Monday, 25 March 2013

Help in finding lost Manchester relatives

From the Trust's records
Looking for lost members of your family from the last century can be difficult and a little daunting.

Even for the professional it can be challenging and lead to many dead ends.

How much more so when this is something done in your spare time with little experience of archives, of where to look and who to ask.

Added to this it can become almost impossible when they were in care.

Now I know from experience because my grandfather and his siblings spent much of their early life in institutions.

All too often after you make that first painful discovery that they spent much of their early life in an orphanage, or care home, the trail just falls away.  In some cases the records have been destroyed or are incomplete or worst still you run in to that grey zone of confidentiality which locks up the details of their lives and which can only be revealed later in the century or at the cost of a lot of money.

Records of children admitted to one of the Refuges
Very little remains of the details of my grandfather’s early life and what is known come down to a few letters from my great aunt, and two less than helpful official reports. Ironically we know more about his brother who was sent to Canada just after his 16th birthday in 1914.

But tracking these down was an immense learning curve and required the help of friends in Derby and Birmingham.

So I was pleased when the archivist at the Together Trust chose this month to highlight the way their records can be accessed in a post on the blog.*

“Many family historians who discover their ancestors were in one of the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges and homes tend to stumble across the charity. Our archive, like many other charity archives, is rich in information for genealogists. Once discovered it can fill in many gaps in individual’s family history in terms of parents, addresses and birth dates as well as more specific information such as education and circumstances leading up admittance. Further information can include letters from relatives, agreement forms, and investigation/visitor’s reports.”

Application form 1900
And what follow are the answers to the very simple questions of how do I find out if my ancestor was ever in one of the Together Trust homes? Does every case file hold the same information?  How can I request a search of the archive for my relative?

Now these may seem pretty basic questions but they are the very ones any of us starting out want to ask and the answers are spot on.

It is all too easy to assume that people know where to look and even what questions to ask.  Or for that matter what the documents will look like.

So for anyone who thinks their ancestor was in the care of the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges, this is a good starting point.

Picture; courtesy of the Together Trust,

*Family history,!)

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