Monday, 22 February 2021

Conversations, photographs and documents; taken out of context they can all be misunderstood!

We’ve all been in that situation, having heard a conversation and got the wrong end of the story. The same can happen with documents. We look at an entry half way through a volume and misunderstand what we are looking at. 

There was an example this morning in our group, a member asked why a 1902 list of Glasgow voters were all women. Good question! It seemed odd, and there were some ideas as to why this may be, but how would we get to the truth?

I went to Ancestry where we can view the records ( and found the entry that was mentioned in our group. I then paged back to the start of the section to read the heading which read, ‘Supplementary list of persons other than Parliamentary Electors entitled to vote in the election of the Town Councillors for the City and Royal Burgh of Glasgow’. These women were therefore only permitted to vote in certain elections. Their male counterparts will have already been listed in the other lists. Interestingly this list is not all women. There are some men but predominantly women are listed.

What do we learn? Don’t take a record out of context. If you can, page through to the start of the volume or section. Find out who created a record and why. Read other entries to see the whole picture.

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