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The Best Free Online Archives for History Bloggers

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 As someone who loves to research history it's pretty essential to have access to archives. However, as I'm currently in full time employment in a non-history related field and don't live in a large city, it can be difficult to access archives physically. Likewise, as researching history is currently a hobby it's not something I can afford to spend a great deal of money on, meaning online archives that are behind a paywall remain inaccessible to me.  For those in a similar situation to me, I thought it would be beneficial to compile a list of the best free online archives so that all us history bloggers can continue to make the most of our hobby and have access to invaluable historical resources and collections. The National Archives  - You can either peruse their online digital archive guides or simply search for the topic you're researching and select "Available for Download Only" in the filters as this shows you what is available online and sometimes f

The Museum of Magic and Witchcraft - Boscastle, Cornwall UK

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I recently went on a camping trip to Cornwall and had to visit the Museum of Magic and Witchcraft based in Boscastle particularly as it's on my museum bucketlist! The Museum of Magic and Witchcraft was created by Cecil Williamson who had always had an interest in witchcraft since he was a child. A Witchcraft Museum was originally opened by him in Stratford-Upon-Avon but this was met with local opposition and moved it to the Isle of Man in 1951 under the name The Folklore Centre of Superstition and Witchcraft. Eventually in 1960 Cecil decided to move his museum to Boscastle, Cornwall where it remains today. Cecil stated, ‘Three miles away from this spot you can find this pre-historic maze stone carved into a living rock face, proof that from ancient times man and his magic making with the world of spirit were active in this area. The centuries have passed and times have changed and yet all around us in this quiet corner of England there is a strange feeling that we are not alone an

The History of The Old Man of Coniston

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  May is National Walking Month so I wanted to share with you the history behind a recent walk I did. The Old Man of Coniston (or Coniston Old Man) is located in the Lake District and is one of the fells in the Furness Fells . It is approximately 2632.61 ft high. The road up to the main car park for the hike was originally built to serve the slate quarry . The Coniston Old man has an extensive slate mining history dating back to 12th and 13th centuries. It was estimated that around this time slate began to be worked here and has been worked up until the present day. By the 1500s, established slate workings were present in the area. On the stony path on the way up to the summit, you can see numerous signs of the remnants of the slate industry from buildings and machinery to electrical pylons.   The summit itself is signified by a slate platform and cairn. Although this is a great spot to have lunch if the weather is good, the summit was historically used as a warning beacon which for

Spotlight on: Sarah Biffin, a Victorian English Painter

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Sarah Biffin, Mrs E.M. Wright, 1784 - 1850. Artist (Self-portrait) - WikiCommons  Sarah Biffin (sometimes spelt Biffen ) was born in 1784 in a small village in Somerset, England into a poor farm labouring family. Sarah was born with a rare condition called Phocomelia , meaning her limbs did not grow.   Sarah taught herself how to sew, write and draw using her mouth by the age of 8. She showed a clear talent for sewing and drawing and contributed to her family income through dressmaking and needlework.  Sarah Biffin. Watercolour by Sarah Biffin.. Credit: Wellcome Collection . Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) As an early teen she met a man named Emmanuel Dukes, who ran a traveling show where he showed the strange and curious to a paying audience. She soon entered a contract with Dukes who exhibited her in his show, charging his audience up to two shillings to see her draw. Dukes taught Sarah how to paint and so she began painting miniaturist portraits for h

2021 Reading List

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    This post features affiliate links. To find out more visit my disclaimer page. Every year I set myself a goal of 'reading more' but for 2021 I have set myself the target of 10 books. To someone who manages 52 a year, 10 might seem like a measly amount but for me that's a lot.  I have pretty much chosen all 10 books on my list which will hopefully motivate me more because I'm excited about it. There's a mix of fiction and non-fictions, history focused and non-historical, meaning it wont all get too samey.  1. Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala Okay so this is a bit of a cheat since I started reading it in October but I did finish it in 2021 so I'm counting it towards my goal. The mix of historical narrative intertwined with personal experience is powerful and shows a lived experience. The book explains how race, class and the legacy of the Empire have shaped life in Britain today. 2.Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski  Yes this is a book

Who Was Gertrude Bell?

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Via Flickr Everybody has heard of T.E. Lawrence or Lawrence of Arabia but what about his incredibly influential female companion Gertrude Bell? As an explorer, archaeologist, diplomat, writer and spy Gertrude Bell established what we now today as modern Iraq. So who was Gertrude Bell? What did she do and why was she so important? The Early Life of Gertrude Bell Young Gertrude was born in 1868 in County Durham in the North East of England. Her Father was an industrialist and her Mother sadly died when giving birth to Gertrude's younger brother. Gertrude received an insight into politics from a young age since her Grandfather was the MP Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell who worked alongside Benjamin Disraeli . When she was 17, Gertrude Bell attended Oxford University to study history, one of the few subjects on offer to women at the time.  In 1892, following her graduation, she travelled to Tehran, Persia (modern day Iran) where her Uncle, Sir France Lacelle was based as a British Minister. S

Spooky Stories of Rossendale, Lancashire

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As Halloween approaches, I thought it would be appropriate to dig some spooky stories out of the archives where I'm currently volunteering. All stories are said to have happened in my local valley of Rossendale, a little borough tucked away in Lancashire.  Rossendale Wizard  One year, local farmers had suffered loss of cattle and sheep had become unproductive.  Creamed soured in its churn, horses mysterious escaped their locked stables and cows seemed bewitched. The farmers tried hanging lucky horseshoes and hanging sickles across beams to counteract the bad luck yet nothing seemed to work.   Suspicion fell on a local astrologer and fortune teller who resided in Newchurch, Rossendale. It was decided that enough was enough and the farmers wanted to put an end to their ill-fortune so performed the ceremonials for ‘killing a witch’.   One November evening as the thick fog covered the valley and the winds whistled across the moors, the farmers met at one of their houses whose cows had