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Business and Industry – why is it important in family history?

Business and Industry – why is it important in family history?

This theme allows us to explore and make sense of how business, commerce and industry has impacted on our family histories.

  • Most of us and our ancestors will spend as much time in work as we do at home hence it’s significance with reference to the organisation our family worked for and their employment is critical.
  • Work and employment is often an important facet how  we identify ourselves and those of our family members ., this is covered in our Employment jobs and work and Organisations themes.

Here we are looking at the wider historic picture of the macro-economic environment and how business and industry developed and will have impacted on our families lives.

Our approach is to reflect on these themes much like a hall of mirrors, where ideas are reflected backwards and forwards, seeking and hopefully revealing further insights and glimpses of connected ideas.  Conscious that whilst the facts are as recorded, it is sometimes the less obvious that provides the insight to why and how and what the consequences were of how your familiy may have been affected by the development of business and industry in the UK europe the world and the empire. Our goal is always  a clearer understanding of what makes our family histories  intriguing.

When we look at census records, we read the bare facts and rather like a detective solving  a murder, we recognise that the facts alone are not enough, we need to understand the circumstances. We need the motives to explain the actions and decisions taken by our ancestors, such as where they lived, their employment or changes in financial circumstances. The theme of business and industry is critical in helping us to find these motives.

Industrial Revolution Critical and far reaching period in our history

Business and industry has been central to life in Britain and the success of her colonies. Much of the data we collect to explore our family history, covers an incredibly important time in European history, the period of the Industrial Revolution.

Britain's Industrial Revolution

Industrial Revolution

The roots of the Industrial Revolution stretch back to Tudor times, it gained momentum however as the foundations of it’s development began to be laid down.

      • Harnessing water power
      • Developing steam power
      • Improvements in agriculture
      • Innovations in transport and communications, canals, roads and railways.

Couple this to an expanding population and something rather extraordinary took place, a revolution.

    • The industrial revolution had many profound effects in Europe, that would shape and determine our ancestors lives, as never before.
    • It turned the social scripture of our society on it’s head.
    • The aristocracy were less relevant.
    • The bourgeoisie were elevated to political and economic power.
    •  It took many of the rural poor and put them into work in factories, alienating at the same time much of the workforce from the product of their labour as was so ably observed by Marx and Engels.

The census  and other data can reveal to us the result of  all these changes.

    • Wealth and the accruing of it became a thing to be proud of and in the manner of the old way, there was no place in the order of things for these new industrialists, things had to change
    • The lives our ancestors led in the first half of the C19th as the ‘working class’ emerged, was largely one of exploitation, born out of the new power house that was business and industry and the drive for wealth.
    • Everyone was struggling for a new place in the world, some sought it in other places and for the first time in British history, mass migrations of people occurred.
    • New markets stood waiting to be exploited and although that had been happening before the industrial revolution, the pace increased massively, the doors of trade had been flung wide open.
    • As business and industry expanded, markets expanded, military might expanded and British influence expanded

Business, industry and Empire blasted through the whole of our society and shaped the lives and nature of our family history,  from the wealthiest amongst us to the poorest.  
Map of recent business and industry articles

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Intriguing Connections:

  • In Britain the echos, rumbles and ramifications of our commercially driven empire continue to impact not only on our past but our present and future…
  • Take a look at our Organisations theme and look at what it was like to run a business organisation to compliment this theme and overall view of the impact of business and inndustyr on our family and social histories.
  • For a look at what it meant to be employed in a specific job, occupation or form of paid employment click here on Jobs Work and Occupations