Researching Writing Lives

In this blog post I will reflect on the process of writing blog posts on my author’s memoir and what I have learnt and enjoyed from doing so.

I thought putting the content of Bessie Wallis’s memoir into multiple themes was interesting because which required me to dissect the memoir and sort them out manually since the memoir wasn’t always chronological order and skipped back and forth. This meant in order to fully make use of all the content I had to deconstruct and categorize the entire memoir before I wrote any blog posts.

It was tricky to keep the author in the spotlight/focus of the blog posts rather than just analyse what she had written. For example, examining the language and how it’s written, not just what theme it linked to. It took practice to relate what Bessie had said to historical context and previous blog entries.

I feel my discussions on the dangerous and exploitative working environment for Yorkshire miners are important to public history, especially regarding working-class rights and the development of mandatory regulations regarding safety in the work place and adequate compensation to support worker’s families. Additionally, with use of Bessie’s memoir I was able to explore the limitations of young girls in Yorkshire mining communities concerning access to education and work opportunities.

I struggled finding beneficial sources that were not academic and so I focused mainly on comparing and reinforcing the material from Bessie’s memoir to studies conducted around the working-class, the first world war and mining communities found through LJMU’s extensive physical and online library. I did not only learn from these sources however, as trying to find appropriate images and photographs to accompany my discussion of Bessie’s memoir helped enlighten the visual reality of Bessie’s narrative, for example the types of trains that were in use and the old map of West Melton.

I have completed a blogging module before so I had some experience with it, however, blogging to examine and spark conversations about a person detailing their life was stimulating as there was so much material to explore and it felt so personal to interact with someone’s cherished memories. It was enlightening to work on and share private things that someone had chose to introduce into the public sphere. My research skills could have been much more thorough and I have realized this through reading other people’s blogs and seeing the connections they have made with other researchers in the field online and also institutions such as museums and libraries.

Regarding social media I have learned that the key is consistency as feeds on Twitter, etc. are often very busy and so, instead of being passive you must be active and interact as much as possible. Make full use of every feature such as hashtags, links and even GIFs in order to gauge whether it works for you and experiment with posts in order to make the most use out of social media.

What I will take away from this module is how valuable history told personally from an individual’s point of view is in regards to analyzing things such as class and family life. One sentence from a memoir can be the start of many new findings and blogging allows a very free and easy way of sharing this research while also keeping things straightforward and accessible. It can also be hard work in terms of finding research worth sharing and picking the most crucial parts of a memoir to discuss in depth while also keeping it interesting for the reader.

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