website security

Industrial England Workshop

A day-long exploration of the social, economic and cultural effects of the Industrial Revolutions on the lives of English people from 1750 to 1900
Saturday 1 November 2014 North York Central Library Auditorium

Co-sponsored by the Toronto Branch OGS and the Canadiana Department of the North York Central Library

William Bell Scott, Iron and Coal

Iron and Coal by William Bell Scott,1855-60

Enjoy a full day of fascinating lectures on the major effects of the Industrial Revolutions on English society and on your English ancestors. Hear our keynote speaker Kirsty Gray talk about the broad impacts of industrialization on the people and cities of England. You can choose lectures from other genealogy experts and social historians on various aspects of industrial England — from increasing literacy and access to education, to the effects of industrial work on food production and cookery in English households and the significance of the cotton mills of Lancashire.  There will also be a choice between lectures about three major industrial cities — Birmingham, London and Sheffield — that show how people’s lives changed as industrialization grew. Finally, you will have the opportunity to see what can be learned today from visiting English cities and towns where industrial development transformed the landscape and the lives of the people.

OGS members:
Non-members: $65

Registration is now closed.


(subject to change without notice)

8:00-9:00 AM — Registration and Coffee

9:00-10:30 AM — Welcome and Opening Plenary Session

Session P1 — Keynote Lecture: How the Industrial Revolution Changed the World
Speaker: Kirsty Gray
Starting in Britain in the mid-eighteenth century, the Industrial Revolution transformed the world and the way in which millions of people lived. Its effects were more revolutionary than any other development in human history since the discovery of agriculture more than 5,000 years ago. The lives of ordinary workers and their families were radically changed as patterns of work and trade were transformed and goods came from farther afield. This lecture serves to ‘set the scene’ for the workshop, detailing the effects of industrialization on people and cities in England.

10:30-10:50 AM — Break

10:50-11:50 AM — Concurrent Sessions: Group A

Session A1: Education, Literacy and Reading in Industrial England
Speaker: Paul Jones
This lecture first surveys the various educational systems in operation during the Industrial Revolution. Specific attention is paid to how these systems evolved over time. Throughout there is a focus on literacy and numeracy, the foundations for all other learning. Then the lecture gives an overview of the reading materials available to our ancestors at different moments during the Industrial Revolution. We will see how newspapers and periodicals evolved, as well as popular fiction, reference books and reading materials for children. Workshop materials will also include information as to how family historians can locate such nominal records as survive from educational institutions.

Session A2: Industrialization and Cookery in 19th Century England
Speaker: Lauren Goldstein
This lecture will explore the variety of changes in food production in the nineteenth century as well as the perception of cookery in England, using cookbooks as the main primary source. The effect of industrialization on the food industry will be discussed, particularly new technologies, such as canning, refrigeration, and shipping. In addition, three types of cookbooks will be examined, from mass-published cookbooks to community cookbooks to home manuscripts. The lecture will demonstrate how different types of cookbooks can be used as historical documents to illustrate the effects of industrialization, and how studying cookbooks offers an excellent opportunity for genealogists to trace their heritage through recipes.

Session A3: The Cotton Industry: Its place in my Family, in Lancashire, England, and the World
Speaker: Carol Nichols
The cotton industry dominated much of the economy of the British Empire during the 19th century especially in North-west England and influenced the lives of many of our ancestors.  The land and damp climate of Lancashire was ideal for the processing of the cotton, and huge mills lined the river valleys. This lecture will look at the interesting story of the manufacture of cotton in the life of Carol’s family and in the county of Lancashire and in the much wider world. Resources for researching the textile industries will be shared.

Engraving of Manchester 1840

Manchester from Kersal Moor by Edward Goodall, 1840

11:50 AM-1:00 PM — Lunch Break

There are several food outlets near the Library or bring your lunch. There will be the opportunity to join a brief tour of the Library during the break.

1:00-2:15 PM — Plenary Session

Session P2 — The Raw Materials of Industry and Industrial Power
Speaker: Kirsty Gray
More than anything, the Industrial Revolution witnessed dramatic development in the production and use of both natural and synthetic materials. The significance of these developments is that they enabled a huge leap to take place in the scale of human endeavour. Based on water and steam power, the new technologies created new skills as they destroyed old ones. Factory, foundry, mill and mine, each evolved a complex hierarchy, based on ownership, expertise, dexterity or danger. This lecture will focus on the working environment of your industrial ancestors and sources of information that can be obtained to develop a richer picture of their lives.

Lymington Iron Works c 1835

Lymington Iron Works by Edward Allom, c 1835

2:25-3:25 PM — Concurrent Sessions – Group B

Session B1: Birmingham: City of Dreams or Desperation
Speaker: Lynda Chiotti
Birmingham attracted thousands from counties in England and Ireland throughout the 19th century to labour in its mills and workshops, but a new beginning in the booming Midlands was no guarantee of prosperity. The influx of would-be workers and their families increased demands for housing and amenities, and challenged the social services offered by churches and workhouses. To describe a richly detailed picture of one family in industrial England, we take a fresh look at familiar sources, such as censuses and vital records, along with specialized privately-held records, plus cryptic family anecdotes and unique non-genealogical sources.

Session B2: East-End London, 1750-1918
Speaker: Lorri Busch
The East End of London has a long history of poverty and crime.  Immigrants flooded the area looking for a better life only to find themselves struggling to survive. Many were destitute, resorting to life in the workhouse over life on the street. The industrial revolution played a major role in the transformation of East End London and helped fuel changes in immigration, philanthropy, the Education Act and the Women’s movement.  This lecture will discuss changes in East End London during the period of 1750-1918 and the effects they had on its citizens. We will discuss the various repositories and the records they hold, online sources and under-utilized records that are beneficial to our research.

Session B3: Sheffield, The Steel City: Researching its People Using Family Stories, the Paper Records and Descendants’ DNA
Speaker: Linda Reid
Tracing 19th century working class Sheffield families reveals common threads of migration to the city and frequent moves within it, men who died of lung conditions and women who outlived them by many years, bastardy, and infant deaths. Noteworthy exceptions include a family who lived on the same street for over 60 years and a line with two generations of criminal activity. Doing autosomal DNA tests on descendants of different branches proves the validity of part of the paper trail and provides a base for further research.

3:25-3:40 PM — Break

3:40-4:55 PM— Plenary Session

Session P3: Reading Industrial Communities
Speaker: Kirsty Gray
Britain has some of the most extensive remains of industrialization in the world. These range from individual machines and buildings, through more complex sites to entire landscapes. Taken together, they represent an invaluable resource for understanding the recent past and the foundations for the present. Yet, as Britain becomes an increasingly post-industrial society, they also pose problems. How do we ensure that what remains has meaning for the generations to come? This lecture will explain how the signs of the industrial past can be recognized, what can be acquired in a visit to the place where your ancestors lived and worked, and the information available from local history museums and archives.

4:55-5:00 PM— Concluding Remarks



 Keynote Speaker — Kirsty Gray

Kirsty Gray
Kirsty Gray has over 15 years’ research experience and has her foot in many genealogical doors around the world. Her first involvement in family history came at the tender age of seven years with her maternal grandfather’s tree in hand. Obsessed with her great-grandmother’s maiden name of Sillifant, Kirsty began a one-name study on the name in 1999, publishing tri-annual journals on the surname for more than ten years. Founder member and Chair of the Society for One-Place Studies, Kirsty has two places registered, on the Devon/Cornwall border and is considering another study of a hamlet in Cornwall.

Kirsty took up genealogy professionally while training to be a teacher in 2002. Running Family Wise Limited, Kirsty ‘finds people’ and has conducted research for private individuals, solicitors, academics and companies worldwide.

As an author, Kirsty has written for many international publications on various topics for beginners to more advanced levels and her first book, Tracing Your West Country Ancestors, was published in March 2013 by Pen and Sword with her second, Tracing Your Industrial Ancestors, due out in early 2015. A sought-after lecturer, her knowledge and her energetic and infectious personality wows audiences around the world.

Appointed as Director of English Studies with the National Institute for Genealogical Studies (University of Toronto, Canada) in 2011, Kirsty has more recently been awarded Superstar Genealogist (Gold Medallist in the Rockstar Genealogist Awards 2013) for the UK/Ireland by fellow family history professionals.

Lorri Busch
Lorri Busch
, BComm, PLCGS, is a professional genealogist who has been researching her family history for more than 20 years. She previously lectured at “Finding Your Great War Ancestors” (Toronto 2012), the Ontario Genealogical Conference (2013) as well as lecturing at OGS Branch Meetings and Library Presentations.






Lynda Chiotti
Lynda Chiotti
has been an educator, facilitator and presenter to adult audiences on a variety of subjects for more than 20 years. She particularly enjoys making challenging or technical topics accessible to non-technical people. Her experience includes facilitated workshops for small groups, multi-day corporate events, and illustrated sessions at major international conferences. Lynda lives in Owen Sound and works as a web consultant, usability specialist, and e-business advisor. She is on the board of the Alzheimer Society Grey Bruce and on the executive of Bluewater Toastmasters. Lynda is also a member of the Ontario Genealogical Society Publishing Committee and the Bruce Grey Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society.



Lauren Goldstein
Lauren R. Goldstein
received her BA (Honours) from Queen’s University and her MA in history from McMaster University. She is currently completing her PhD in British history at McMaster. Her dissertation focuses on perceptions of food and the origin of the idea of “bad” English cookery in nineteenth century Britain. She uses cookbooks as her main primary source, including mass publications, community cookbooks, and cookery manuscripts. Ms. Goldstein’s research includes a transnational approach, questioning the roles of the Empire and the Continent in the development of an English food identity. She hopes to study more cookbooks as part of her ongoing interest in food history.



Paul Jones
A retired publishing executive, Paul Jones is a business consultant, award-winning writer, and family history enthusiast. He has chaired a number of volunteer organizations, including the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, and recently concluded a term on the Board of Canada’s History Society. He was a co-founder of the Toronto History Lecture, holds a Professional Learning Certificate from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, contributes the “Roots” column to Canada’s History magazine and speaks regularly at genealogical events on off-the-beaten-path topics.





Carol Nichols

Carol Nichols
developed an interest in the textile industries in England after discovering her grandmother worked in the cotton mills of Stalybridge, Lancashire. Many other relatives were workers producing linen, wool and silk. Carol is actively involved in discovering her family in Canada and the U.K. and in researching the times and places in which they lived. As a member of Toronto Branch, OGS, Carol has offered many courses and presentations on the use of technology in family history and on how to use resources effectively.




Linda Reid
Linda L. Reid
is a retired librarian who has been researching her British roots for thirty years. She is the program co-ordinator for Toronto Branch and the compiler of the Branch’s electronic bulletin. For many years she has been a volunteer in the Toronto Family History Centre. She speaks at conferences, workshops and other events in Ontario. Linda’s paternal grandparents emigrated from Sheffield, now in South Yorkshire, in 1913. Many of their ancestors moved from villages in the West Riding to Sheffield during the early 19th century industrial boom.





By public transit: North York Central Library is connected directly to the North York Centre subway station, on the Yonge line. Inter-city trains and buses link with the subway at Union, Dundas, Finch or York Mills stations. Allow at least 35 minutes from Union or Dundas, aor 10-15 minutes from York Mills or Finch, to get to North York Centre.

By car: North York Central Library is at 5120 Yonge Street, Toronto M2N 5N9, on the west side at Park Home Avenue (about halfway between Sheppard and Finch). From Highway 401, exit northbound at Yonge Street; proceed north to Park Home Avenue (6th or 7th traffic light) and turn left. The most convenient parking ($5 per day on Saturdays) is under the building—enter from Novotel on Park Home Avenue, or from Beecroft Road (parallel and west of Yonge Street). There is also parking available in a public lot on the west side of Beecroft, across the street from the Central Library building.


North York Central Library is wheelchair accessible. For more information on workshop accessibility, cancellation and refunds, late and at-the-door registrations, and copyright, visit our Policies page.