This entire module has tested me in a multitude of ways; my ability to conceptualise the past, experience the lives of those who lived it as well. This module has allowed me to reach a grasp of history in a way I didn’t think I could. Isaac Edward Brown’s life story serves as an inspiration to me personally, for he retains may qualities that I deem truly aspirational!
Upon being assigned the task to research a real individual through their own words was an intense experience and request put before me, as it was for a lot of my fellow class mates I’d imagine. I have learned many things about the past, but the most significant location I truly have learnt about, is a town called Bromley: The home of young Isaac Brown. I have learned about the social hierarchies at play within Bromley during the early twentieth Century, and I have to say on more than a few occasions, Isaac did make me chuckle at some of his comments. His comments in particular about his inability to draw. See, I love drawing so i think it was interesting to hear it from Isaac his difficulties with it. I instantly enjoyed his memoir from the moment I read his biographical entry. The story of this self-made and determined man speaks volumes of his character. His character that was loyal to hard work and his family.
As a Northern working class man, observing the contrast between my ancestors culture and environment compared with Isaacs peaked my interest greatly. In the are I come from, near Liverpool, there are factories, and a Shell power Plant. The culture of the Northern working class seems dominated by industry, textiles and factory work. Not so for Bromley, for Isaac mentioned that were hardly any factories in Bromley, so observing a fresh perspective a time period I have only understood from the Northern perspective added to my knowledge of history.
Isaac’s memoir in total adds to 185 pages of details, so much of which, I found it a challenge to effectively collect it all within this blog. Isaac took us on a journey beginning with his parent’s separation, and ending with him recalling his pastimes and hobbies following the birth of his children. I learned more than just the geographical information, I also learned of the culture of the theatre-goers, I was pleased to hear that Isaac actually witnessed well-renown artists of their day! Very lucky man.
By far my most enjoyed moment of this entire experience was having the pleasure to speak with one of Isaac’s relatives on Ancestry.co.uk. His descendant was so lovely and kind enough to grant me special permission to share his photographs on this blog site. If you are reading this, then I sincerely hope I have given you a good example of Isaac beyond what you may have already knew about him, and I truly hope I you have enjoyed reading about him. Thank you once again for taking the time to respond to my emails and give me that extra little bit of information about him. It was a pleasure hearing from you!
I do, in hindsight believe that I have contributed to a historical record, but I believe the more significant thing for me anyway is that I have contributed to awakening the life of a man who, without this memoir, may have been lost to history.
I will be completely honest here, this project has awakened an urge within me to attempt to discover more about more individuals, possibly even see if I can look into a data collection role in the future as a career. Within my second year of this university course, I competed a blog, and though that was a pleasure for me, I gained more insight and pleasure from the knowledge I provided an actual record that others may actually get historical benefit from. And, if for nothing else, that has made the whole experience worth it.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Helen Rogers for all her help through these past few months, this has been an intense experience, once that really tested me. My ability to work to deadlines, though I struggled, has definitely improved somewhat because of this course, it was well manged and well organised. I also would like to thank my class mates for all their kind words and comments on Twitter. It has been a unifying experience learning from one another. My use of social media was the most challenging aspect for me, primarily because I am not too social an individual and rarely go out f my way to use it for this purpose. However, I am happy that my twitter account provided a great opportunity to learn how to use it. I am seriously thinking about endeavouring to keep it and see if I can use it for some good after university. Furthermore, learning how to use Ancestry has encouraged me to explore my own family tree, for I do not know much about my own family. Thank you WritingLives for this experience. By far it has been the most involved experience of my life. I never thought myself capable of historical research, but it’s interesting how things turn out!
‘Brown, Edward’, The Autobiography of the Working Class: An Annotated, Critical Bibliography (Brighton: Harvester, 1984) vol 1, no. 9
1:93 BROWN, Edward, Untitled, TS, pp.199 (c.80,000 words). Brunel University Library.