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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Investigating furriers

Did your ancestor work in the fur industry in times past? Melody Amsel-Arieli reveals what life was like for them


Through winters past, people travelling in open, horsedrawn carts, sleighs, and carriages braved freezing winds, sleet, and snow by bundling up in furs. In addition to draping greatcoats with mink, marten, or raccoon scarves, shawls, cloaks, or capes, many tucked buffalo robes or rugs about their laps and legs. Scores also kept ears and hands snug in fluffy angora-goat, bear, or fox muffs.

From the 1600s through modern times, fur, possibly the first material ever to clothe man, has been extremely fashionable across Europe. Most was imported from Russia, North America, and other cold-climate countries.

The best were ‘harvested’ as winter approached, when mammals’ coats, grown rich and thick, were at their prime. Those from land and sea otters are most durable, followed by beaver, seal, raccoon, skunk, Persian lamb, sable, and so on, down to inexpensive hares and rabbit furs, acquired in Ireland or northern England.

Fashionable & durable

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About Family Tree

Welcome to the Christmas issue of Family Tree – we’ve got festive family history treats galore in store for you. Dive into our delicious feast of digitised documents – rare historic collections for you to enjoy browsing and researching on your device. Enjoy some genealogy jollies: a family history crossword, quiz and memories of Christmas traditions from centuries past. And last but not least, this issue sees the launch of the Family Tree Academy – this is your opportunity to hone your family history skills. In part 1, this issue, we’ve got documents for you to decipher, old handwriting for you to transcribe and a research case study for you to pit your wits against. Join in with our learning experience today to become a better family historian!