Issued by City of York Council
City of York Council archivists has helped actress Una Stubbs discover that her grandmother once lived in the York workhouse – and can help others looking to trace ancestors.
The team, skilled in extracting data from some 800 years of documents conserved in the City Archive, helped Una identify that the woman she knew as strong-minded independent Annie Robinson gave birth to an illegitimate son in the Huntington Road workhouse in 1903.
At the time she was using the name Annie Horsfall, after the family that had informally adopted her as she, herself was born illegitimate.
Una uncovered the information during filming for an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? which airs today (24 July) on BBC 1. With the help of the archivists she was able to trace Annie back to her home in The Groves area of York using documents dating back over 150 years.
They revealed a hidden family history of hard work, determination and difficulty.
Filming for the show took place at City of York Council’s archives last November and the discoveries kept a secret until now. The archives temporarily closed in February this year in preparation for the building phase of the £1.6m Heritage Lottery Funded Gateway to History project.
The project will see the archives provided with a new state-of-the-art home at the York Explore Library Learning Centre, and give more people access to the city’s history than ever before.
Councillor Sonja Crisp, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism, said: “The documents Una used are now safely in storage pending the reopening of the Archives in 2014.
“In the meantime, copies of the workhouse registers are still available at the Explore Centre and anyone interested in investigating their family tree can take advantage of free online access to ancestry.co.uk in all our libraries.
“This covers the whole country so it doesn’t matter if your family didn’t live in this area. You can find your great-grandparents on the census or pinpoint a long-lost family member’s marriage certificate at the click of a button.
“You can also search the British Newspaper Archives Online website to view over 6.7 million historical newspaper articles.”
People inspired by the programme or interested in genealogy can drop into York Explore seven days a week to talk to staff about where to get started with their own family history.
Bookings are also being taken for two free sessions in September which introduce beginners to tracing their family history using the internet. Email the archive for details.
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