When I started digitizing my family history in 2017, after being left old family photos and documents dating back to 1800’s and early 1900’s, my aim was to use the photos and documents, combined with research, to build the stories of my ancestors’ lives before their stories were lost while providing easy access to the content online for my relatives and others who might be interested.
Imagine my excitement some four years later when a researcher of Dewsbury’s Literary Society at the end of the 19th Century emailed me after discovering my Great Grandfather Thomas Ockerby Hurst’s information online. I had come across handwritten journals from a Dewsbury Literary Society dated from June 20, 1891 through to Sept 24, 1892 at my Cousin Mary’s house while searching for more information about my Hurst ancestors. I had wanted to share these journals but had given up – not knowing who might be interested in them.
Digitized the Journals
Spurred on – I went back to Mary’s house to borrow the journals and find any information related to the Dewsbury Literary Society. Mary lives in the house her family shared with my Great Grandparents – and pretty much everything has been kept.
As a result I’ve shared photos of every page from all of the 22 Journals with the researcher using Google Photo Albums.
I’ve embedded the Google photo album for the Journal from June 20th , 1891 for those interested in reading. Viewing this slideshow on a mobile device allows you to zoom in to read the text.
And helped identify photos from my Grandfather’s photos that were helpful for the researcher.
Dewsbury Library ~1898
Reggie Blakely and his telescope – Dewsbury Literary Society member ~1895
Found New Items
During my new search I uncovered more photos, letters, documents and other interesting historical items that I had missed in our original search.
For example, I discovered my great grandfather developed his own photographs and found some of the glass plate negatives.
Here’s one of the glass plate negatives:
Here’s the box the negatives are stored in:
Here’s the same photo developed from a glass plate negative as a postcard photo and a photo.
One of the documents by my Aunt Sheila Green, Thomas Ockerby Hurst daughter, discusses his photography.
Extract from Sheila article on Greenbushes 1918-1922:
He was a keen photographer and did his own developing and printing. He had two or three cameras that took different sized plates – they were all glass plates in those days. He made his own lantern slides and had a magic lantern lit by a gas lamp powered by acetylene gas. I can remember helping to fill the old tank with carbide and adding water to produce the gas when he put on a show.
I stumbled across Sheila’s diaries written between 1934-1939 – which Mary and I enjoyed reading.
The following embedded Google photo album is Sheila’s diary entries that explain how my Grandparent’s wedding, Charles Hurst to Clarice Hill, was postponed due to Clarice’s Aunt Millicent Day’s illness and death. Millicent Day died on Oct 13, 1936. My grandparent’s were meant to marry on Oct 14, 1936.
I knew that Millicent Day died prior to their wedding but hadn’t been aware that the wedding had been postponed.
Sheila refers to my grandfather in her entries as Boy – as this is the name his sisters used when referring to him.
The following embedded Google photo album are the diary entries where Sheila discusses their trip from Kalmunda to Bridgetown to attend my Grandparent’s wedding.
As well as letters written between Sheila and Web during World War II when Web was in the army based at Signals on Rottnest Island off Perth as well as letters they wrote after the war.
Sheila and Web married in 1942.
The following Google Photo album is a letter from Web to Sheila which explains how it is difficult to think of things to write as they were only allowed to talk about things they did on Rottnest during their spare time.
The last page you’ll see the signature by the censor who checked the letter.
This photograph of one of the envelopes shows the censor’s stamp and signature.
As well as letters from family and friends.
Found an old newspaper from March 19, 1904 hidden in the bottom drawer of my Great Grandfather Thomas Ockerby Hurst’s desk. Realized he had kept it as it is about the death of his Grandmother.
Below’s the photo of his grandmother from his album.
I’ve now got lots of new photos to digitize, sort and upload. Lots of documents to review and update on my site.
Meanwhile I’ve lead my cousin Mary astray and she’s joined me in the search to find more information about the family. It’s great to have a partner in crime!