Researching family in Jersey, part 9: photos, newspapers and books
To wrap up the series, thereâ€™s a miscellany of other potential avenues that are worth exploring.
First of all, there are photographs. If you have family photos you will almost certainly have cursed the elderly relatives who put them in an album and then never got round to labelling who, what and where they were. Butâ€¦ there are some useful tricks to use.
First of all, scan the photograph at the highest resolution you can. If you can be sure the photo was taken and developed in Jersey, you may be able to identify the firm who developed it. A gentleman by the name of Richard Hemery has put years of work into this, and for some of the better known photographers his efforts will allow you to pin the photographâ€™s date down quite well.
This particular photo is a neat example. Richardâ€™s work tells us there were only two firms who put reference numbers on the front of prints, both operating in the 1930s. But thereâ€™s more: a high-res scan picks up the name Le Riche over the shop awning behind and left of the lady, and also makes the colonnade on the right clearer. That pins the location down to Halkett Place by the Central Market, and the date has to be after 1932, when Le Richeâ€™s (a long-established island grocer) opened their shop there.
â€œAh,â€ you say, â€œbut I donâ€™t have that depth of local knowledgeâ€. But other people do. The SociÃ©tÃ© Jersiaise run an online photographic archive: two of their members are currently going through the massive task of cataloguing every Jersey picture postcard in existence. Talk to them: they could have the information to fill in some gaps. Or use the libraries (see below)
In addition, thereâ€™s what the newspapers may have said. The first newspaper on Jersey was published in the late 18th Century, and there have been a number of different publications since, right down to the Jersey Evening Post (usually referred to just as the JEP) of today. The JEP has always been a very parochial paper in the better sense of the word: it reports everything and anything that goes on. If your relative was a prominent member of a local church or a schoolmaster or a farmer, itâ€™s quite possible that theyâ€™d get a respectable tribute from the JEP when they passed away.
The central Library in Halkett Place has a very comprehensive collection of microfilmed newspapers â€“ theyâ€™re up on the first floor. You need to book a reader â€“ it is worth doing this in advance, particularly if you want the one that will print to paper. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and they will sort things out.
While we are talking about libraries, there are collections of reference books at the Coutanche Library (the NoseyGenealogist will be releasing a film guide to what they have shortly) and smaller collections at both the Archive and the Central Library to supplement your knowledge of Jerseyâ€™s history and culture.
This is of necessity a scratch at the surface of family history research. I hope youâ€™ve found it helpful. Happy hunting, and – Ã€ bÃ©tÃ´t!
Guest blog by James McLaren from the Channel Islands Family History Society