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Van Vugt is absolutely right that determining the causes of emigration requires close examination of local circumstances. He goes farthest in this direction in his effort to prove that the counties most "distressed" by repeal of the Corn Laws in lost the most immigrants in the years But his sources lend him weak support. He could have drawn on a wealth of geographical studies and maps to understand the regional variation of soil types and farming conditions in mid-century English counties, but instead relies on a report by a correspondent for the Times.

More seriously, he bases his argument that emigration in this period was driven by distress after repeal of the Corn Laws on the scanty information provided by his sample of ships' passenger lists. They mention the county of origin of only farmers, just 22 percent of all farmers in the sample and a much smaller proportion than that of the total farming population that Van Vugt believes left Britain at mid-century. Without knowing a great deal more about where immigrants came from and where they went, I find his conclusions unconvincing.

Geographical knowledge is the crux of the problem now facing migration historians. The last fifty years of scholarship drew the general outlines of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European immigration to America. We now want to fill in those maps with much more precise information about who emigrated and why. Inquiry at this level demands more detailed research that places migrants within a series of geographical contexts over the course of their lives. For the very reasons Van Vugt mentions, carrying out longitudinal micro-histories of English and Scottish immigrants will be devilishly difficult, but at least one study of internal migration indicates how it might be done.

Cornish lead miners in the Midwest get nearly as much attention as the much greater numbers of Welsh, English, and Scottish miners and engineers in Pennsylvania.

Do immigrants to Wales have enough opportunity to learn Welsh?

Given the strong incentives these days for academic authors to title their books to appeal to as large an audience as possible, it is quixotic to wish that Van Vugt had called this book "English Immigrants in the Old Northwest. Charlotte J. Leicester: Leicester University Press, Gwilym R.

Published by the author, ; Anne Kelly Knowles. Wales in America: Scranton and the Welsh, Cardiff: University of Wales Press, The migrant letter collections we looked at often feature letters sent between family members and names are often ambiguous. The numbers of letters attributed to individuals may appear to be relatively small, but this may be a result of this ambiguity. In the collections studied for this project there are entries for 'Montgomery, William', 'Montgomery, Wm', 'Montgomery, Wm.

If we use a Bubble graph to chart the locations of these entries over time, we notice a great deal of contiguity in terms of place and time. For instance,'Montgomery, Wm' and 'Montgomery, W. Figure 2. Bubble graph depicting movements of William Montgomery.

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It is hardly conclusive, but a graph such as this gives us reason to suspect that these four variants represent the same person. If this is the case it would appear that William Montgomery travelled from Portadown to Cincinnati sometime between and He then travelled to New Orleans in With the exception of a trip to Mobile, Alabama in , he seems to have lived in New Orleans until , when he went to New York perhaps to get the boat and returned to Portadown. He remained in Portadown until when he went to Manchester, England. Figure 3. Tabular display of Montgomery locations.

Of course, much of this may appear conjecture, but we do know that letters were sent from each of these locations on specific dates and a tabular listing ordered by date seems to bear out this narrative. For someone researching 'William Montgomery' of Portadown, this may give a springboard for further in-depth research - research that might corroborate the initial scenario. An analysis of the recipients of letters from these 'people' might also bolster the case. What is important is not that the details are relatively inconclusive, but that we can get at them so easily.

From a broader perspective, data visualisations form a context within which the individual narratives gain definition. The large movement of people to countries such as the United States can be seen as particular journeys starting in specific locales and progressing in idiosyncratic ways. The more comprehensive the dataset, the more detailed these narratives become. The problem with all of these analyses, however, is that we are rarely dealing with a comprehensive corpus.

There are an additional three letters from Ireland to James Smith. On the surface, James Smith would seem to be a privileged son with whom everyone was anxious to communicate, but who did not respond at all. Indeed Hugh Smith for all his endeavours does not receive any correspondence in return. However, this collection is comprised of just 18 letters, so it is almost certain that not all of the letters are at our disposal.

This trivial and obvious example points to larger issues regarding any data visualisation of large numbers of letters; we rarely, if ever, have all the data at our disposal and must bear in mind these gaps in our records when drawing conclusions. Nevertheless, from Hugh's correspondence to James, we know that Hugh was in New York and James was more than likely in Fall River in the period between and It might go without saying, but it is a fact that Hugh was alive when he wrote those letters and so was James, so we have at least some biographical data that helps create a picture of their lives.


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A useful starting point when visualising metadata relating to migrant letter collections is to track the correspondents' movements over time. Figure 4 details the origin points shown with red dots and the destination points shown in blue dots for the letters contained in the four datasets. Unsurprisingly, given the datasets being used here, the majority of correspondents communicate between Ireland and various locations in America. Figure 4. We can also explore the migratory patterns of an individual or family.

The Lough collection, for example, is comprised of 99 letters. Of these letters we are missing the origins of 9 letters and the destinations of In other words, we are missing 21 out of location elements; all other locations are available and can be mapped with varying levels of granularity. Figure 5. Map of correspondence of Lough collection.

Location data can be mapped, but other than telling us where letters were sent from and received, there is little to be gleaned. Arguably, a map only really becomes useful when another dimension is added.

GENUKI: Letters from Welsh Settlers in New York State, , Wales

Interactivity is a powerful component that allows the user to choose what letters they want represented on the map using facets such as year, person or place Figure 6 , making it possible to narrow down a search to letters by a particular author, from a particular period, sent to or from a particular location.

Additionally, a map that represents time graphically such as that shown in Figure 7 helps us to understand where places figure in the temporal narrative of a collection. For example, Figure 7 demonstrates a consistent presence in Winsted, Connecticut, in the Lough letters, with later excursions into Westfield and then Torrington. The Bubble Graph represented in Figure 8 uses location and year as its axes.

The bubble size represents the number of letters, while the colour represents the person. Unfortunately the large number of letters without a date in the Lough collection - 35 out of 99 - means we have a large number of letters without a year.

Figure 8. Bubble graph for the Lough collection. As shown in the time map for the Lough collection Figure 7 , there is a persistent sample of letters originating or terminating in Winsted starting in and ending in Looking at Figure 8, we can see that Winsted is the earliest American location, featuring in letters written by Elizabeth, Annie, and Julia Lough.

Elizabeth's letters are the earliest but they end as far as this collection is concerned in Julia begins writing from Winsted in and continues to do so until She takes up her pen again in but this time writing from Torrington. She writes once more from this location in again as far as the collection reveals. Annie, however, begins writing from Winsted in and continues to do so until , while Alice begins writing from Westfield in and continues to do so until In essence, Elizabeth and Annie do not move from Winsted once there, Alice seems to reside only in Westfield.

Only Julia moves location, beginning in Winsted, but ultimately moving to and staying in Torrington. Figure 9. Correspondents also in the Winsted area.

Happy Birthday, Aug. 23, 1854, Jane Lewis Roberts! Welsh Immigrant 1866

When studying migration letters, the obvious approach is to restrict analyses to collections that are concerned only with the letters of migrants. However, in doing this one may miss unexpected connections that might throw more light on a correspondent.

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For example, we can also examine Winsted as a location that features in other letter collections. While not explicitly adding to our knowledge of the Loughs' own story, it does put their situation in context. It is quite likely that the Lough sisters would at least have been aware of a celebrity in their midst. If nothing else, this shows that Fall River was not a political backwater. For instance, most of the letters seem to be from to , with a majority of those from the 's Figure One in five people in Wales speaks Welsh, and one in four children attends a Welsh-language school.

It has been an uphill battle. The long border that once made Wales vulnerable to English conquest also exposes it to English immigration: A full quarter of the population is non-native compared with about 10 percent in Scotland. Militant language activists used to burn down English vacation homes. These days all signs and several public services are bilingual. There is a dedicated Welsh-language television network. Welsh vocabulary, a garble of Celtic consonants to the uninitiated, is expanding. A more serious issue is that the census showed a decline in the share of Welsh speakers to 19 percent from 21 percent a decade earlier.

The improved official status of the language has failed to solve one problem, said Geraint Talfan Davies, chairman of the Welsh National Opera: The growing percentage of Welsh speakers in southeastern Wales matters less to the language than its decline in the northern and western heartlands, where it has been the language of a good majority.