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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“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 …

Observatory Mansions – a history of a bedsit

As a geography student at Kings College London, it's difficult to get very far without studying gentrification. It's a huge topic, worthy of a post in itself, but suffice to say the economic drivers that push social change like gentrification are not often present in the unusual landscapes of decline found in the Black Country. …

Searching for Hulland

Yesterday I attended a digital tools workshop at the University of Warwick, and very worthwhile it was too. Sticking 'digital' in front of anything is a recipe for sexy-sounding academia at the mo - digital history, digital humanities etc. - and I think tools like those highlighted at DiRT Directory can offer a fantastic way of …

Empty space

Warning again: I'm going to be talking Black Country history a little further down, but I've been interested in what maps do and don't show, so the preamble is a bit... vague and theoretical. Maps are complex beasts. They show what they show, for reasons their makers choose, and the inclusions and omissions can define a district. …

The Planner’s Eye

Heath Town Estate, Wolverhampton, by Smileyface on the Skyscraper City website. Click the pic for a link to some truly frightening pictures of the estate at its worst. Multi- and inter-disciplinary research is a major part of academia these days, and the benefits it can bring are clearly profound - to see something anew, in a …