May is a busy month for us, with annual progress review conferences and interviews in Liverpool, our volunteer project and various other talks (including the Staffordshire History Day).
Our volunteer project is now up and running. We currently have 2 volunteers working on eighteenth century diaries, 2 working on eighteenth and early nineteenth century letters and one looking at deeds for water powered mills (to document how clauses regarding management of the water change over time). We do have space for more, so do get in touch if you would like to join us! We meet on Thursdays 10 am – 12pm at the Staffordshire Record Office.
We would also be interested in hearing about anything relevant to flood or drought that you come across in your own research (particularly prior to 1820), feel free to email us the details of what you’ve found using the contact form below (Document Reference Number and your description) however trivial! Or, if you have twitter, you can tweet us @floodanddrought .
Helen is currently working on mill leases. She has identified the leases for several mills and their surrounding land in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries and with one of the volunteers is looking through them for terms relating to water management. She is also looking for any other documents relevant to the mills, including maps and accounts, that can help give more information about the lives of the mills. Currently a seventeenth century slitting mill (for making iron rods) in Rugeley is proving very interesting and today she has been looking at some nineteenth century maps of Rugeley. She is also hoping to start looking at manorial records soon, but for now is concentrating on mills.
Alice has been analysing ‘dry’ field-names, and a complex picture of shifting naming and recording practices and of how people in the past thought about water is beginning to emerge. Additionally, she has identified some promising material regarding canals and water management, which is beginning to tell the story of the teething problems of the eighteenth century water supply and canal network in Staffordshire.
Alice will be working towards an oral history project over the coming months exploring drought and water shortages in Staffordshire, and we will be leaving postcards in the Staffordshire Record Office (and elsewhere, details to follow) to capture your experiences and memories of floods and droughts. If you have a memory that you’d like to share, you can pick up one of our postcards, send us a message with the form below or drop in to see us on a Thursday at the Staffordshire Record Office.