Our reading and understanding of history often deals with the macro world of nations and empires and the span of centuries.


The pandemics such as the bubonic plague that swept Europe, or the periodic famines which gripped nations when crops failed, must have been terrifying to those who faced them. Our ancestors did so without the benefit of immunization or practices of sanitation and hygiene that are instinctive to us today. They faced these early periods without literacy, without hospitals, without retirement pensions, social services, electricity or paved streets.


Yet it is in the micro world of individuals and families that we draw closest to what real history is about. What was it like to be a pre-teen child and work deep in the coal mines in pitch darkness for hours? What was it like to spend every day making hundreds of nails to satisfy a boom in house and factory building?  How hard was it to cut pieces of turf from Irish bog for drying and burning in winter? How did it feel to face the discipline of the Royal Navy, or to serve below decks as a stoker in the heat , dust and grime as sail gave way to steam?


The world of our ancestors would seem alien to us, even as recently as a hundred years ago, when parents often lost half of the children born to them. Hard work consumed most waking hours. Lack of education and a rigid class system, especially in Europe largely dictated that few would ever move beyond those confines.


From this complex tapestry of history we attempt to draw the threads of single families that remind us of that irrepressible human will to survive, to overcome, and to leave a better legacy for the next generation.


British Isles 

1500s: 
England’s place in the world
1600s: 
Civil War and a revolution in government
1700s: 
The Empire takes shape

Features to come:
1800s
1900s
The coal miners
The nailors
The agricultural laborers
The sailors
The soldiers

The Irish Potato Famine, 1845-1852the_times_1500s_england_overview.htmlthe_times_1600s_england_overview.htmlthe_times_1700s_england_overview.htmlshapeimage_3_link_0shapeimage_3_link_1shapeimage_3_link_2

United States 

1800s
1900s

Pictures, from top down, are from Wikipedia Commons and in the public domain:

Spanish galleon of the 16th century; William Shakespeare, 1564-1616; Great Fire of London, 1666; storming of the Bastille, French Revolution, 1789; Charles Dickens, 1812-1870; Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War, 1863; British machine gun crew in gas masks, Battle of the Somme, World War I, 1916.

    

    The Times