When I first floated the idea of using family history as a means by which to ask questions about the experience of everyday life in the past, I suggested that the comparison of longitudinal studies of families and their experiences would be one significant contribution that might be made if the problem of logistics could be overcome. If it could be collectively organised it might be called ‘radical family history’, but that would be no easy task. It would be history organised, researched and published from below.
There have been a number of examples of where individual writers have tackled their own family histories in a similar fashion to the way in which I am attempting to use mine to illuminate the past, which I have featured on this blog. The latest, however, will hit the TV screens very shortly and incorporates the comparative method to explore (no doubt among other themes) class and social mobility.
The Secret History of My Family is a four-part documentary series on BBC2 starting Thursday, 10 March at 8pm. Joanna Moorhead has introduced the series in the Guardian, 5 March 2016 in the Family supplement. The brains behind the idea is film-maker Joseph Bullman, who has already entertained and instructed us through his series The Secret History of Our Streets. He himself came from a working class background on an East London estate but had the right encouragement from father and teachers to achieve great ambitions. His own experience has prompted the main theme of this new series: what happened to the descendants of selected Victorian people. Only this is not about celebrities, this is ordinary people.
There are the three Gadbury sisters convicted of larceny, two of whom were transported to Australia. Moorhead also mentions Florence Hunt, a middle-class benefactress of John Manley, a boy she rescued from the workhouse as two more characters. This is shaping up to be a fascinating series.
 Ashton & Kean, People and Their Pasts, (Palgrave Macmillan 2009), chapter 11, page 218