|Checking the catalog at the London Metropolitan Archives|
We preregistered online and when we presented personnel with our two pieces of identification, we were each issued on-site IDs. Then we proceeded to the computers, where we entered requests for relevant materials.
In Search of Physical Documents
Many of the poorhouse and workhouse books have been digitized and are available on Ancestry, including this ledger of admissions and discharges from the Northumberland Street Workhouse.
"Mary Shehan" is the fourth name down on this page from March, 1871. This is unquestionably the right Mary, because on the facing page is her street address--which exactly matches her residence in previous UK census records. She was in the medical ward, due to chronic rheumatism, where she remained for 30 days.
With limited time for on-site research, we concentrated on printed materials only available in person at the archives. We requested a Visitors Book for the Northumberland Street Workhouse, not sure whether Mary would have have visitors during her monthlong stay. This was a physical book from the period that we would be allowed to page through on our own!
Visitors = Oversight
Well, I have to admit that I didn't understood the terminology. "Visitors" were actually committee people responsible for oversight of these institutions for the poor. They would visit the institutions periodically and look at conditions, also indicating whether the diet was good, etc. They weren't actually individually visiting the poor people, only writing reports about the care being provided.
But the good news is that the Visitors Book listed every person kept in the insane asylum areas during each visit. Most pages showed 8-20 inmates, although there were sometimes no inmates present during a visit.
Mary Shehen was not listed in the book, most likely because she was in the medical ward, not in the asylum itself.
Still, we found it a bit amazing to hold in our hands a workhouse ledger from way back in the 1870s. It made a big impression on both of us.
Records of the T.S. Goliath
Having struck out on Mary, we next huddled with the research staff about records of the Training Ship Goliath, where three of hubby's teenaged great uncles, born poor in London, learned maritime skills and were taught to play musical instruments during the 1870s. These three boys, sons of hubby's great-grandpa John Slatter and great-grandma Mary Shehen Slatter, grew up to be well-known military bandmasters in Canada.
We were given a microfilm showing the names of recruits on the Goliath, arranged by date (not indexed). Cranking through, we found some promising leads on one of the Slatter boys to follow up later, but ran out of time to do more in-person research. Guess that means another visit?!
Thanks, as always, to Amy Johnson Crow for the #52Ancestors prompts. This is my post for "Road Trip."