In Search of the Real ‘Blitz Spirit’

Few now survive who lived through World War II. Those remaining today can provide valuable accounts of their experiences, but such memories largely involve wartime childhood. As family historians, how can we connect with the range of experiences of adult civilians of the time?

Luckily, a remarkable collection of diaries in the UK’s Mass Observation Archive (MOA) allows us to step into the hearts and minds of the Blitzers.… Read the rest

Summer Lovin’: Marriage Trends Over the Generations

Bride Ann weds her groom Antony, 2 June 1962. Photo: Mr James Ackerley, CC BY-NC 2.0.

Spring is here, the sky is blue,

Birds all sing as if they knew

Today’s the day we’ll say “I do”,

And we’ll never be lonely any more…

Dixie Cups, “Chapel of Love”, April 1964.
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Asking the Right Question: Part 3

Picture this scene: you absolutely love chocolate cake and have decided to bake your own. You’ve even bought a cake tin especially for the purpose. You’re thrilled. You can’t wait to get started. Whenever you look at the tin, you think, “that’s the chocolate cake tin”. It’s become so fixed in your mind as the chocolate cake tin that it doesn’t once occur to you to use it to make other flavours of cake: lemon, coffee, blueberry, vanilla…and so there’s a whole load of things you end up missing out on.… Read the rest

Palaeography: A Digital Toolkit

For the past few months, the UK National Archives (TNA) has made its digital downloads free of charge until more normal operation resumes. Perhaps inevitably, the keen response in genealogical circles (including in popular magazines such as Who Do You Think You Are?) has focused on some of the main sources used in genealogy research – whether that’s military records, wills and probate documents, or poor law records.… Read the rest