Taking the stories of workhouse records to a wider audience

Thank you to Sylvia Valentine for contributing the following article about using the workhouse records held in Keighley Local Studies Library Archives.

I am a professional family historian and spend time researching in archives as I help people trace their ancestors and their stories.  This brings me into contact with a wide range of source material, including the various records held in Keighley Local Studies Library.  Amongst the amazing collection of records are a variety of records of Keighley Union and the North Bierley Union, perhaps better known as records of the workhouse.

Minute books of committee meetings might not strike many people as being very exciting, however, over the years I have found a number of fascinating stories about various people who came into contact with the workhouse, either as employees, suppliers, Guardians and of course the inmates. It has been my pleasure in recent years to talk about these stories and the wonderful record collections at various family history events both in England and Canada. When giving my talks, my aim is to encourage other family historians to find for themselves the stories of their own ancestors who might have a “workhouse connection”. The stories I have been able to research make wonderful examples of what can be done with just a few lines from a committee meeting minute book, and hopefully are a source of inspiration to others.

Sylvia Valentine
Recover Your Roots

One thought on “Taking the stories of workhouse records to a wider audience

  1. Yes, these records hold a wealth of information.
    Last year Cliffe Castle Museum held their Great War exhibition and brought to light a Keighley Workhouse roll of honour with a list of men’s names who had been in the workhouse in their earlier lives. This enabled us to research twenty men who we had no idea had been in the workhouse, nor that some of them had even served.
    Pinpointing their names from this workhouse roll of honour gave us the vital start point we needed and we now have biography sheets for 22 men in the Men of Worth Project archive and they were on display at Cliffe Castle Museum in their Great War Exhibition in 2018. A set of these 22 biographies has also been given to them for their own archives.

    Liked by 1 person

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