Society Spring 2020 projects

Extract from circular to SAHAAS members addressing concerns over excavations at Verulamium, 1931

If you are looking to fill up some time over the next few weeks, perhaps consider getting involved in a Society project. We are starting two new projects here and reminding you about the continuing St Julian’s project.

We have also suggested some other ideas that might be of interest if you just want to browse old photographs and newspapers.

We expect to add further projects and ideas of things to do over the next few weeks. We’ll drop you an email when we have added fresh material.

1861 census transcription project

We wish to transcribe the 1861 census for St Albans into spreadsheets with the resulting material being available to researchers via the Society’s Library. If you are interested or would like to know more, please email us via

You will need to be an existing subscriber to either or or be prepared to pay for a short subscription to either. Also, some (very) basic experience using spreadsheets (such as Microsoft Excel) is expected.

Society minute book transcription project

A couple of years ago, several members transcribed the Society’s minutes covering the 1845-1915 period. The results have proved valuable for researchers working on the 175th anniversary project.

We now wish to extend the project to cover 1916-39, the period that includes the Wheelers’ excavations at Verulamium. We will send you scans of pages from the minute books via email for you to transcribe using a suitable word processor (like Microsoft Word). Please email if you would like to get involved.

St Julian’s research project

This research groups continues to transcribe the detailed household accounts written in two volumes dating from 1738-85 of a Mrs Ashurst who was a tenant living in St Julian’s Mansion, Watling Street. This was her country house.

The books provide fascinating background to daily life in the mid-18th century, specifically St Albans. Most of the pages are for purchases of food commodities e.g., meat, fish, tea, flour, sugar etc. Some are for heating and cleaning materials. Some of the accounts are for wages of servants and payments to tradespeople etc. Already we are noticing that she bought enormous amounts of food at a time, especially meat and she seems to go through an awful lot of mops!

If you are familiar with Microsoft Excel and would like to know more, please contact Sandy Norman via

Whiling away some time

Do you have some time on your hands when you just wish to loose yourself looking at old photographs? Why not have a look at this website?

Britainfromabove is full of aerial photos of St Albans – and practically anywhere else you can think of in the UK. It is free to use but best register your name etc so you can zoom in and out of individual photos.

Want to do some research?

The ongoing project to digitise a sizeable tranche of the British Library’s newspaper collection is of incredible benefit to local historians, whatever their interests. Coverage for the British Newspaper Archives starts around 1700 and finishes in the late 1900s. You will find for example 40 years of the Herts Advertiser have already been posted as well as pages from hundreds of other newspapers from around the British Isles (and some from India, the West Indies and Canada). As you will expect, stories range from the local – cats stuck up trees for example – to international wars and epidemics.

Please click here from further details. Subscriptions cost £12.95 for one month, £25.92 for three months or £72.00 for one year. If you do join and find something of local interest, perhaps consider writing a note for the Society’s newsletter or website. We can help you with that if you wish.