Research, as anyone who has done some will tell you, can be as long as a piece of string.
The research into the book I’m writing about The House of Mirelle is no exception.
The House of Mirelle book spans over 150 years of a family’s history, 90 years of Hull’s history and almost 40 years of the history of fashion. My goodness, but it’s huge!
All research starts with a question and a gut desire to uncover, reveal, explore and explain something that is interesting to you.
In my case, the story of Mirelle is fascinating and especially so when viewed in context; it is inextricably tied up with the history of fashion and retail, tailoring and design, women’s working lives and the history of Hull also.
Someone summed it up to me once, saying: “you got curious.” Well yes, that’s a good way of putting it, I certainly did.
I couldn’t have guessed at the start of the journey what would be uncovered and revealed and I’m not exaggerating when I say it has been absolutely fascinating.
My goodness what a grand story this is to curate and tell.
It describes periods of Hull’s history, long disappeared over the generations. It talks about a rarified time in fashion retail and design also.
It starts in the ’30s when families gathered around the wireless rather than television and theatres resounded with laughter at vaudeville and variety shows.
It was unthinkable, immoral for women not to wear corsets in the 1930s and that speaks volumes about women’s status and how clothing and fashion was dictated by what social occasions you dressed for during the day.
It’s not only about the fashion, though.
To tell the story of Mirelle accurately takes a lot of detailed, meticulous work. I spend time seeking out and exploring facts and then verifying them. These facts answer questions I have but soon new ones emerge that then are worked on.
Seeking out people who had a part to play in the story is really important. People’s oral history is part of a phenomenological research element too.
That mouthful means: “how you interpret your experience” and “what you say about your experience straight from the horses mouth,” by the way.
All of this behind the scenes legwork is important and coming to Hull for a research trip in September is all part of it.
I’ll be based in the City for a whole week and I’ve got a busy itinerary already.
I’ll be working for a couple of days at the History Centre verifying facts in the City archive, in Beverley for a day and Hornsea too, I’ll be talking to new people with more stories to share and taking a tour of all the places in the City and outside that have parts to play in the history of Mirelle.
If you see me walking by and recognise me, do stop and say ‘hello.’
If you want to speak to me about your memory of Mirelle go right ahead and contact me and we’ll arrange to meet while I’m in town also.
I’m in town from Sunday 18th September through to the week of 26th September.
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s to coming to Hull!
© Carrie Henderson 2016