Answers in the wind: using local weather studies for family history research
Records of local weather events are a neglected resource for historians wanting to explain family events and family patterns. In the UK, the collation of weather reports commenced in 1860, Gordon Manley’s work in the 1950s produced the Central England Temperature series from 1659, and the National Archive and National Meteorological Archive hold many individual records, including over a thousand private weather diaries. The family historian can use documents associated with the parish chest to support the investigative cycle of research, analysis, hypothesis and proof. With that method in place, explanations can be developed from accessible and easily understood sources. The process leads us towards a closer understanding of our ancestors’ relationship with their world – the weather is an experience which we share with them, and a broad awareness of the local climate can provide a means of ‘colouring in’ their lives.