Read the latest from the iMuseum. A family history special including highlights from the iMuseum launch events in Tynwald Week.

iMuseum Family History Special

Christian Family, c.1895, unknown photographer (PG/13116) © Manx National Heritage

With People Surnames from A – P now on iMuseum, this month’s newsletter is dedicated to family history, including a look back at some of the family research themed activities held at iMuseum during Tynwald Week. If you’re new to doing family history on the Isle of Man or just want to refresh your knowledge on some of the resources available, this newsletter will help to get you on your way.

Manx Family History Surgery – Top Tips from Priscilla Lewthwaite from the Isle of Man Family History Society

1. Always bring a paper copy to any research centre
2. Do only one side of your family at a time, go back as far as you can on the one family then have a break and tackle the other
3. Find out as much as possible about each generation before trying to take the family further back
4. Always keep a record of the resources you have used, so as not to waste time on your next visit

The Isle of Man Family History Society was formed in January 1979 to encourage the study of genealogy and family history, particularly within the Isle of Man. Being a member of the society benefits all those researching their families, whether they are Manx born or not. Members living abroad will find it rewarding to discover their Island heritage in this manner. To find out more, visit the website

Investigate an Object
As part of the iMuseum launch in Tynwald Week on Thursday 7th July Yvonne Cresswell, Curator of Social History gave an illustrated talk entitled ‘One Object...A Wealth of History’. Focusing on a needlework sampler in the MNH collections, the talk revealed how you can discover more about the history of an object; who made it and their family history, using a variety of historical sources in the National Library, Archive and iMuseum.

The talk was based on a chapter from the book ‘Unlocking The Past’ by Matthew Richardson and shows that objects in themselves provide the bare bones of history, whilst information about the people who made the objects and where and when they were made helps to put the flesh back onto history and the past.
(2007-0037) © Manx National Heritage

This sampler was made by Julia Ann Skelly when she was a 12 year old pupil at the Kirk German Parochial School in St. John's in 1883. It may only appear to have a basic amount of information on it but with the use of parish records such as baptism and marriage records, censuses, trade directories, maps, school registers and various other records it was possible to discover a wealth of information about Julia, her life and her family.

1891 Census – Onchan – District 10 – 7 Circular Road

Thomas Cubbon      Head Married 67 Car Proprietor Kirk German
Margaret Cubbon     Wife Married 56 Boarding House Keeper Kirk Braddan
2 boarders (advocate’s clerk and telegraph clerk)
Julia Skelly Servant Single  21 General Servant Foxdale

1901 Census – Onchan – District 13 – 5 Queen’s Terrace – no.90

Thomas Christian  Head Married 31 Grocer/ Employer Ramsey
Julia A(nn) Wife Married 30   Patrick
George G. Son Single 1   Douglas
Catherine Skelly    Mother-in-law Widow 66   Patrick
Evan J.        Brother-in-law        34 Living on own means Patrick
Here is just two examples of census records that show a part of Julia's life.

There is no further record of Julia and her family in the 1911 census or any record of their deaths on the Island. This evidences their voyage to a new world!

‘Unlocking the Past: A guide to exploring family and local history on the Isle of Man’ by Matthew Richardson is available to buy from

'Unlocking The Past' is a major new publication from Manx National Heritage which offers you practical advice about the ways in which you can unlock the secrets of the past, by using the enormous variety of records which exist on the Isle of Man.

Personal Memoirs
Extract from four pages of memoirs of Margaret Maguire (nee Wilson), known as Nan, written in 2002 specifically about her time as a housemaid to Miss Quayle of Bridge House, Castletown in the 1930s (MS 10494).    

An extract from Unlocking the Past by Matthew Richardson:

Personal recollections can be an invaluable resource for invoking the feeling or atmosphere of a bygone time or place. A hundred or more years ago such memoirs would only be written by the great and the good. Apart from the fact that only people of some social status were likely to be literate, it was generally accepted that only persons of high birth were likely to have done anything significant in their lives

Fortunately, since the 1960s and 70s the growing interest in working class history, and history ‘from below', coupled with advances in publishing, have encouraged a growth in personal memoirs. Many such volumes are held under G88 in the MNH library, and they shed an enormous amount of light on what life was like for ordinary people at various times during the twentieth century. George Quayle’s Legends of a Lifetime (1973) mixes personal recollections with Manx folklore and is an excellent memoir of rural life in the north of the Island around the time of the First World War. Pat Skillicorn’s Wave to Your Daddy (2006) mixes personal memoir with family history.


An early example of Births Marriages and Deaths appearing in the newspapers... Manx Liberal, 4th July 1840

Newspapers are a great resource for family history information and like personal memoirs, you may be able to gather information of a past era or place. They are even more useful in uncovering revelations about your relatives! Remember not everything you read in the press is true... search family names and see what you find.

A picture is worth a thousand words but your story tells us more
‘Add Your Story’ allows you to add your own information about a person, collection, place or topic on iMuseum. If you discover a census record of your family, know someone in a photograph or you have something to say about one of the objects on iMuseum, we invite you to share your story behind it. You could help us to put a personality to a picture or a story behind one of our collections.

Simply press the ‘Add Your Story’ button next to an object record on iMuseum and fill in and submit onscreen the share your story form. Manx National Heritage will review your story and may use edited highlights on iMuseum.

What’s New
The following new content is now available for you to Explore in iMuseum:

People, 1860s-late 20th century, from the National Photographic Archive
  • Surname H – 291 people
  • Surname P – 85 people
Babs Harvey, early 20th century (PG/12792) © Manx National Heritage

George Paton, c.1889 (PG/13070) © Manx National Heritage

Archibald Knox Watercolours

132 watercolours by the Manx artist Archibald Knox (1864-1933)

The Copse, Foxdale, 1884-1933 (1954-5650)

Explore Places, Visit…Frowde’s Douglas

John James Frowde was responsible for creating a remarkable photographic record of old Douglas that included a concerted effort to capture the streets around North Quay between 1932 and 1934, prior to demolition of many buildings and old thoroughfares. These images are accompanied by many detailed captions, full of anecdotes and relevant notes about each scene.

Arch Lane (or Guttery Gable), Douglas, late 19th-early 20th century (PG/8224/18/82) © Manx National Heritage

Explore collections, Look at...Library Collections

Introduction to the Isle of Man National Library

We hope you can visit us soon!

The iMuseum is open Wednesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, Thursdays until 7pm. The iMuseum is situated on Kingswood Grove in Douglas, only a short walk from the Manx Museum complex. It is planned to make iMuseum content available online early in 2012. Online access to newspaper articles will require a subscription but will continue to be free within the iMuseum building on Kingswood Grove.

iMuseum brings together a selection of archives, library and museum collections into one digital resource, and the content will grow significantly over the coming months and years as more of the national collections are digitised.

Please note: The extensive archives will take some time to make accessible through the iMuseum, for research such as family history you may still need to visit the Manx Museum Reading Room. Our staff at the iMuseum or Reading Room will offer guidance of which facility will be best for your research.
Copyright © 2011 Manx National Heritage, All rights reserved.
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