A House History – a Case Study (Part 2)

Having assembled all you’ve found out so far, it’s time to begin the seach for new information.

The can be done in two ways. If you have access to the web, begin to search our collections and relevant websites mentioned in the first part or visit John Gray Centre where computer searching can be done with assistance.

In this example we looked at the Scotland’s Places website, Scotland’s People website (with a preliminary look at Freecen, where the transcribed data should always be confirmed by accessing the originals), the Dictionary of Scottish Architects, the digital maps at the National Library of Scotland and made several general searches with likely keywords using our favorite search engines.

Detail of John Muir Birthplace in the 1890s

There are other useful websites that may be relevant to particular projects but please bear in mind that the quality of information available on the web can be variable; John Muir Centre staff can guide you. For our property the result now looks a bit like this:

Late 1700s – built (aspect & architecture); owned by Fall & Delisle families

1800c – owned by Dr William Wightman and then son Dr Charles Wightman

1826 – part occupied by Mrs Janet Kennedy, mealdealer

1836 – part occupied by Daniel Muir

1841 – occupied by several families, including John Finlay, spirit dealer

1851 – occupied by several families (census data)

1861 – occupied by several families, shop now Dunbar Post Office (census data)

1860s–1910s – multiple occupancy continues, shop eventually a drapers

1890s – photographs  available

1940s–1960s – shop was taxi office, Ladies & Gents outfitters

1970s – Ocean Dry Cleaners (photo available)

1980–81 – top flat becomes Museum, shop becomes photography studio (photos and postcards available)

2001 – purchase by John Muir Birthplace Trust

With this knowledge in hand, it’s time to visit the John Gray Centre in part 3 of this case study.




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