Stephen Forsdick (b. 1835): Researching Writing Lives

In January 2018, I began this module with excitement and motivation to begin researching and producing blog posts on a working–class author. I chose to enrol on this module due to my current interest in 19th century history, which I study on the other half of my degree, as a student of History and English, and due to the fact that I had always wanted to have the opportunity to blog and publicise my research in this type of way as I feel it is one of the best methods to communicate and create discussions in this field of study.

Through deciding to dedicate four months to researching and writing about Stephen Forsdick, I have learnt a lot about the impact of British Mormon converts migrating to America in the 1840s and 1850s, and how this has contributed to the development of the United States. Stephen’s memoirs led to the findings of a really interesting book by P.A.M Taylor titled Expectations Westward, which taught me about the founding members of the Latter-Day Saints and what they believed in. I have also enhanced my knowledge of working–class education, family life and labour in 19th century England and America, which is important to me as it is an area I would like to pursue in my future career and be able to explore more themes and issues and contribute to current interpretations.

The most enjoyable part of this process by far, has been publishing my research and writing, which I am quite proud of, so the fact that other academics from around the country and even Americans have acknowledged my work is astonishing to me and I am so thankful to all my readers for taking the time to look at my work. I have also really enjoyed using social media to advertise not only my own work, but research conducted by my class mates who have all been so supportive and encouraging throughout the entire project. Social media is a powerful tool in this day and age and I believe it is important to use it as an advantage to publicise and create communities were academic discussions can take place and be more widespread to audiences outside of the university environment.

Through my research and blogging I have contributed to public history extensively. Although it was difficult for me to reach out to any descendants of Stephen’s as he was an American citizen when he died, and his memoirs were written such a long time ago, I was still able to produce thorough posts about his working–class life in the 19th century. I feel as if I have enabled my readers to learn more about social constructions in the working–class community and the Mormon community in America. Stephen’s memoirs are special as they provide an outlook on two different cultures as an overall umbrella which stems to themes of class, identity, labour, education, family life and other social themes. Therefore, by blogging about these themes, the public then has access to a wide range of history that they perhaps find interesting or could even relate to. For example, Stephen spent a short period in Liverpool while on his first journey to American as a new convert, which I really enjoyed reading about as I have grown up in this city myself and I have always been interested in Liverpool’s ports history.

As a student of History and English, research is a huge part of my life and through this project, it has only amplified my enjoyment for the task and the results as an outcome of the hard work. As I reach the end of this module, I am taking away some incredible skills in terms of researching and blogging which will help me in my future endeavours. This project has been incredibly rewarding and I hope that my work has provided interest and enjoyment for my readers and once again, thank you all for showing an interest in my research!

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