The Glazebrook-Rylands Project

The Glazebrook – Rylands Project consisted of arranging, repackaging, and cataloguing two large archival collections created between the late 1700’s and the early 1900’s by various members of the Glazebrook and Rylands families. These archival collections included diaries, correspondence, note-books, and a vast array of ephemera relating to the two families.

The families had been joined together by the marriage of John Rylands of Bewsey House and Martha Glazebrook at St Paul’s Church, Warrington in 1808 and remained closely connected for many generations to come.

The two collections were kindly donated to the Archives by descendants of the families who created them. When combined, and added to certain records already held by the museum, the two collections formed one larger and more complete record of the family’s history.

Seeing research potential in this newly created collection, one of the donors agreed to fund the detailed cataloguing of the records and the promotion of their content to the wider public.

Once the collection had been catalogued to item level, making it accessible to researchers and staff, the next phase was to select two areas of historical research in which the collection was particularly strong and to promote the archive using these subjects. After much consideration the two subjects chosen were politics and medicine.

A selection of historical documents were chosen to show the family’s involvement with these two themes over the years. Each document was then scanned in and an explanation of its content and context was researched.

All of the documents selected relate to the family itself, but also to the wider events that were changing Warrington and the country as a whole. They show how the records of one family can be used to explore events that were affecting an entire society.

Some of the items were sad, some were comical, and some just unexpected, but all breathe the life of real people into events that can otherwise seem vast and impersonal.

There were many other subjects which could have been selected and many other documents which could have been chosen on these two subjects, but hopefully the items that follow will encourage readers to see how written documents can really bring to life the people who wrote them and the society in which they were created.