Telling family stories

As part of my research I will inevitably have to tell you some family histories. I say have to - it's a vital, fascinating and relevant part of my research. But have you ever had someone try to tell you their family history? I'm guilty of this, because my own family history is really interesting - to …

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Legitimate concerns?

There's been a lot said in the last few days about migrants - how they should be listed and categorised, how people's "legitimate concerns" over influxes of labour should be heard, how funding should be changed so we don't have to invite so many, say, doctors to work here. I am not a migrant in …

Coming over here, taking our jobs…

Crowds of miserable Irish darken all our towns. The wild Milesian features, looking false ingenuity, restlessness, unreason, misery and mockery, salute you on all highways and byways... He is the sorest evil this  country has to strive with. So wrote the great crusading reformer Thomas Carlyle in 1839. Heroes of the Left like Friedrich Engels were little better: True, the …

The Other immigrants of Carribee Island: Wolverhampton’s Jewish community 1

My PhD research focuses on a small section of Wolverhampton town centre in the nineteenth century that was well-known - perhaps notorious, even - for it's substantial Irish immigrant population. "Carribee Island" and the "Stafford Street district" became by-words when any sort of unrest occurred amongst Wolverhampton's Irish. My cursory go at statistics so far …

“Slums” of the Black Country: The Mambles, Dudley

A young girl in the Flood Street area of Dudley, 1954. Image from Alamy (click for link to buy)

I've had a wonderful time speaking on my research at Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Archives recently - I've met tons of new people, heard anecdotes and stories and generally had a ball. I was discussing Carribee Island, a site of extremely poor housing, poverty and job insecurity, criminality (perceived, at least) and a very dense …

We learn from history that man can never learn anything from history

It's a bit un-nuanced to simply say "history repeats itself". I'd be arguing with Marc Bloch ("it is impossible to find two events that are ever exactly alike, because the conditions from which they spring are never identical") and Jacques Ellul ("any philosophy which asserts that human experience repeats itself is ineffectual") for a start, …