In the 1920s there were over a million coalminers working in over 3000 collieries across Great Britain, and the industry was one of the most important and powerful in British history. It dominated the lives of generations of individuals, their families and communities, and its legacy is still with us today - many of us have a coalmining ancestor. Yet family historians often have problems in researching their mining forebears. Locating the relevant records, finding the sites of the pits, and understanding the work involved and its historical background can be perplexing. That is why Brian Elliott's concise, authoritative and practical handbook will be so useful, for it guides researchers through these obstacles and opens up the broad range of sources they can go to in order to get a vivid insight into the lives and experiences of coalminers in the past. His overview of the coalmining history - and the case studies and research tips he provides - will make his book rewarding reading for anyone looking for a general introduction to this major aspect of Britain's industrial heritage.
His directory of regional and national sources and his commentary on them will make this guide an essential tool for family historians searching for an ancestor who worked in coalmining underground, on the pit top or just lived in a mining community.
Brian Elliott is a well-known local historian and editor with a special interest in British coalmining history. His father was a miner, so were his uncles; and several of his male ancestors worked in the pits. Among his many books on the subject are Barnsley Pits and Pitmen, The Miners' Strike Day by Day, Yorkshire's Flying Pickets in the 1984/85 Miners' Strike, Yorkshire Miners, Yorkshire Mining Veterans, South Yorkshire Mining Disasters (2 volumes) and Lord Mason: Barnsley Pit Lad to Peer and Coalminers (forthcoming).