Recently I was contacted by Rebecca Meekings, who works on behalf of Explore The Past (the Worcestershire Archive & Archaeology Service).
Several members of my maternal grandmother’s family are from Worcestershire. My 3x great grandmother, Elizabeth Hannah Mould (1825-1904) was born in Smethwick, Staffordshire. She lived in the area of Smethwick all her life, but moved into the neighbouring area of Oldbury – which is in Staffordshire. Afte the early death of her first husband (my 3x great grandfather, Henry Harrison (1834-64), Elizabeth married George Hall Dearn (1845-1913), a man 20 years her junior, and settled in Warley, Worcestershire. Unlike nearby Oldbury, Warley remained an area of rural farmland until after the First World War. Elizabeth came from a line of dairy farmers and Warley seems to have been the perfect place in this part of Worcestershire for her to continue her family’s rural practices.
The West Midlands generally can be a difficult area for family historians to research as boundaries often changed over the years. Researching family who lived within a ten mile radius can require visits to four or five different record offices. Anything that makes family history research clearer for those of us with ancestors in this part of the world, therefore, is something to be celebrated.
Thus I was delighted to learn that Explore The Past has created a comprehensive 70-page guide designed to provide advice for people getting started with exploring their family history in the Worcestershire area. The team say, “It doesn’t matter where in the world they are researching, this guide covers general support for everyone, as the team at Explore The Past understand that it can be difficult knowing where to start.”
As I often find West Midlands geography confusing, my favourite section of the guide is that of maps and plans. This gives tips on exploring places relating to my ancestor’s homes and their surroundings.
The guide also helps researchers learn more about the types of resources most commonly used to research family history, as well as providing guidance on how to gain access to original documents, maps, photographs. Overall, it is intended to help family historians understand more about what kind of records & services will help them on their journey of discovery.
Full details on the guide are online at the Explore the Past website: www.explorethepast.co.uk/discover-your-past/