Local and Community History Month

Local and Community History Month

May is Local and Community History Month. The month exists to increase awareness of local history, promote general history to local communities, and to encourage members of communities to be involved. Throughout May, libraries, museums, and community groups have organised exhibitions, talks, and events, such as guided walks. 

Local history focuses on a specific geographical place, and often includes the study of the community in the location. Like family history, local history includes the study of culture and society. And, similarly, it uses varied documents and resources while placing the location and community in a broader context, across all regions and periods. This includes rural and urban locales. Local history is studied by groups and organisations, similar to those of family history societies. 

Genealogists often find that studying local and community history complements our studies. As family historians, we need to explore the places and communities in which our ancestors resided, worked, and socialised. Like local historians, genealogists make extensive use of images of places and communities.

1921 Census of 362 Holloway Road, London, England (ref. RG15); Findmypast.co.uk

At the Society of Genealogists, we have been exploring the local history of our temporary office on Holloway Road. This section of the road was once a small part of the magnificent Jones Brothers department store. The 1921 census entry for the address (see image above) recorded that some of the store workers spent census night in the shop. These included Clifford Dudley Jones, a shop assistant, and some seventy staff, who were described as “boarders”  living over the shop.

1871 Census of 362 Holloway Road, London, England (ref. RG10/302/60, page 3); Findmypast.co.uk

The six-storey premises opened as Jones Brother in 1899, but the shop had existed at a smaller location in Holloway from 1869. John William Jones, and his brother, Robert, both drapers, had founded the store two years after they arrived in London from Merionethshire in Wales. They were recorded at the 362 Holloway Road address as brothers on the 1871 census, along with clerks and shop assistants.

Chris Whippet / Waitrose, Holloway / CC BY-SA 2.0

The striking building was designed by Davis and Emmanuel, with an entrance under a tower. In 1927, the store became one of Selfridge Provincial Stores, and it was bought by the John Lewis Partnership in 1940. The store closed in 1990. Jones Brothers department store is now occupied by a Waitrose and a series of offices, including those of the Society of Genealogists.

  • 1871 Census of 362 Holloway Road, London, England (ref. RG10/302/60, page 3); Findmypast.co.uk
  • 1921 Census of 362 Holloway Road, London, England (ref. RG15); Findmypast.co.uk

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