Harriet Looks to the Future - By Discovering Her Past
Online family history information
Books, printouts and cassettes!
Harriet Hardcastle, fifty-seven, listens to Radio 5 Live and hears about a major Millennium local history project. She's very interested in the way her town has developed and changed over the years, and she hears that her library will be the main local centre involved in the project.
When she arrives, the librarian knows all about it and shows her to a terminal. She has never used a computer, but soon gets the hang of things. She explores the recent history of the town, looking at maps and seeing photographs of how it has changed. She picks a photo and sends it as a Webcard to her daughter in Australia. There is also a school project, which is fascinating, and she enjoys dipping into the recordings of people of all ages talking about living in the town then and now.
She is invited to contribute a three-minute recording into the computer, but she'll do that next time: first she wants to find out more. When she had typed in her name, a list of other Hardcastles associated with the town had come up on the screen - one of them a distant relative killed in action in the First World War.
This is really getting interesting. Using a combination of original archive materials, including photographs and the archive footage of programmes about the Great War from the BBC, she traces the development of the war and finds out about the circumstances that led to Private Hardcastle's death. The library catalogue shows her there is a special collection on the Great War at the local university, and she can use her library card as identification to go there and look at things.
She see some programmes coming up on tracing your family tree, and discovers she can come to a beginners session at the library that week, run by the local family history society.She is fascinated by this local family connection with world events, and leaves with books on the First World War and some information she has printed out from the computer, as well as an audiobook of letters from the trenches. She is inspired to involve her grandchildren in all this, and sees that the archive of twentieth-century oral history will be a good beginning - they love listening to stories, and these will be real ones.
Powerpoint Users: click on the image of Harriet to return to the slide about Community History and Identity.