There's more to do than transcribe data!

Most volunteers working on the MyHouseMyStreet project start by getting involved with data entry but many eventually choose a single streets' history to research in depth. I have not selected a particular street to study, preferring instead to help out others with their work and contribute in this way.
Consequently, I’ve been involved in visiting lots of the streets being researched and chatting to residents, explaining the project and gaining their permission to display MyHouseMyStreet posters on their properties.
Invariably, when I visit a street almost everyone is very receptive to the project and keen to participate. However, there’s usually one household that’s wary of the initiative and who say they would prefer not to join in.
I’m told by longstanding volunteers that, come the time of our street exhibitions, even these ‘die hards’ usually come round and, upon seeing other’s displaying posters on their properties, agree to participate.
Just last week, I was out speaking to the friendly folk in Brighton’s Sydney Street. As per usual, with the exception of one character, everyone showed enormous enthusiasm and interest in the project, agreeing to place our posters in their shop windows, and sometimes fliers on their counters. Hopefully, the solitary naysayer will enjoy the event, once it’s in full swing!
I also visited Hove’s Waterloo Street, where I talked to residents and also met the "Old Market" gardener, and the manager of the Iron Duke pub, once again a happy group of people keen to be involved however they could.
Some of my favourite recent activities have involved visits to record centres. In the East Sussex Records Office, we uncovered pre-war plans for a proposed Newsreel cinema in Charles Street, Brighton. It was never built.  In the Brighton History Centre, leafing through Street Directories dating from 1845, we found an old advertisements for a Sydney Street businesses that still has local practitioners, the listing: ‘Left Off Clothing bought’.
It’s amazing what local history can be found when you just scratch at the surface of the huge reserves of records that are held in the area.

I hate correcting proofs!

Elaine, is a longstanding MHMS volunteer:
I hate correcting proofs.  It’s tedious and fiddly work if you’re like me and more interested in what happened to whom rather than if the spelling is correct.  However, it has to be done and we have a duty to be accurate both to the records and to the current occupiers of houses we have researched, so with heavy heart I set about correcting ‘my street’, Queen’s Gardens.  What insights it revealed.  By correcting transcripts of all the census and street directory data for the street in one go, I begun to get a sense of the street’s residents moving on or staying put, the sorts of jobs they did and how those jobs changed over the years. 
Whilst the streets were built by Brighton’s nineteenth century speculators and developers on pretty much the same model as developers work today, the people who lived in them were very different from most of today’s residents.  Who knows, perhaps there is still a music hall limelight man living in Queen’s Gardens but it’s some years since limelight was used in the theatre.  Theatrical lodgings were in the street, too, housing musicians, singers of comic songs, music hall ‘artistes’ and gymnasts alongside stagehands and costumiers.
Some families occupied the street for many years, moving from one house to another.  The Igglesdens are recorded at number 19 in the 1851 census and they stayed there until 1906 when they seem to have moved to Gloucester Road.  Some of them also lived at number 25 from 1889 – 1906 and others in Robert Street from 1914 – 1958.  There don’t seem to be any Igglesdens in Brighton now – are there?  Number 19 must have had some magic attraction; the Darbys moved in after the Igglesdens and they stayed until 1954.  Prior to that they lived from about 1892 at numbers 15 and 18.  It seems different family members lived in the same street.  The Piedot family moved around in Queen’s Gardens, too and there are still some people of that name living in Brighton.  (If you read this – tell me, what is the origin of your name?)  This family lived at number 37 from 1899 to 1907 and then at number 26 until 1913.  After that they went to number 23 until 1958.
These are not unusual histories: many families stayed in the area and close to each other.  Mobility was less than now, few people would have gone away to University, to work or just for the hell of it.  Anyway, there was probably some sense in having your mum handy for childcare and your children handy for care as you aged. 

Cleaning up the data!

For months we have been transcribing information from census returns and street directories into our database. As might be expected for a project handling so much material, every now and again, people make transcription errors.

It seems unlikely that we will notice every error and, in due course, we will rely upon the public to flag-up mistakes, for correction.

Meantime, one of our volunteers has demonstrated a very keen eye for spotting entry errors in the vast sea of persons names, employers names, jobs, places of birth, etc. that constitutes the information in our database.

Amy took a mathematics degree and is a business analyst by profession. Perhaps it's no surprise that she is good at spotting what so many of us miss when we work on the MHMS project. It's certainly a good thing we've attracted her help though, without her eagle eyes a lot of Smith, Brighton and Sussex entries would be sitting in our system as, Smuth, Broghton and Susssex.

Now we just need another couple of volunteers with her skill levels, one to decipher the occasionally illegible hand of the enumerator and the other to identify the transcription errors of the past! Okay, two superhuman volunteers needed!

You can still watch, Census TV!

This bolg entry has been lifted from a story on our Home Page, which ran between March and May 2011.
Census TV
To coincide with the 2011 census, ITV's regional news program Meridian Tonight made a series of short news broadcasts called 'Making Sense of Census - Everybody Counts'. A lot of the content for these programmes was derived from MyHouseMyStreet research.  You can still see the broadcasts via the following links:
Monday 21st March 2011
Everyone Counts, 2011 Census - what is it all about?
Tuesday 22nd March 2011
Simon Finds His Family, the Simon Parkin family tree
Wednesday 23rd March 2011
Census House Detectives, Kensington Place - Part 1
The Sawyers' house. (Simon Callow talks about former owner Peggy Ramsay) A local historian discusses how the street would have looked 100 years ago. The Gunputh's house. They discuss living in a former photographic studio.
Thursday 24th March 2011
Past, Present & Future, Kensington Place - Part 2
The Cheesman's house. Their home was formerly a 'knocking shop' and the site of a suicide. Peter Crowhurst talks about the origins of the street. We catch up with Pat Lettres in Australia as he reminisces about Kensington Place during the war.
Friday 25th March 2011
Census 1911 Revealed
Fred Dinenage talks to a 100 year old and her 11 year old great grandson.

Brighton Festival 2011

We are staging and presenting a lot of events during this year's Brighton Festival. We hope you will drop by and partake of as many as possible. Each event will offer the opportunity to pick up material about the MyHouseMyStreet project. Or, you might consider coming along to one of our 'local architecture' talks and hearing about the project in person.

You may have noticed in the press recently that we have been able to secure a rare C A Busby architectural drawing. You can take a look at this during our 'local architecture' talks and get a real feel for the type of document that MyHouseMyStreet is always keen to reveal.

Our selected MyHouseMyStreet locations for 2011 might not have been architect designed, in the main, but its still possible to find architectural drawings of the houses in them from the distant past, as mid-to-late-19th C architects and surveyors often produced drawings when commissioned to alter the original houses.

ESRO in Lewes is the place to look for such documents, or of course, in your property file, where drawings might sit alongside house deeds. If both places turn up nothing, there's always the loft to explore!

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