Monday, March 6, 2017

Exploring the Archives: the Sheffield Women’s Lib Movement in the 1970s

Students in the School of English at the University of Sheffield are provided with the opportunity of taking a work placement as part of their degree programme.  This year Mollie Littlewood is working with us at Sheffield City Archives and Local Studies Library.  She is writing a series of blog posts highlighting the city’s fascinating archival treasures.  This week she’s been looking at newsletters produced by the Sheffield Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1970s…

The Sheffield Women’s Newsletter was produced by the Sheffield Women’s Liberation Movement which appears to have been established in the late 1960s. It was a group that criticised the male dominated society and condemned sexism. The group campaigned on issues such as equal pay, violence against women, rape, pornography and ‘cultural sexist attitudes’. The newsletter was a space for women in Sheffield to communicate with one another and form a support network as they campaigned for women’s rights.

The first Sheffield Women’s Newsletter was published in May 1971 and took the form of a two-side typescript page outlining the aims of the Women’s Liberation Movement.  By 1979 the newsletter had become a stapled booklet with hand drawn illustrations, personal articles and poetry from women in the movement.  The women in the movement produced the newsletters themselves.  All of the material in the newsletters was composed, typed and drawn by them including the illustrations that appear in the issues at the latter end of the decade.  In 1976 they began to draw front covers for the newsletters and illustrations for the articles and poems. These are all hand drawn in felt tip pen.  This DIY ethic makes the newsletters feel more personal - they remind the reader that local women were making them with limited resources.  The illustrations give the newsletter greater appeal than plain text, but they are cleverly used to help present the points made in the written pieces.

The group later learnt how to print the newsletters themselves.  An article written by Jos Kingston in the springtime 1978 issue discusses the printing group and her experience of teaching herself how to print with a machine and platemaker that was now in use at the Polytechnic Student’s Union (now Sheffield Hallam University). She writes that ‘the “man from Roneo” gave two 20-minute trainings in what knobs to turn, and the rest of my learning was trial and error’. She basically taught herself how to print and although she admits to wasting almost £20 worth of materials in the process, in the end she finds a great satisfaction in the skill she has gained: ‘It’s such an advantage if you’re participating in the whole process of communicating what matters to you, from start to finish’.  These newsletters were a space for women to voice their opinions and any outside help they would have had or asked for would have most likely been from men.  I feel a sense of pride when I read these newsletters because these women were breaking gender stereotypes and revealing their own capabilities.  Jos discusses in her article the desires of herself and others in the printing group to try and make a living out of printing.  They enjoyed learning a skill that would not have been taught to them otherwise and sought the feeling of independence that comes with earning money.

Although the newsletter in itself is an exhibition of these women’s talents, the issues discussed within it are incredibly sobering.  In the July 1975 issue, Shirley Field writes an article entitled ‘Some Notes on Rape’. She discusses a ruling by the House of Lords that a defendant in a rape case could escape conviction if he believed the woman consented. She writes ‘the defendant’s belief does not even have to be a reasonable one’.  In 1975 the charge of rape could be dismissed if the man stated that he believed the women enjoyed it. Shirley Field discusses the views of a Sir Harold Cassel whose opinion was that ‘a resisting woman could well be giving the man the additional thrill of a struggle’. The use of the word ‘could’ in his statement highlights the ludicrousness of the situation. The judges in the courts were relying on their own personal viewpoint rather than fact. Field highlights the impossible situation this placed women in; ‘the procedure of going through the courts to prosecute a rapist is already severe how many women will run the gauntlet of sneers and jokes to be told that she got what she asked for and enjoyed it!!’ This level of sexism shocked me - this was happening only 40 years ago when my parents were teenagers!

Some of the articles written in the newsletters take a more comic and light-hearted approach although they are still discussing serious issues. There is an article in the Jan/Feb 1978 issue written by Sue Pethen who discusses her experience of pregnancy.  Whilst reading her article I had to constantly remind myself that it was written in the late 1970s and not much earlier in the century.  She discusses the booklet produced by the British Medical Association that she received at her first antenatal visit to the hospital.  It emphasised the need for sleep: ‘if you are working, when you get home, before starting any of the household work, put your feet up for an hour, and try to doze off’.  Of course the housework was a must and pregnancy did not exempt women from this task. The booklet tentatively suggested that the husband might help out with cleaning the bath as this was seen as a danger, however all other housework was perfectly acceptable for a pregnant woman to do. The booklet gave suggestions as to how to cope with backache.  Women were advised to ‘carry two shopping bags, one in each hand, rather than only one heavy one; do tasks like ironing, washing up, peeling vegetables sitting down’.  The illustration that accompanies this article comically depicts a heavily pregnant woman sat down with an ironing board over her knee looking tired and angry whilst her husband stands in front of her smiling handing her flowers.  The illustration captures the essence of the article perfectly and I suspect that male input into the newsletter would have altered its look and tone significantly.  It made me realise the importance of the fact that these women produced these newsletters by themselves as it enabled them to completely critique and expose the reality of their situation without censorship.

Finally, the contributions to these newsletters that have struck me the most are the poems. They are few and far between but they give an insight into the true inner emotions of a woman living through a time of fighting for equality.  In the Feb/March 1979 issue of the newsletter there is a poem by Judy Tyrrell about her not feeling at home in her own home.  She feels suffocated and trapped at home: ‘Like feeding with a jumper/ Pulled over your head.’  She compares her home to her experience of being in the Women’s Movement.  As part of the Women’s Movement she writes ‘My own eyes have seen/My lips shared thoughts/Closeness and warmth’.  In the movement she has the freedom to speak and she feels part of a community, ‘But they find no room’ in her home with her husband.  She writes ‘I carry my space inside me’.  She cannot share her feeling of freedom with her husband; she has to keep it private. The poem also describes the patriarchal home she lives in; ‘I am neatly hemmed in/With unspoken expectations/ All framework and fodder’.  At home she is trapped by the masculine ideal of women, an ideal that does not have to be spoken but is simply known.  She writes that in the Women’s Movement ‘We choose to live differently’, whereas her compliant behaviour at home is ‘an empty gesture –/ A failure to say no.’ This poem gives a moving insight into the double lives some of the women in the movement were living.  They were fighting for equal rights but these had not yet been granted and so they were also still living in the world of gender inequality.  Many women will have been both a woman of the movement and a wife.

Mollie Littlewood, School of English, University of Sheffield
Records relating to the Sheffield Women’s Liberation Movement, c.1971 - 1980 (Sheffield City Archives MD7966; X695); Images © Sheffield Women's Newsletter.

International Women's Day is on Wednesday 8 March 2017 - a global celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of the past, present and future. Rooted in the struggle for women's suffrage and equal rights, it has been celebrated worldwide since 1911.  #BeBoldForChange

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I swept through this book with indecent haste. Juliet, a writer living in London in 1946, receives an unexpected letter from a Guernsey man named Dawsey who has found her name in a book by Charles Lamb. They start up a correspondence, and she learns about the society of the title, the people who founded it, and why. 

The novel unfolds through letters as Juliet corresponds with various islanders about their experiences. What starts out as research turns into a passion, and she decides to visit Guernsey and meet the people to hear their stories of the war first-hand.

I really felt for the characters and was drawn into their lives along with Juliet, and the letter format is particularly effective in bringing out the various nuances of life on Guernsey during that time. I enjoyed this book very much.

If you like the sound of this, you might also like:

Review written by Ann Brook (Library and Information Assistant)

Friday, February 17, 2017

LGBT History Month

Display at Firth Park library for #lgbthistorymonth 

February marks LGBT History Month in the UK.  Sheffield City Council, along with many other organisations across the country, is taking this opportunity to celebrate the history, lives and achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in the UK and beyond.
As part of this month-long celebration, Sheffield Libraries is hosting an event on the life and times of Edward Carpenter , an openly gay Victorian socialist who lived locally and campaigned for the rights of Sheffield workers. This free talk by local historian Suzanne Bingham takes place at 18.30 on Wednesday 22nd February 2017 in the Carpenter Room, Central Library, and tickets can be booked here.
We also have LGBT History Month displays in Firth Park Library and Central Library which showcase a small portion of our LGBTQ* collections.

Below, we provide a selection of recent titles purchased for the collection, as well as some useful links to LGBTQ* organisations in Sheffield.

New titles
The Good Son by Paul McVeigh
Winner of the Polari First Book Prize, 2016
Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin
Different for Girls by Jacquie Lawrence
Physical by Andrew McMillan
God in Pink by Namir Hasan
Lambda Literary Award winner for gay fiction, 2016
Life in a Box is a Pretty Life by Dawn Lundy Martin
Lambda Literary Award winner for lesbian poetry, 2016
Crevasse by Nicholas Wong
Lambda Literary Award winner for gay poetry, 2016
Tarnished Gold by Ann Aptaker
Lambda Literary Award winner for lesbian mystery, 2016
Making a Comeback by Julie Blair
Lambda Literary Award winner for lesbian romance, 2016
When Skies Have Fallen by Debbie McGowan
Lambda Literary Award winner for gay romance, 2016
George by Alex Gino
Lambda Literary Award winner for children’s/YA, 2016; Stonewall book award winner in children’s category, 2016
The Gods of Tango by Carolina De Robertis
Stonewall book award winner for literature, 2016
For Your Own Good by Leah Horlick
Jam on the Vine by LaShonda Katrice Barnett
Purple Prose: Bisexuality in Britain, edited by Kate Harrad
Mr Oliver’s Object of Desire by V. G. Lee
Straight Jacket: How to be Gay and Happy by Matthew Todd
The Black Path by Paul Burston
Blowing the Lid: Gay Liberation, Sexual Revolution and Radical Queens by Stuart Feather

For further reading suggestions, we recommend following the excellent @LGBTQReads twitter account! We also welcome your suggestions for items that we should purchase for the collection.

Useful links
LGBT Sheffield
A community-led LGBT organisation in Sheffield
A youth group and support service for LGBT young people aged 12-17
Out of Office
An LGBT network organising bi-monthly social events
Sheffield Pinknic
A free yearly outdoor event
Pride Sheffield
Sheffield’s annual Pride celebration
Andro & Eve
Queer events promoters
Sheffield Bi Social
A social organisation for bi/pansexual people
A Yorkshire-wide support group for trans people assigned female at birth
A free and confidential weekly drop-in sexual health service for gay and bisexual men

Friday, February 3, 2017

Exploring the archives: Arthur Hayball, a Sheffield craftsman

Arthur Hayball next to one of his carved pieces, 19th cent.
(Picture Sheffield: y00538)
An extraordinary collection of papers and glass negatives survives at Sheffield City Archives relating to the Hayball family of Sheffield.  Arthur Hayball was a Sheffield craftsman of great skill - a talented wood carver and photography pioneer, described by J.H. Stainton in The Making of Sheffield as ‘unsurpassed in wood carving and absolutely an artist in expression’.  The Hayball papers give a rare view into the world of the Victorian family in Sheffield, not least through an astonishing array of photographs which date back to the early 1850s…

Hayball family on the back steps of 50
(later 112) Hanover Street, 1852
(Picture Sheffield: y00523)

Arthur Hayball was born in Tudor Street, Little Sheffield (now Thomas Street) in September 1822, the second son of Thomas and Mary Hayball.  His father was a joiner and builder who helped construct a number of buildings including Banner Cross Hall and St Philip's Church.  Arthur Hayball spent much time as a child in the joiner's shop.  Following an accident he broke his leg and during his convalescence, his father gave him some pieces of waste wood to carve.  From then on, much of his spare time was spent learning wood carving.  At the age of 16 he left school and joined his father in the woodworking shop at 60 Rockingham Street.

The chemistry of the toning bath
'The Apparition - a trick photo'

He started attending classes at the Sheffield School of Design (later known as the School of Art).  He was so successful the School elected him a 'Free Student for Life'.  He remained connected to the School until his death in 1887 and he was Master of the Wood Carving Class from 1875 to 1887, being succeeded by Frank Tory.  He entered a specimen of his own design in the Great Exhibition of 1851, a cabinet of English walnut, 8 feet high and 4 feet wide for which he was awarded first prize and a medal from the Exhibition Committee.

In 1845, Arthur married his cousin, Hannah Lenton of London and they moved to 29 Clarence Street, opposite to where Godfrey Sykes lived.  By 1851 they had three daughters (Edith, Miriam and Laura - a fourth daughter, Clara, was born in 1852); in order to support his family he suggested to his father he might do better independently.  This caused father and son to fall out and they were estranged for ten years.  Two houses were designed and built in Hanover Street and in the back garden a workshop was built.  The upper level of the workshop was used for photographic work in which he had become interested in c.1853, with the intention of supplementing his income through portraiture work.  Many of his early photographic endeavours survive in the archives, from mammoth glass plate negatives to early printing experiments.  A small scrap of paper survives recording the chemistry of a toning bath (chloride of gold, water, chalk, chloride of lime etc.) while an early account book describes his regular photographic purchases: collodion, photo sulphate, gutta percha, cyanide etc.

Clara Hayball on a velocipede at Arthur's wood carving works,
Cavendish Street, 1875 (Picture Sheffield: y00516)
In 1862 he moved to nos. 9-13 Cavendish Street built by his father with whom he later became reconciled.  Here his work focused on fine wood-carving and he was helped by his daughters, especially Clara.  As Stainton notes, ‘how greatly his genius was appreciated may be estimated from commissions which he executed. For the Duke of Norfolk he provided the fittings of Arundel Chapel, and also supplied many reredos, stalls and altars in Spain and Ireland; Dr. Gatty entrusted him with much restoration work in Ecclesfield Church, and for Mr. Henry Wilson he carved the handsome screen in St. Silas’ Church.’  In fact he was able to put to good use his photographic skills, ensuring all of his major works were recorded. Having received an order, he would complete the piece in his workshop, photograph the item when assembled and then when the work was sent off (in pieces) the photograph would be used to reassemble the parts.  As a result, a near complete record of his work exists. These negatives are now very fragile and sadly the emulsion is degrading on some plates; it is fortuitous that Mr C.H. Lea, a family friend, saw fit to reprint the entire set in 1951-52 which, until this point, had been stored by the family in the ‘old stable loft'. The photographs showcase the breadth and intricacy of work undertaken by Hayball - he even appears in some of his own photographs next to carved pieces. 

Photograph of designer and painter, Godfrey
Sykes, by Arthur Hayball, 19th cent.
Cyanotype of Clara
by Arthur Hayball

Arthur Hayball died in 1887.  His archive, and that of his family - especially Clara, his youngest daughter (who married Sheffield artist, William Keeling), provides fascinating detail about family life in Sheffield during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Arthur’s papers and photographs later passed to Clara who was something of a collector; she kept all manner of family papers, from her mother’s childhood embroidery dating back to c.1825 to greetings cards and other ephemera sent to her during her lifetime. Indeed her own archive of papers includes previously unseen watercolours by her husband William Keeling (an exhibitor at the Royal Academy, London) including a small painting of the Atlas Mountains placed in a prayer book which he gifted to his wife in 1913.  The collection numbers over 450 items and a list can be browsed via our online catalogue: 
Original items from the collection can be viewed at Sheffield City Archives upon request (


'Arthur Hayball - A Dreamer in Wood', a short biography published by Arthur Beet in Transactions of the Hunter Archaeological Society (vol.VII, part 5, 1956) (Sheffield Archives: HAYBALL/6/6)
‘The Making of Sheffield 1865-1914’ by J.H. Stainton (Publisher: E.Weston and Sons, Change Alley, Sheffield, 1924) (Sheffield Local Studies Library: 942.74 S)

Images © Sheffield City Archives/Picture Sheffield



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A year in archives: collection highlights from 2016

Each year the document collection at Sheffield City Archives grows in size.  Last year we received around 900 boxes of archival material dating from the 16th century to the present day including legal documents, photographs, architectural plans, glass negatives, ancient deeds, watercolour paintings and digital files.  Each item reveals a bit more to us about Sheffield’s history.  What follows is a brief look at some of the collection highlights from 2016...
Two volumes were donated by a private individual relating to Hadfields Limited (National Projectile Factory), Sheffield detailing orders for high explosive shells during World War One.  The orders came from the Ministry of Munitions, the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, the Secretary of State for War, the Office of the Chief of Ordnance, War Department, Washington DC, USA and the United States Government, Navy Department.  Almost all of the orders recorded in the two ledgers were made at the Hecla Works, the smaller of Hadfields’ two sites.  To give an idea of the volume of goods produced, the monthly peak in March 1916 (three months before the Battle of the Somme) was around £437,000 worth of orders - quite an extraordinary sum. (Sheffield City Archives: X752/1).

Sheffield City Council has historically owned various plots of land and buildings across the city, the deeds to which have been stored in The Deeds Registry in the basement of Sheffield Town Hall, Pinstone Street.  In 2015, the Council began the process of voluntarily registering its ownership of land and property with the Land Registry.  Packages of unregistered deeds and documents were sent to the Land Registry for them to check the chain of ownership and prepare for a first registration.  Upon their return, the old prior deeds were no longer required as legal documents and were passed to Sheffield City Archives.  In 2016, we received over 100 boxes of these old title deeds, many dating back to the 1600s.  They cover ancient highways and byways, pubs and beerhouses, steam grinding wheels, cutlery works, music halls, dwellinghouses and more.  The oldest deed received so far dates from 1571 and describes ‘tenements on Snigg Hill leading from the Irish Cross to the West Barr’.  We expect hundreds more boxes to be transferred over the next few years. (Sheffield City Archives: CA778).

 A curious illuminated manuscript was donated to the Archives in November 2016.  It was an address, dated 1896, presented to James Melling of Throstle Grove, Pitsmoor by the Committee of the Sheffield Social Questions League, thanking Melling for the action he took against the landlord of the Black Swan Hotel, Snig Hill  and his 'brave stand...taken against the glaring public evils of our time - the forces of drink, gambling and impurity...'  It transpired that James Wallace, the landlord of the Black Swan, had published two letters in the Sheffield Independent falsely accusing Melling of trying to entrap him into selling alcohol after hours in breach of the licensing laws.  The case went to court and the judge ruled in favour of Melling.  The illuminated address praises Melling’s commitment to the promotion of temperance and social morality. (Sheffield City Archives: X748/1).

Upon their move from Meersbrook House last year, the Parks Department transferred a large quantity of records to the archives for permanent preservation including minutes, early staff wage books, allotment plans and photographs.  The records add much to our knowledge of the development of Sheffield’s parks and green spaces.  Of particular interest is a volume of coloured linen plans of parks, recreation grounds and open spaces drawn up by Mr E. Partington, Estates Surveyor in the 1920s.  The volume was obviously a working document for the Parks Department during the Second World War and many of the plans are annotated to denote ARP shelters, ARP posts, rest centres/shelters, barrage balloon sites, wartime allotments, ARP trenches, water tanks and fire tanks, open cast coal and huts for the Home Guard. (Sheffield City Archives: CA981).

We also received a donation of First World War letters written by Able Seaman Joe Rhodes of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserves to his sweetheart in Sheffield, Nellie Drabble.  Joe was born in Sheffield in 1900.  He became a crucible furnaceman, later serving in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserves during the First World War, enlisting towards the end of December 1917 and starting his naval training in January 1918 at the Royal Navy training depot in Crystal Palace, London. Throughout his naval service, Rhodes kept up regular correspondence with his sweetheart back home in Sheffield, Nellie Drabble (1898 - 1968).  His letters discuss his training at the Royal Navy depot: ‘…the palace is a magnificent place and I am very sorry to say that our superiors are rotters...', thoughts of Sheffield: ' the papers I see that the Zepps were knocking about Yorkshire last and I hope they did not make it uncomfortable for you just the same as when they pay us a visit...' and his enduring relationship with Nellie: '...We managed to get out last night for the first time and I had not been out 10 minutes before a girl came up to me and asked me take her a stroll, this I flatly refused by saying that the girl I left in Sheffield has all the love I can give and that I had none to spare for her...’  Joe Rhodes married Nellie Drabble on 25 February 1922 at St Mary's Church, Bramall Lane, Sheffield. (Sheffield City Archives: X747).
We also took in public records from Sheffield Magistrates’ Court, HM Coroner, the Northern General Hospital, Jessop Hospital for Women and Trent Regional Health Authority. Records were also deposited by Sheffield City Council, the Diocese of Sheffield, the GMB and NALGO trade unions, local businesses, societies and organisations and private individuals.
A full list of archives received by Sheffield City Archives (and other archives around the country) is published by The National Archives each year:
You can also search Sheffield City Archives' online catalogue here:

Review: Up, down, all-around stitch dictionary by Wendy Bernard

This is a fantastic reference for knitters wanting inspiration for their projects. Each stitch pattern is presented in written and charted form, and there are options for flat and circular knitting, depending on your preference or what the pattern calls for.

As if that wasn't enough, the patterns are also offered top-down and bottom-up where appropriate. Never again will you be put off using a heart motif on that top-down yoked sweater, and you can create leaves to your heart's content on that toe-up sock pattern you had your eye on.

Even if you don't have a particular pattern in mind, this is a great resource to browse through.

(There are also a range of craft groups and activities which take place in Sheffield Libraries. Please see the Sheffield Libraries events page for further details.)

If you like the sound of this, you might also like:

Monday, January 23, 2017

Exploring the archives: the mystery of the marble bust

Of the many hundreds of enquiries we received at Sheffield Archives and Local Studies Library last month, the mystery of the marble bust was perhaps one of the most intriguing. 

A Dutch antiques and fine art dealer, based in Eindhoven, got in touch to ask if we might be able to identify the subject of a marble bust that had turned up in the Netherlands.  The only clue the inquirer had about the bust was an engraving on its base which revealed how it was made by the Sheffield sculptor William Ellis (c.1824 - 1882). The individual depicted in the sculpture however was unknown.

Bust of the mystery Victorian gentleman which surfaced in Eindhoven, Netherlands

A search through the old newspapers at the Local Studies Library revealed an obituary for William Ellis, reported the day after his death in the Sheffield Independent newspaper on 20 July 1882 which details the various commissions Ellis worked on during his career. These included busts of notable nineteenth-century individuals associated with Sheffield such as Samuel Plimsoll M.P. (1823 - 1898), Henry Unwin J.P. (c. 1811 - 1879), the sculptor Alfred G. Stevens (1817 - 1875) (all exhibited 1876), the Rev. Samuel Earnshaw (1805 - 1888) (exhibited 1877) and the scientist Dr Henry Clifton Sorby (1826 - 1908) (exhibited 1879). One of Ellis’ last commissions was a bust of John Arthur Roebuck, M.P. (1801 - 1879). By cross-referencing pictures of these individuals on Picture Sheffield ( with the picture of the bust in the Dutch antiques centre, one-by-one, we were able to eliminate the candidates in this rather distinguished line-up of Victorian gentlemen until the identity of the individual was revealed. The bust bore an undeniably clear resemblance to John Arthur Roebuck.
Roebuck was born in India to an English civil servant father, raised in Canada, and qualified as a barrister. He served as radical Liberal MP for Sheffield in two spells between 1849 - 1868 and 1874 - 1879 (up until his death). In parliament, Roebuck was nicknamed “Dog Tear 'Em” due to his terrier instincts, his tenacity and his fierce opposition to notions of aristocracy and privilege.

Picture of John Arthur Roebuck (1801 - 1879), Liberal MP for Sheffield
(Sheffield Archives and Picture Sheffield Library: s08216)

Roebuck’s life was one of relative affluence. By contrast, the man who memorialised him in marble, William Ellis, spent most of his life battling destitution and hardship. Despite his talent as a sculptor, Ellis’ obituary reveals how between commissions ‘his existence has been a perpetual struggle with poverty…a struggle with an empty purse, and an empty cupboard’. A graduate of the Sheffield School of Art, Ellis assisted his friend and mentor Alfred Stevens (1817 - 1875) in the original winning design for the ‘Wellington Monument’, an undertaking which saw the two sculptors forced to endure ‘a wearying harassing life’ in London, subsisting ‘on the most part on bread and coffee during their stay in the metropolis’. Stevens himself died in poverty before the final Wellington monument (now housed in St Paul's Cathedral) was completed.  During the severe winter of 1880-81 Ellis’ obituary observes how Ellis ‘was frequently on the verge of starvation. Yet he never complained, and bore the biting cold and bitter misery of a fireless home with heroic fortitude’.   Ellis died practically penniless at his home at 26 Reliance Place, Winter Street, Sheffield on 19 July 1882.
Roebuck’s bust may have gone from Sheffield, but thanks to the documentary evidence at Sheffield Archives and Local Studies Library its identity, and the story of its creator, will always be remembered.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New for 2017: family history course at Sheffield City Archives

In January/February 2017, Sheffield City Archives and Local Studies Library are running their popular six-week family history course led by local family history expert Suzanne Bingham.

The course is aimed at beginners and will explain the process of researching your family tree and how to find and use essential records such as birth, marriage and death indexes, certificates, and census records.  You will learn how to use the Find My Past website effectively, and how to access records in archives and libraries that haven’t yet been made available online.  Each week, you will get to look at original documents from the Archives.

Course start date: Thursday 19th January 2017
Time: 2pm - 4pm
Venue: Sheffield City Archives, 52 Shoreham Street, S1 4SP
Cost: £60 (for 6 weeks)

To book a place contact Sheffield Archives (0114 203 9395) or Sheffield Local Studies Library (0114 273 4753) or email:



Thu 19th Jan
Week 1
Getting started - organising your family trees.
Useful websites for family history.
Civil Registration – births, marriages and deaths.
Thu 26th Jan
Week 2
The census and what it can tell us about our ancestors.
Useful resources for accessing the census.
Thu 2nd Feb
Week 3
Detailed look at Parish records, why they were kept and how to access them.
Religious denominations, the differences in the records.
Thu 9th Feb
Week 4
Records relating to the deceased ancestor:
Churchyard or cemetery?
Monumental Inscriptions.
Causes of Victorian deaths
Did they leave a will?
Thu 16th Feb
Week 5
Social welfare and health records.
Records relating to the Poor Law – workhouses, poor relief, bastardy orders, settlement certificates, Sheffield Scattered Homes.
Records relating to health – hospitals and asylums.
Thu 23rd Feb
Week 6
Understanding where your ancestor lived.  
What was the area like?
How to use the following resources to identify the location of your ancestor’s home:
  • Trade directories
  • Electoral registers
  • Local area photographs
  • Maps
This session will take place at Sheffield Local Studies Library (Central Library).