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This afternoon I spoke to the Friends of Peterborough Museum about the folklore of Peterborough and its surrounding region, the subject of one of my recent books. I have given a number of talks on this subject at different venues in Peterborough, but it seemed singularly appropriate to speak about Peterborough’s folklore at the museum (and to a group of people who volunteer there) since Peterborough’s leading nineteenth-century folklorist, Charles Dack (1848-c.1921) was the museum’s volunteer curator in the 1890s and 1910s (alongside his day job as a clerk on the Great Eastern Railway). Dack is a fascinating figure, an autodidact who lacked the financial support to get much of his work printed outside of local newspapers, but easily as competent as any folklorist of the period. He was born at Holt, Norfolk, and was also an accomplished organist and an authority on porcelain. However, I have not been able to identify a single photo of Dack or even establish the date of his death with any certainty. However, his papers were acquired by Cambridge University Library in 1921 (presumably after his death). I wrote about Dack’s papers on the blog of Cambridge University Library’s Special Collections here.
Unfortunately, no-one at Peterborough Museum, or among the Friends of Peterborough Museum, has heard of Charles Dack. However, as usual I received some interesting snippets of folklore from the audience, and I am grateful to the Friends of Peterborough Museum for inviting me to speak.