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Beginning Your Family History

Part Eighteen: Reflections

User Avatar Penelope Lovesy 17/12/2020 14:19:46

As this is my final blog in 2020, I thought that I would reflect on the past year in Poole History Centre and include some interesting articles and resources. 

The year had optimistic beginnings, enquiries were consistent and ongoing, people may have been inspired by our 2019 appearance on Who Do You Think You Are, featuring Katherine Ryan and Local History Manager, Dai Watkins; https://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/featuredarticles/2019/who-do-you-think-you-are/katherine-ryan-1161/

At the beginning of March, we were still going strong, unaware of what was just around the corner. International Women’s Day saw us publish an article about Poole women rioting over food shortages in 1737; http://www.poolehistory.org.uk/node/329322

Coughs and Sneezes was rather spookily the title of our First World War blog published in March https://ww1poole.wordpress.com/2020/03/06/coughs-and-sneezes-spread-diseases/ weeks before we went into lockdown. 

By the end of March, we very quickly had to adapt to a new way of working and delivering our service. It is a challenge to provide a local history service without access to much of the local history collection but one we managed brilliantly. Part of the new way of working was to create content for the Museum From Home, http://www.poolemuseum.org.uk/museum-from-home/ which included this blog, http://www.poolemuseum.org.uk/research/online-highlights/ and also some illuminating snippets from the archives, http://www.poolemuseum.org.uk/museum-from-home/snippets-from-poole-archives/

Working from home allowed fresh research to develop – old and new resources could be searched and scrutinised to find stories which have never been told. For example, in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, we have been able to begin examining the parish records for evidence of black people in Poole. This initial research means that we can begin to ensure that history reflects all of society.

Some of our History Centre Volunteers have also continued to research from home and they have produced some fantastic resources:

The Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) in Poole WW1 hospitals, a roll call of all the women (and men) who enabled the WW1 hospitals in Poole to cope with all the wounded servicemen brought back from the Front.


The Criminal Registers 1791-1892 can be found at the National Archives and on Ancestry. They contain listings of individuals charged with crime and they provide information about the individual charged, their trial, sentence, and the outcome.
Poole History Centre Volunteers have searched the registers and transcribed all the individuals tried in Poole.


In September we were able to reopen the History Centre, by appointment only. Procedures and consultation are a little different but we’ve made it work. We have had a steady stream of people coming in to use our resources. The image is of our first researcher to come back through our doors.

I have to end with a tribute to author John Le Carré, who sadly passed away on the 12th December. Born in Poole in 1931, David Cornwell went on to write over 20 novels under the pen name John Le Carré. 


Over the years there have been some interesting articles written about his father, their wider family and their links to Poole:




One of my proudest moments as a Local History Librarian was when I was able to assist him with some family research and received the following message from him;

“Thank you so very much for your diligence and persistence in a gloomy cause!”

I will end with a quote from John Le Carré’s biography, written by Adam Sisman, which is relevant to this blog;

“In our family histories, the frontier between fact and fiction is vague, especially in the record of events that took place before we were born, or when we were too young to record them accurately; there are few maps to these regions, and only the occasional sign to guide the explorer.”

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