Margaret M. Scutt: Researching Writing Lives

Spending the semester creating Margaret Scutt’s author blog was extremely fulfilling in the sense that I felt like I was contributing to an accessible historical research source which can be used by anyone and everyone. From Margaret’s memoir, I was able to create a detailed image of what her childhood in Hamworthy was like, and how the contemporary image of a village is so different to what it was like during Margaret’s life. What I loved the most was that I come from a small rural village myself, so it was very interesting to see how significant agriculture and jobs like carpenters and blacksmiths always have been, as it is what I am familiar with from my own rural upbringing. I feel like this gave me a deeper connection to Margaret’s writing, not just because of the men at work but the sense of community she speaks so fondly of.

I think that my blog has helped contribute to the category of countryside writers in the Writing Lives Archives, because the majority of research that has contributed to the Writing Lives Archive is set in either Yorkshire, Lancashire or London. As well as this Margaret does not have a typical memoir, rather than a diary entry or letter her memoir consists of two speeches that have been documented by her child and even though they only briefly touch on her personal life over only ten pages of text, it has still contributed to researchers understanding of what village life was like across the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Both of these aspects of Margaret’s memoirs and my research brings a refreshing selection of research to the archive.

In contributing to the Writing Lives Archive as a researcher it has granted me access to historical archives that I would not otherwise be able to use, providing me with a diverse range of resources to help gather research on Margaret Scutt. The collaborative element of this project was extremely interesting and helpful, as it allowed me to keep up to date with what my fellow researchers were publishing onto the blog and even provided me with inspiration for my own if I ever found myself stuck.

I have also found that at times, researching working-class people, particularly from rural areas, can be extremely challenging. Margreat’s memoir consists of only two typed speeches from WI meetings in 1950 and 1955, both of which added up to just ten pages and four-thousand words. With the help of archival sources to provide context, Find My Past and social historical texts such as A Force To Be Reckoned With: A History of the Women’s Institute (2011) by Jane Robinson, I was able to build a network of resources that helped me discover who Margaret Scutt was and what her life was life.

I found that the LJMU Level 5 Prison Voices module was extremely beneficial to me throughout my research of Margaret Scutt on this module, as it provided me with a foundation of knowledge regarding blogging and research that made the idea of contributing to a historical archive a little less daunting. When writing blogs, I have found that it is important to have an adaptable tone of voice, as blogposts are much more engaging than essays, so I have learnt to change the way that I write for different forms of literature and hopefully this is something I have achieved and continue to enhance in my work Writing Lives completion.

My time researching my chosen convict on the Prison Voices module helped me to build the foundations to my blogging knowledge, and I feel that this was vital in my contributions to the Writing Lives module. I feel like this was important because I was able to utilise my knowledge about blogging to adapt to a new type of research project and enhance the blogging and social media skills I had already developed. I have also learnt just how vital social media platforms such as Twitter are to sharing resources and increasing the accessibility of archives such as the Writing Lives blog.

The Writing Lives module has allowed me to develop my organisational and research skills, whilst also giving me the confidence to carry out the research and publish my findings.

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