more about their fathers.

There is some really useful advice in this programme (links are provided in the synopsis) for people in a similar situation, trying to trace a parent who had been “lost” after or during the war. Two of the cases prove that there can be a happy ending, but it is still by no means an easy task, but there are now several organisations who may be able to help.

The National Archives: Forgeries in the archives podcast

29 Aug

The latest podcast from The National Archives is a real gem. I listened to it on the bus coming home from Brighton this lunchtime. The podcast is called Forgeries in the archives, and covers a broad range of historical documents, and forgers and their motives, not just those cases that involved archives.

It was fascinating to hear about some of the characters involved, their motives and the methods involved in creating their forgeries and how they were eventually uncovered. It then goes to explain that new evidence has meant that some documents which were originally believed to be forgeries may not be after all.

It is unlikely that family historians will have to worry about forgeries (although there is one case mentioned involving a parish register) because as the speaker (David Thomas) points out it is mainly famous individuals like Shakespeare and Hitler that feature in forgeries, presumably because this is where the money and fame can found.

Sadly, despite what it say at the start of the podcast there is no further information on the website, but there is more information on the case involving The National Archives on their website, in the 2007 Freedom of Information disclosure log, including copies of the documents and police witness statements.

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