I’ve been involved with “Addressing Health: Morbidity, Mortality and Occupational Health in the Victorian and Edwardian Post Office”, which looks at the health of postal workers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
After getting the Addressing Health project off the ground with the help of Sandra, the Trust Volunteer for Research in Scotland and Adrianne, the SLP Trust Volunteer in Northern Ireland, we managed to get together a team of researchers for each of the regions involved.
I first of all led the team in the South West of England region. About half of the team actually lived in the SW region, but the others had an interest in that area for all sorts of reasons. Some had researched their own SW family histories, some had not but were very interested in the history of the Post Office or had relatives who were postmen. We also shared technical ability and learned how to use spreadsheets and other processes.
Very soon I was able to hand over to Mary, an experienced Family History researcher. I was amazed by the knowledge the team members had in all sorts of areas and their willingness to help one another when searches in the records led to a dead end. This was all fascinating detective work and opened up the world of records for many of us, so that we could feel close to the lives of our subjects.
The important thing was that we were able to meet via Zoom and got to know one another quite well. We also had some wonderful lunchtime talks from members of the team at the Addressing Health project at King’s College London, our research partners. I learnt a lot about the history of medicine which enhanced my own interest in social history.
This was an excellent project greatly helped by Dr. Laura Newman and Professor David Green from Kings College. It has produced some really wonderful stories from all three regions and has meant that people from different regions could meet up and share research as u3a members. It is an example of how things might work in the future with any member from any area being able to take part.
You can read some of the research conducted by u3a members: https://addressinghealth.org.uk/1901-postal-pensioners/1901-postal-pensioners/