Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sound Genealogical Practices Lead to Great Family Stories

I was excited to receive the first comments on my new blog. My reply to one of these comments has given me the topic for my latest post.

Heather Kuhn Roelker said... This is an interesting idea, to pull together the statistics of your ancestors. So sad that the infant mortality rate was so high. Based on these numbers it would really not have been pleasant to be a woman around 1900. Thank you for sharing this.
She was commenting on my Aug 23rd post; Snap shot of my Female ancestors that Immigrated to the USA from Ireland & Scotland, listed on the 1900 USA Census.

I replied…I got the idea when I was transposing data from various sources. I started with an individuals Birth, Baptism, Marriage, Death and Census records. Then I merged all of the entries chronologically by Family group. That's when the info pops. The number of births by mothers at young ages. The number of deaths in a Family Group, in a small time frame. The age and number of children with occupations of Mill worker. etc...
If you over lap Historical Time Lines you can see the causes, such as epidemics, wars, etc..
Read some Historical Fiction about the same time frame and it all comes together.

In my Aug 17th post; Genealogical notes for James Flynn B1855 & Rebecca Mary Robison (Flynn) B1858, My 2nd Great Grand Parents, Maternal Grand Parents of Agnes Lynch (McQuaid), you can see how I transpose source documents. I use Family Tree Maker from I list my transcriptions in the notes section of the ‘Person’ tab, under ‘People’. That way I have the option of including the notes when I publish a ‘Family Group Report’. In this post, the ‘Info. that Pops’ is the age of the children with occupations of ‘Mill Workers’. Also the time frame of the Census Records relates directly to the subject in the Aug 23rd post. That being 1861 and 1871 children working in Mills, relating to the number of children dying before their mother’s by the 1900 Census. It was a tough life for my ancestors in the last half of the 19th century. Please note that the Flynn line left Ireland in the 1840’s for Scotland. Two generations were born in Scotland before they came to the USA in 1887.
Staying true to my method this is a cue for a little History.
  • Starting in the later part of the 18th century, there began a transition in parts of Great Britain's previously manual labor and draft-animal–based economy towards machine-based manufacturing. It started with the mechanization of the textile industries, the development of iron-making techniques and the increased use of refined coal. Trade expansion was enabled by the introduction of canals, improved roads and railways.
  • The introduction of steam power fueled primarily by coal, wider utilization of water wheels and powered machinery (mainly in textile manufacturing) underpinned the dramatic increases in production capacity.
  • Textiles – Cotton spinning using Richard Arkwright's water frame, James Hargreaves's Spinning Jenny, and Samuel Crompton's Spinning Mule (a combination of the Spinning Jenny and the Water Frame). This was patented in 1769 and so came out of patent in 1783. The end of the patent was rapidly followed by the erection of many cotton mills. Similar technology was subsequently applied to spinning worsted yarn for various textiles and flax for linen.
  • Tuttle's research using a later British Parliamentary Report (1834(167)XIX) shows that children under 13 comprised roughly 10 to 20 % of the work forces in the cotton, wool, flax, and silk mills in 1833. The employment of youths between the age of 13 and 18 was higher than for younger children, comprising roughly 23 to 57% of the work forces in cotton, wool, flax, and silk mills. Cruickshank also confirms that the contribution of children to textile work forces was significant. She showed that the growth of the factory system meant that from one-sixth to one-fifth of the total work force in the textile towns in 1833 were children under 14.
  • In 1857, Alfred Kydd published a two-volume work entitled The History of the Factory Movement.   He speaks of "living bodies caught in the iron grip of machinery in rapid motion, and whirled in the air, bones crushed, and blood cast copiously on the floor, because of physical exhaustion."  Then, in a most revealing statement, in which he refers to the children's "owners," Kydd declares that "The factory apprentices have been sold (emphasis mine) by auction as `bankrupt's effects.'"
  • In 1833 the British Government passed a Factory Act to improve conditions for children working in factories. Young children were working very long hours in workplaces where conditions were often terrible. The basic act was as follows:
    • No child workers under nine years of age
    • Employers must have an age certificate for their childern
    • Children of 9-13 years to work no more than nine hours a day
    • Children of 13-18 years to work no more than 12 hours a day
    • Children are not to work at night
    • Two hours schooling each day for children
My Flynn Ancestors;
  • 1861 Ann Flinn Born Abt 1850 in Dundee, Forfarshire, Scotland, age 11, Occupation 'Mill Worker'
  • 1871 Thomas Flynn Born Abt 1855 in  Dundee, Angus, Scotland, age 16, Occupation, 'Winder'
  • 1871 Rose Flynn Born Abt1857  in Dundee, Angus, Scotland, age 14, Occupation 'P L Weaver'
  • 1871 Bernard Flynn Born 1858  in Dundee, Angus, Scotland, age 13, Occupation 'P L Weaver',
  • 1871 Mary Flynn Born Abt1861  in Dundee, Angus, Scotland, age 10, Occupation 'P L Weaver
If you would like to read some good Historical Fiction pertaining to this subject and time, I would recommend,

God Is an Englishman by R.F. Delderfield

You can read the reviews on my ‘goodread’ page.
If you have Ancestors who lived through the same hardships, we would love to read your comment.

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