Music has an impact on all our lives whether we like it or not but how did it affect the lives of our ancestors?
Well music has always been around in one form or another for thousands of years. In Germany a flute was found which using carbon dating was aged at between 42,000 and 43,000 years old. So music has really always been around even if just through the tweet of a bird or the roar of a dinosaur. Maybe the T-Rex’s had a roar band! Wonder if they sang we love to boogie, sorry.
Church organs would probably be the music most of our ancestors were most exposed to. Every Sunday since the first organs appeared since the 900’s they would have heard them played.
Most churches wouldn’t have had an organ on such a grand scale but most of the larger churches would have had one of some form. So our ancestors would have been mainly exposed to religious music. In later years the organists may have started playing no religious music as well. I have an article from the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent in 1867 which mentions a concert my Great Great Grandfather Frederick Staton and his brother William played a piano recital in. Frederick was 17 years old and went on to become the organist at Worksop Priory.
Over the years those of the higher classes or those who were servants would have been exposed to music from the lute and flute to drums and harp.
By the Victorian era most people would have had access to a music hall as most large towns had them. They would be vast halls where travelling groups would play. These music hall developed in the 19th century and soon the songs became more risky and there would have been more of a celebration/fun feel to them than in the previous years when you would have worn your Sunday best and sat quietly and listened.
Everything changed in 1877 when Thomas Edison invented the phonograph which meant people could have purchased music in their own home. They could buy a record and play what they wanted. It was still probably classical music, but at least you could stay at home. From here music when through a revolution. Musicians could be in one country but sell their music worldwide. Not only that but singers could record their songs and they could gain worldwide popularity. It was in 1895 when the Australian opera singer Dame Nellie Melba had her first recorded album.
Music stay either classical or easy listening until the 1950’s with the likes of Elvis Presley releasing his first hit Heartbreak hotel and by 1957 he had released Jailhouse Rock which was so different from anything that had be around before. Can you imagine what it was like for the different generations of our ancestors? The older family members would have been appalled at the music whereas the younger one would have been so relieved that a musical revolution was starting.
So from here the music changed drastically. There was the Beatles, the Who and the Rolling Stones in the 1960’s. The 1970’s gave use Black Sabbath, Bob Seager and Alice Cooper. The 1980’s gave use the best music ever with everything from Bryan Adams, Jonny Hates Jazz, Duran Duran and so many others and music has just kept on developing to where it is today.
It’s not all pop and rock though. Classical is still around but in different ways. Most films have fantastic music scores from the likes of the great John Williams with the Indian Jones film and Jurassic Park to John Barry with the theme to James Bond. Also pop groups use orchestras in their hits. One of my favourites is Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. The use of the orchestra just lifts the song to another level.
So I’ll leave you with this comment from a member of my family to the younger members when they asked for Olly Murs to be played and the reply was “What is an Olly Murs?” So nothing changes, each generation feels their music is better than the one before, but all are relevant as they have had an impact on our ancestors and help you get a feel for what the heard and we can listen to the same music as they did.
The development of the internal combustion engine would have had a great impact on our ancestors. It would have changed every aspect of their lives but how. It’s had an impact on my life. I used to love working on old cars with my family. We had a Morris Traveller with both wet and dry rot, an Austin A40 that a hedgehog lived in and we rebuilt a mini from a virtual right of.
Well let’s start with the history of vehicles. The first form of transport was the horse and they have been domesticated for over 6000 years. They were teamed up with carts in prehistoric times and so the horse and cart was invented. But when was what we would call a motor vehicle developed.
Well Leonard Da Vinic was known to have drawn what we would recognise as a car in the late 15th/ early 16th century. So that’s in the reign of King Henry VII. The first motorised carriage as they were called was developed in France in 1769 by Nicolas – Joseph Cugnot. This was powered by steam and he developed it to move heavy military equipment.
This eventually developed into the steam car which usually only carried 2 people.
Next came the petrol powered car developed in the 1880’s in Germany by Karl Benz. These were the preserve of the wealth as they were very expansive so if your ancestors had one then they were doing really well for themselves. The first mass produced car was the Model T Ford developed by Henry Ford in the USA. He opened his first mass production line in 1913.
So how much did a car cost to buy?
Well in 1913 in the USA a Model T cost about $850 so about £16,093 today.
In 1931 a Morris Minor would have cost £100.
In the 1950’s a Ford Anglia cost £310.
In 1959 a new Mini cost £497
In the 1960’s a Lotus Cortina was £1,100 and a Hilman Imp was £508.
In the 1970’s an E-Type Jaguar was £3,139 and a Ford Capri was £4035.
In the 1980’s the Ford Escort RS was £6,700 and the Rover 800 was £19,944.
All the above prices are from https://www.motoringresearch.com/car-news/cost-car-year-born/ . So the better off your ancestor was the better the car they could afford.
This is believed to be the first member of my family to be pictured with a car which from the number plate can be dated around the 1930’s.
So how did the car change our ancestor’s lives? Well if you think about it before the development of them the only way to move around was horse and cart and if you didn’t have access to one it was on foot. You could use the train, but it had to pass near where you lived and it may not have gone where you wanted to. The car meant you could go directly from A to B.
Now obviously your ancestor would have had to have been able to afford to buy a car, and from the prices above they would have had to have been well paid to be able to afford them. But if they could buy one just think how much freedom they would have had. You could have gone literally anywhere. Places you couldn’t go before as although they were local they were too far to walk to could now be explored. Also new holiday destinations. No more going on the Train to Scarborough or Blackpool with everyone else as that’s where the train or coach went. No now you could go to the towns and villages further afield where not many people went, so the holiday was more exclusive.
The car also meant that as families moved further apart from each other they could visit more easily. My Grandparents moved north away from their families but could all pile into the car to drive south to visit them.
The vehicle also meant new experiences. Foods from further away could be enjoyed more easily as they could be moved around the country by train and vehicle. So if you wanted a Devon delicacy but lived in North Yorkshire you had more chance of being able to buy it locally.
So many people think the car is bad but just think how much of an impact they had on our ancestors lives. They opened up new avenues for them. But please remember those like my Great, Great Grandad William who was a farrier and saddle maker. It spelled an end to their lively hood as more cars, less horse shoes. Maybe they just branched out into tyres instead. In the case of William he died before cars took over.
I thought I’d look at the world of heraldry this week and probably another week as well. This is something many genealogists and historians will have come across, but what does it actually mean.
Well to consider the subject fully would be a huge undertaking so I thought I’d look at the basics.
First of all what is heraldry? Well in basic terms it is the images on a shield or a coat of arms used to identify an individual.
Anyone can apply to the college of arms to have their heraldry registered and it can in include symbols which are important to you.
Right I’ll start with shield.
These are the main backgrounds or ordinaries that are found on shields (please excuse my bad drawing skills and spelling it should read saltire not saltaire, that’s a place in Bradford).
These can be coloured with the colours of heraldry which are gold/yellow for generosity, silver/white for peace, black for grief, blue for truth and loyalty, green for hope and loyalty of the heart and red indicates a warrior.
Now you can just leave your shield at that, but usually symbols are placed on top of the ordinaries.
But what do the ordinaries mean. Well it seems most of them have a meaning.
The chief denotes that the bearer has authority and domination over others.
The saltire indicates that the holder of the shield has resolve.
The cross derives from the crusades and may be used to show the bearers Christian faith.
The fess shows that the holder is a man of honour.
The pale shows the bearer has military strength.
The chevron denoted the holder’s faithfulness to the crown.
The bend denoted defence and protection and the bend sinister may have denoted the holder held defence and protection in high esteem but was illegitimate. Why was that important?
The pall denoted a link to the clergy.
The others of pile, checky and quarter were more of a decoration thing.
Probably on of the most famous shields belonged to King Richard the Lionheart of England. His shield was believed to be a white background with a red cross i.e. the St Georges cross with the 3 lions (except there not lions there leopards as that’s what they were called when they were first used by Richard 1) denoting Richards rule over England, Normandy and Aquitaine.
Some of the more common symbols are lions/leopards for courage, dragons for valour and protection, horses for readiness to support King and country, the unicorn for courage virtue and strength and bears for strength. Patterns are also used such as the fleur-de-lis which indicates the English Kings claim to throne of France.
If you consider the Queen’s Royal Standard it shows the harp of Ireland, the rampant (standing up growling) lion of Scotland and the 3 lions of England. So basically you can design your own branding so when you were on the battlefield you could be recognised which if you think about it is silly as people know who you are, so they could make a beeline for you on the battlefield if they didn’t like you.
So who could have a shield like this well it was only usually the Monarch, the nobility and the knights. But their servants would wear the design on their clothes so they could be recognised as belonging to their master. It would also be worn as a badge of honour so they could say look at me I work for ……. And you don’t.
So although shield design these days is seen as mainly a medieval thing it was in fact the branding of its day. The shield was the nobel or knights logo.
I’ll look at heraldry again soon and focus on the coats of arms of the nobility and also towns and cities.
I thought I would consider how we record our family history research this week.
When I first started I printed everything out and put it into folders on the bookcase. I organised it alphabetically and by maternal and paternal lines. I then drew a family tree as I went along and put this in the front of the folder. I also built my family tree using Ancestry. I soon decided this method wasn’t working for me though and rethought.
So the next step was to get some family tree software and start building my own tree on the PC. I also started downloading the documents I found along the way and putting them into folders on my PC. This meant I had access to all my documents even when I was offline.
I was still recording my findings in notebooks and drawing trees as I went along and was producing loads of papers and documents in the folders. So I decided that the print outs would have to stop due to the large amounts of papers I had knocking around. This lead me to using research sheets where I would record my findings as I went along and thus just have several sheets of paper per ancestor. But still it wasn’t working for me as I couldn’t find a sheet laid out how I wanted so I decided to make my own research sheet.
On this sheet I could record all the information I wanted about each ancestor and I find this works for me. I designed it using Excel and can print out one sheet per person researching and fill in everything about them as a research aid. I can also fill it in on excel so I have a document saved on the PC.
I also decided to stop hand drawing family trees. I started by printing off pedigree charts (small 3 generation family trees) and filling those in but these were never big enough. So I found a localish retailer called My History (https://www.my-history.co.uk/index.html) and purchased charts of them. I have a 10 generation chart which one day I will get round to filling in and framing. But I still wanted to print out as I went along. By using family history software (I use Family Historian) you can get the software to build the tree for you and print it out or send it off to specialist printers who will do it for you and you don’t have to worry about bad handwriting!
But don’t despair. If you don’t want to purchase some software there is another way using Excel once again.
This is a family tree I produced using Excel. The beauty of this is that you can add line and columns until you get it write, so no more discarded sheets of paper ending up in the recycling.
This is the page showing how the above tree looks on the Excel sheet.
This whole process took me about 5 minutes to produce and is easy to do.
Storing files on the PC is also a factor that can prove difficult. When you’ve got many files in a folder it can become confusing as to which order the ancestor are in. So off onto the Internet I went and I found some free software which allows you to assign colours to your folders. So now I assign a different colour per ancestor and each folder has the same colour per generation. So generation 1 is red, 2 is green, 3 is blue, 4 is grey and so on.
This means at a glance I can find the generation I’m looking for and thus saves me time.
So there are loads of free and cheap ways to store your ancestors information, be it on paper in files on the bookcase or on your PC (please remember to save your files on a memory stick or external hard drive as well or even on the cloud so you never lose all your hard work) or if you decide to purchase some software (there is loads out there to choose from) then do it in a way that works for you and you can find what you’re looking for at a glance and makes it easy for you and your family and decedents to enjoy.
I was reading an article the other day which talked about how eye colour can determine where about in the world your ancestors came to and I it got me thinking.
Well in full the article was discussing how everyone who has blue eyes is descended from one person who was born near the Black Sea in Europe during the Neolithic era and how the decedents of the original blue eyed person moved north throughout Europe to what we know as Scandinavia now and thus became the Vikings. This is why there is a belief that everyone with blue eyes is of Viking decent.
Well although this is possibly true I want to raise a point. People with blue eyes can have children with other coloured eyes so those of us who don’t have blue eyes can still be descended from the original blue eyed person. I have hazel eyes from my Dad’s side but my Mum’s side is predominantly blue eyed so although I’m not blue eyed I can still claim a Viking heritage to our mutual black sea ancestor.
So how’s this work?
So as you can see the colour of your parent’s eyes doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get the same colour. So if you take the second row as hazel and blue I had a 50/50 chance of getting blue or hazel eyes. So even if 2 people with brown eyes have a child it may have blue eyes after their eye colour has established (most children in the west are born with blue eyes but they may change colour by the time they are 4 years old). So the statement that began this entire thinking process is correct but flawed.
From here I got on to thinking what else we have inherited form our ancestors. Well I would like to start by thanking my Mum’s side of the family for my hair. I have silly hair that thinks it’s funny to be curly. Now I don’t mind that, I like it when it’s nice curly but it likes to be messy curly once it’s been brushed so I look like I’ve been pulled through a hedge backwards.
Hair colour can also be inherited. My grandpa had black hair which he inherited from his father but his mother had ginger hair. This ginger can be seen in her descendants. This hair colour inheritance doesn’t always follow though especially with my paternal Grandma as she had blue hair amongst others when I was little!
Inherited traits don’t have to be visible though, they can be in the form off illnesses. There is much evidence of disease such as cancer can be more prevalent in some families and rare in others. Also conditions such as sickle cell anaemia are hereditary. There is much evidence to suggest conditions such as depression runs in families can be passed from generation to generation.
So you do inherit part of who you are from your ancestors be it health or eye colour but in the end you are uniquely you and these days if you don’t like what you inherit you can change it. Hair dye, hair straighter/curlers and coloured contact lens are all available so you can make yourself look how you want. If everyone in your family has brown hair and you want blue go for it, just make sure you have photos of you with your natural hair colour so future generations don’t think you descended from a rare hair coloured species.
When you get into genealogy it’s always fun to be able to visit where your ancestors lived and effectively walk in their footsteps. So one good way to do this is to go to where your ancestors lived.
This is something my Grandpa did in the 1990’s when he went to the time of Thorpe St Andrew in Norfolk and I recreated in 2010. Thorpe is a town just 3 miles from Norwich on the banks of the river Yare. Today the town has a population of just over 11,000 and the most notable event in the town was in 1874 when a train crashed killing 25 people and injuring 75.
Thorpe is the centre of one branch of my family, the Weeds family. Now not all member of this branch came from Thorpe but from my 6 times great Grandfather when his son John Weeds was born in the then village in 1755. The last member of my family with a connection to the town was my Grandpa when he was christened in St Andrew’s church in December 1914 just days before his father went to war.
So what do you need to consider before you make a trip.
Well make sure your research is correct. You don’t want to make a trip and be disappointed not to find what you’re looking for and then discover you were in the wrong place. It’s not uncommon for several places to have the same name so it pays to check.
Make sure you have the research you want with you and have made a list of anything you want to discover while you’re there. This means you’re not flapping while trying to find some information you need only to find it’s a home on your desk.
Set out your goals before you go. Don’t just go and make it up as you go along. This could lead to you not achieving everything you want to and finding your trip disappointing.
Make sure you know everything you need before you go. Look into what graveyards there are so you know where to go. It’s not uncommon for the church to have a grave yard as well as a cemetery. Make sure you’ve noted which place your ancestors are buried in. If you have time once you have finished what you set out to achieve then look in other places as you may find things you weren’t expecting to.
Expect to find things out that you weren’t expecting. You may discover the information you have is contradicted by what you have previously found. You may have found a death record which you assumed was you ancestor only to find a gravestone who’s information proves you were wrong.
Do make sure you have a camera and a note book and pen. In fact take several pens in case you lose one. You can photograph all the things you find and the places you ancestors went and lived and make notes as you go along so when you get home you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything.
Expect your trip to take longer than you though. If you’ve only planned to stay for a few hours, you’ll probably end up spending the day. Before you know it you’re trudging through the undergrowth of a church yard and have lost 3 hours, but you might find some new information.
Use the trip to answer all your questions and don’t forget to visit everywhere you can. Don’t skip things such as war memorials as you don’t think there relevant. Do if your ancestors lived a long time before the wars but if they lived at a similar time then you may find distant relatives on it. For example I found my Great Grandpa’s brother and 2 cousins on the one in Thorpe St Andrew.
Most of all enjoy the trip. It’s your chance to truly connect with your past and walk in their footsteps.
Today we live more in a throwaway society and if something is damaged or broken it goes but this is a luxury many of our ancestors would have loved to have had.
I’m sure we’ve all done it. We get a garment that gets a hole in it and so it goes. Bur what would our ancestors have done. Well this would have depended on the damage. So for clothes they would have mended them if they could. Socks would be darned and holes would be stitched up.
How many of us would have thrown these jeans away? Our ancestors would never have done this. They would have carefully stitched over the area until the mend would nearly have been invisible. If the damage was too great then the garment would probably have be reused in another way. In the case of a pair of trousers that were damaged on the bottom they could be shortened and given to a younger member of the family. If this wasn’t possible then the garment could be turned into something else. So for example if a pair of curtains was ripped on the top and couldn’t be mended then the fabric could be recycled into clothes for someone.
But if the fabric was beyond use for being turned into new clothes then it still had a use. Cleaning in the home was a very time consuming chore for the lady of the house. Everything had to be done by hand. So having rags was essential. Old clothes could be used for washing floors and dusting and even for use as washing cloths and towels for the family. They could even be used to make a rag rug by attaching rags to a hessian sack to keep the cold from their feet.
But what when the rags were beyond use for that. Well they could be used in the garden. They could be strung over the garden to keep the births off the crops. If they weren’t even fit for this they would be sold to a rag and bone man who would then sell the rags to shoddy makers. These were factories that recycled the rags into yarn to make new cloth.
But what else did our ancestors make do and mend. Well obviously scraps of material could be used to make toys for children such as balls and rag dolls. Also old furniture could be reused after its functional life was over. So if a chair had a broken leg then the leg could possibly be mended by a new piece of wood being attached but if all the legs were damaged by rot at the foot then the legs could just be cut down to make a child’s chair. Or if the whole set of chairs and the table had rot then the whole lot could be shortened.
Pieces of wood could be collected and used in a variety of ways. In rural areas wood could be used to mend fencing and mend holes in buildings and even to build new items such as storage boxes to pack vegetables and flowers to send them to market. In the towns wood could also be used for covering windows instead of curtains or even making pallet beds to sleep on.
Today there is a mass market for selling crafting products and we can make so many different things from our own clothes to our own furniture. We make our own Christmas decorations and gift for one another, but in reality our ancestors had been doing this for as long as time can remember with the bits and pieces they had in their homes as nothing was wasted, everything was used until it couldn’t be used anymore or made into something else and then they would perhaps have been able to get a few penny’s for them
It’s a question many ask about genealogy. Will I be able to find all my ancestors and how far back can I go? Some seems to think you can go back to time immemorial, but can you?
Well unfortunately the answer is no you can’t. The records only go back so far. But don’t be downhearted as you can get a long way back.
Up until 1538 it was more than likely that only people born into the aristocracy who would have had their baptism, marriage or burial registered by the family. In 1538 Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII right hand man decreed that in the new Church of England all baptism, marriages and burials would be recorded by the parish priest at the local church with copies being made and sent to the bishop every three months. Thus the parish records came into being. This system continued until 1837 when the present system of receiving birth, marriage and death certificates was introduced when Queen Victoria ascended to the throne. Baptisms, marriages and burial were still recorded by the church when the events took place, but the official registration was still required.
So if you’re really lucky you may be able to get back to 1538. But a note of caution is needed. A lot of the records this far back are really difficult to read and they may be in Latin! This means that not only with you have to translate the date but also the names. For example it’s not too bad with my name Sarah as in Latin it’s Sara but some other names are really different. Walter in Latin is Ualterius and Louisa is Ludovica. Also the condition of the records may be so bad that when they are viewed they can have unreadable areas.
If we consider Dronfield in Derbyshire the records began in 1560 but the church itself was built in the 12th century. So we see there is a large discrepancy between when the church was built and the records began. This means you will miss out on so many ancestors, probably approximately 13 generations at 30 years per generation. Don’t be upset though as if you think about it up to the present day you can probably go back approximately 15 generations and 15 is better than nothing as it’s still over 4.5 centuries.
You also have to take into account what information is given in the parish records. There was no set format for the records, it was what the vicar or his clerk decided to include. This means it will vary, sometimes greatly, between the parishes.
For baptisms in most cases you will get the child’s given name, his parents given names and his father’s surname, so for example the basic information you may get is:
John son of John and Mary Smith baptised 1 January 1600
You may get lucky and find that the mother’s maiden surname is included. In the later records you got information such as where the family lived and the father’s occupation.
Marriage records are the ones that can be most annoying. It is not uncommon to just find that John Smith married Mary in the parish on a certain date. This gives so little information. Again the later the records the better as the woman’s maiden surname was included and perhaps the abodes or even father’s names and occupations for the couples.
Burial records in general were just the person’s name and when they were buried, but in some cases the place of death was recorded and even their age at death. I have even come across some records which stated what the person died from.
So all this means that just because the records are available doesn’t necessarily mean they are of any help and so you may not be able back to the 15 generations. With so little information in the records if your ancestors moved about you would have difficulty finding them.
But don’t give up hope, half the fun is the search. The old adage search and ye shall find is the mantra most genealogists adhere to. You never know what you will find until you look, so look and you may be pleasantly surprised as to what is available.
I was considering the other day what questions I would ask any ancestor I could meet and so I decided to write a fictitious interview with one of my ancestors.
Allow me to introduce my guest today Percy Staton.
Hello Great Grandpa and thank for doing this.
Can you tell me when and where you were born?
I was born on the 19th March 1878 in Worksop, Nottinghamshire and I was baptised at Worksop Priory on the 1st of May 1878.
Tell me about your parents and siblings
My dad was Frederick Staton and he was from Eckington Derbyshire. I don’t remember him as he died when I was only a year old. He was the organist at Worksop Priory. My mum was Anne Taylor who was from Holbeck Woodhouse in Nottinghamshire. She left Worksop to find work after dad died and I lived with her Mum and my Aunt and Uncle in Worksop. I was mum and dad’s forth child. I have a sister named Edith born in 1872, a brother called Harry (Henry) born in 1874 and a sister named Arabella born in 1876.
What was your occupation?
I moved from Worksop to Peterborough in the late 1890’s to become a dental assistant. I went to Peterborough as my elder brother Henry Hamilton Staton was a Dental surgeon there. He had trained under our uncle Richard Payling who was the husband of our Mum’s sister Sarah. I spent my entire working life in Peterborough where I was a dentist and a maker of false teeth.
Where did you live?
In 1881 I was living with my Mum and sister Arabella on Potter Street in Worksop, Nottinghamshire. By 1891 I was living with my Grandma on Cheapside in Worksop and I was at school. In 1901 I was now living in Peterborough, Northamptonshire on Russell Street where I was lodging while working as a dental assistant. In 1911 I was living on Eastfield Road in Peterborough with my family and I was a dental mechanic and maker of false teeth. In 1939 I was living on Broadway in Peterborough with my family and I was still a dentist.
Tell me about your family
I married Eva Dent the daughter of William Thomas Dent and Louisa Payling on the 12th August 1902 at St Peter’s church, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. We were both 24 years old.
We met in Peterborough where Eva was a milliner. Just as a side note Eva was distantly related to my brothers mentor Richard Payling as Richards Cousin was Eve’s mother Louisa. Small world isn’t it. Together we had 2 children. Our first child was born in 1905 and was a son named Frederick after my father. We had our second child in 1912 a girl named Margaret. Sadly my wife Eva died in 1918 from an appendicitis. I remarried the following year. Her name was Evelyn Butler and she was 20 years younger than me. Later that year we had a daughter named Edith (Betty). My son Frederick was a quantity survey, my daughter Margaret was the manageress at a sugar factory and Betty was a hairdresser. All of my children married with Frederick and Betty staying in Peterborough, but Margaret moved around the country with her husband until settling in Sheffield.
When did you die?
I died on the 23rd November 1944 at my home in Peterborough. I was 66 years old. My cause of death was Paget’s disease. This is where my bones don’t renew themselves and become brittle and misshapen. I wish I could have lived a bit longer at least so I saw the end of WW2 and have lived to see my grandchildren.
This is a great way to remember you ancestors and can be a great way to get children interested in their ancestry. They could do a similar interview with their grandparents.
It’s something I’ve wondered about over the course of my research. How would the development of new technologies have impacted on our ancestors?
Technology comes in all shapes and sizes. We mostly think of developments in electronics but there are so many more.
In the earl 1800’s the Jacquard loom was developed. This used a punched card to control the loom and made making more intricate designs in fabric possible. This would have been revolutionary to our ancestors as they could have patterned clothes rather than the boring plain ones. This would have made life much brighter as they could have had more decorative homes.
In the 1820/30’s a major development happened when Michael Faraday started to develop the electric generator. Just think what this would mean for our ancestors. Eventually they would be able to use electric lights. Just think what a difference this would make. Until electric lights they had to use reed lights, candles or oil lamps. All of these came with their own problems. Reed lights smelt and all produced smoke and caused rooms to get dirty quicker. Once they could have electric lights all these problems would be solved.
What about photograph which was developed in the first part of the 19th century. Just imagine being able to have a photo of your loved ones to have as a keepsake. People could have photos of their children and some even had a photograph taken of their children if they died young, really, they posed the dead child and had it photographed. I love old photos of my ancestors they just look so funny. I know they had to stay perfectly still for up to 30 seconds but the facial expressions are just funny.
If you look at these two photos you can see that you could look normal like my great, great grandad but his wife decided to go for the Queen Victoria look or she was constipated!
In the 1870’s the telephone was invented by alexander Graham Bell. Now admittedly it would have taken a long time to filter through the country, but how cool would it have been for our ancestors to pick up the phone and call a friend or family member who lived away from them. Before you would have had to write a letter and wait for a reply whereas now they would be able to phone them up and get a reply to any questions straight away. It would also mean they could have phone for help. If your ancestor was a farmer they would have been able to phone the vet to come and help them and the vet would have been able to drive out to the farm and help (admittedly the car would be much later but still the vet could come by horse).
Later the same decade Thomas Edison made the phonograph. Now if you were lucky enough to be able to afford one you could play music in your home. No more would you have to go to the concert hall to hear music. You could listen to what your wanted not what was being played. Mind you there were probably still arguments among families over what they wanted to listen to. Dad wants Beethoven and the kids want Brahms.
The 1890’s saw the first screening of moving images. Can you imagine being able to watch a film for the first time. It must have been revolutionary for our ancestors to see.
The 1900’s brought the start of household appliances. The dishwasher had been invented in the 1890’s but the vacuum came about in 1901. No more sweeping, now your could do electric sweeping. Admittedly you’d have to pump the machines bellows while pushing it about but it was still progress. The washing machine came along later the same decade.
Think of the advances in medicine which came along in our ancestor’s life time. Some major developments came about. Small pox vaccinations, pasteurisation, anaesthetics for surgery and penicillin. How many of our ancestors survived because of these. I know my great Grandma would have survived if penicillin had been around in 1918. She died from an appendicitis and peritonitis. If she could have had penicillin she may have survived.
So we think of technological advances being modern but it isn’t. Technology has been developing since man first began to change things and will continue on into the future.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!