Saturday, 8 June 2019

Book Review: Tracing Your Freemason, Friendly Society & Trade Union Ancestors

This is one of the latest books from prolific UK history and family history publisher, Pen and Sword.

It would be the exception if a British male ancestor was not a Freemason, member of a Friendly Society or a Trade Union. My father and grandfather were, they left artifacts, so I looked to learn more from this new book.

The early material is on sources, those you find like those artifacts, oral history and published records. Chapter four is on the early history back to Greece, if not the Garden of Eden, Rome and Guilds.

The next three chapters, constituting 70% of the text, are devoted to the three types of organization in the title.

Freemasonry, offering an oath-bound social space for ritual and social bonding and engagement in charitable work, reached peak membership in the 1950s and 60s. In the chapter, you'll learn about the history, how to get information on members, including on Ancestry and elsewhere as well as a summary of controversies. Look for mention of individual lodges of possible relevance.

Friendly Societies, such as the Oddfellows, combined fellowship with mutual assistance through insurance. As in the previous chapter, there's much detail illustrating activities. With the introduction of the Welfare State membership went into serious decline.

The chapter on Trade Unions offers similar information on their history, culture and sources of information on membership. Membership peaked at 13 million in 1980 then declined through the years when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister and after down to 8 million in 1997. As with the other chapters, there are many sources and websites listed to aid investigation.

Tracing Your Freemason, Friendly Society and Trade Union Ancestors
by Daniel Weinbren
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Published: 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 188p

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