As genealogists we seek information about our ancestors from as far back in time as possible. That being said, not all researchers may be familiar with the term, but some of the most important records we find were created during the time of the Little Ice Age.
The Little Ice Age was a climatic period that lasted from about AD 1300 to 1850, a time in history when, from a physical or environmental standpoint, in comparison to the warm periods that preceded and followed it, was characterized by:
substantially cooler temperatures around the globe
mostly unstable weather
more frequent and intense storms
especially challenging food production
harsh living conditions
All of these factors had enormous impact on the lives and livelihoods of people and contributed to famine, spread of disease, social unrest, injury to being and habitat, and, in some cases, migration.
Summarizing of vital data began in earnest during this time. Apart from purely religious reasons or to establish hereditary claims, it may have been instituted in response to the need for more accurate rolls for churches and governments in identifying individuals from whom they could raise funds to support expanded social programs – parish relief efforts, poor laws and workhouses – involving the care of their citizens, more of whom fell into dire straits as the Little Ice Age progressed.
Because the Little Ice Age is the time frame that most coincides with genealogical research, it is important to understand the physical conditions under which people lived in order to assemble the most complete histories of families.
This presentation will hopefully bring perspective to the study of the generations of families who lived through the time of the Little Ice Age.
This was presented as part of the Unlock the Past - Seattle
seminar on September 6, 2018.
50 minutes. The recording is also included as part of the monthly or annual membership.