Background research

This guide was last updated in 2010

Whether or not you have managed to pin your ancestor to a particular shop, some background reading is likely to shed light on their experiences at work.

Was it usual for girls to work in that kind of shop in that era, and what kind of a reputation did they attract? Would they have been forced to give up work upon marriage? How old did employees have to be and what legal protection was in place for them?

What were the hours of work: if your ancestors ran a bakery shop, would they have been up at four each morning to bake the bread? What kind of wage might they have expected, and what kind of customers patronised the shop?

You might also be able to link your ancestors’ experiences to major national and international events: were they keeping shop during the General Strike, with supplies interrupted and penniless customers? Were they operating during the War, and if so, who was in charge when the manager joined the army? Was the shop bombed, and what were the effects of rationing? Good luck with your research.

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Manchester and Lancashire textile workers
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