Rhiannon Phillips, who is employed at the Gwent Archives in Ebbw Vale, was our speaker on 25th September. She started with a quick survey of the information available to members at the Archives.
She then used an undervalued resource, School Log Books,
to trace events in the locality during World War One.
It was interesting to learn of the difficulties recorded by Head Teachers at the time. There were regular staff shortages caused by the call-up of male teachers and the loss of female staff who were needed for medical care and other wartime tasks. Irregular attendance of pupils was also a problem with pupils being required to help with agricultural needs and also often leaving to take up employment in, what were for them, well paid jobs and needed to help the domestic finances in the absence of fathers away at the Front.
Rhiannon took us through the years until the final celebrations when victory was achieved.
Unfortunately a weakness for family historians (as opposed to general historians) was that log books rarely named individuals- simply stating ‘an old boy’ or ‘a former teacher’. Actual naming would, of course, be more helpful in tracing the activities of our ancestors. Nevertheless it is an interesting source of information which certainly gives a feeling for the period