Bricks in the wall: family tree research can uncover useful historical information
Case studies of two branches of the Read family demonstrate the value of genealogical research as exemplars of historical scholarship, as well as contributing new evidence for further research: bricks in the wall. Wider research into sources beyond the usual births, marriages, deaths and parish records provides information relevant to broader historical research. The family case studies exemplify the economic factors driving the movement of people from rural to urban areas which was typical of the prolonged agricultural depression in Britain of the 1820s to 1850s, a period in which the economy was struggling to adjust to the post-Napoleonic War period. These case studies provide
examples of the responses of a tenant farmer and a family of shoemakers. Their subsequent experience of migration to London from Suffolk reflects the problems of this period. One branch established a successful butchery business, but suffered the ravages of a very urban disease: tuberculosis. The other branch shows the poverty that formerly well-paid artisan shoemakers suffered with the industrialisation of their craft.
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