I came into the study of history at school and as an undergraduate in the 1960s, when the concept of ‘history from below’ was growing into importance and creating some very vital debates about the meaning and purpose of history. This was all set aside while I pursued various careers until I completed a part-time MA in Local History at York and was ending my paid working life as assistant archivist at the National Railway Museum. I then began to find my way among various organisations and institutions in the field of local and family history, the most inspiring being a series of conferences at Ruskin College, Oxford, organised by Hilda Kean. So much led on from all of this, including coming across other inspiring people, and this website is one place where I try to bring some of this inspiration together.
The study of one family name through its history is one way of viewing history from below. The Bashforth family history can help to examine the way in which one surname evolved and was distributed throughout the UK and the wider world. As family records became historically more common, data was created which allows this process to be examined in even greater depth, especially where these family records link up to other official records or contemporary reports. Intrinsically this is how family history becomes potentially ‘radical’. This cannot however be achieved by merely collecting data, it involves the analysis and interpretation of that data in the light of contemporary history and both social and cultural theory. This work can be found under ‘Bashforth Family History’.
Hence, this site has two main purposes. Firstly, I will use Bashforth family history in precisely this way. Those who are looking simply for additions to their family tree may therefore be disappointed. But if they are pursuing family history in a broader sense, then I hope this work will inspire them to do likewise. Secondly, I will post longer articles examining what I am doing in the light of my own concept of ‘radical family history’ and taking note of other social, economic, cultural and political theory as these relate to history and heritage. This work can be found under ‘Radical History, Radical Theory’.
Arising from my research I am also pursuing other projects in more depth. These can be reached by using the links on the site under ‘Related Blogs’.
The 11th Durham Light Infantry: In Their Own Names, (Amberley Publications, Stroud, 2011)
‘Absent Fathers, Present Histories’ in Ashton and Kean, People and their Pasts: Public History Today, (Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke and New York, 2009) – reprinted in paperback as Public History and Heritage Today: People and their Pasts (2012)
‘The Dodworth Connection’ in Moving Lives: Stories of Barnsley Families, ed. R Spensley, (Barnsley FHS 2007)
Plus articles in a number of magazines and journals in the field of family and public history.