‘Capturing Cambridge is putting local history on the map…’
Capturing Cambridge has passed the 12,000 records milestone. Gradually the project has been growing, focused on its mission to capture and record the many histories of those who lived in Cambridgeshire. There is still a great many histories to uncover, especially when you think about how many people have lived and walked through the streets of Cambridge (a town that dates back to Roman times). As we continue this journey, we will soon be commencing a deep dive into the life of Josiah Chater with our digitization of his diaries (1844-84). Before we begin this, it seems appropriate to take stock of where we have come from on our large mapping project. How did we get here?
The project has been going since 2013 when the Mill Road History Society developed an ambitious community project to record as many histories of Cambridgeshire and its inhabitants past and present. Capturing Cambridge has since received Heritage Lottery Funding and is now hosted by the Museum of Cambridge.
One of the first records published was a history of 94a Mill Road (only a few streets down from the Mill Road History Society[JD1] ). It contains early census information dating back to the turn of the twentieth century. More impressive, however, was the use of media, such as audio recordings to capture the rich personal histories of the Gee family, their time in Cambridge and their deep roots in the local community. These oral histories continued to grow. Currently, Capturing Cambridge has an archive of nearly 10,000 images, prints, and audio recordings that cover a range of topics from World War histories to documents and oral histories on Cambridgeshire’s Churches, schools, and work life in shops, local sites such as Addenbrooks (the old one), and the railway.
Mrs Gee’s Shop on Mill Road
The long history of Cambridge has been exciting and diverse. Some of the most popular page visits on Capturing Cambridge have explored Black and Asian histories. In 2022, for instance, the film celebrating the life and work of abolitionist campaigner Olaudah Equiano (including the film FILM: ‘The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano’) entered our top 5 most viewed pages. More recent history includes one of the first black pub landlords at Midland Tavern pub, who ensured a vibrant place for Caribbean culture within the community. With regards to capturing Cambridge’s Asian heritage, the career of Sir Hari Singh Gour (1870 – 1949) received over two thousand page views, making it our most visited page of 2022. A contemporary form of Asian history has included Divya Ramkumar’s wonderful contribution that teaches visitors about Bharatanatyam – a South Indian dance form that uses rhythmic foot work and abstract body movement as a form of storytelling. From some of our earliest records to its most popular, Capturing Cambridge has enjoyed collecting and sharing these rich histories of the town.
Film ‘The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano’
Our next big project will be to digitise the diaries of Cambridge resident Josiah Chater. We hope to deepen our knowledge of the town by exploring the 40 years he recorded in his diary.
However, these are not the only stories we want to capture and share. Capturing Cambridge is about ‘putting local history on the map’, so if you have any history of the county, whether its family or independent research, why not share it with us? Simply email email@example.com with as much detail on the people, relevant dates, and any corresponding documentary evidence. In doing so, you will be helping us in our mission as we capture the history of Cambridgeshire.