family history group activities - 2012
During the year we welcomed many new members, including some from Chelmsford U3A. Our programme was varied - we used the U3A projector and watched a DVD of Essex in the past, showing how Essex has changed; one from U3A resources - 'Preserving Your Family History with Multimedia'; and just before Remembrance Sunday one from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission called 'Debt of Honour' about the war graves.
We had talks from outside speakers - Dr Jane Pearson talked about life in the eighteenth century workhouse, created to 'set the poor to work' and to try and deter people from ending up there! Meryl Catty gave us a talk called 'Family History at Your Fingertips' - full of information about family history websites. We also have had presentations by members of our group – we had two presentations by Clive one on Ancestry when he was able to use a BT hotspot to connect to the Internet and one on 'Family Historian' showing us what versatile software this is; and Allen showed us how to repair photographs using Photoshop Elements and Picasa 3.9. Pauline impressed us with old photos in their original state and repaired.
We spent an excellent afternoon at Great Baddow library using their Wi-Fi on our U3A laptops.
At various meetings members bought interesting things to show us - Di brought the 'heirloom' she has created for her family - a file with many photos, certificates and cuttings about her the lives of her parents' families. Pauline brought a 'mystery object' - an old percolator in the hope that someone would recognise it and date it. Martin had an 'old' Ordnance Survey map showing an area of London in great detail. Barbara brought along a beautifully made ‘slipper satin’ wedding dress, to see if we could suggest when it was made. Shirley had photos of her Uncle's original war grave and the two either side with a wooden crosses, and then of the stone headstones for the same soldiers. Tony brought along his grandfather’s 'dead man's penny' and Olive had the letter sent by King George VI to school children at the end of war.
Then we had stories - Pauline’s search for her real father, and finding her half-brother and new family; several stories of romances where the man rode miles and miles on his bike to court his lady. Mark Armstrong’s letter from the trenches days before he was killed, brought tears to the eyes. Di gave us the idea of not only a family history book, but also for a book of her own history – how many of us have done that? Maureen told us about getting round a brick wall when she found one of her lot in in The Old Bailey, sentenced to 7 years transportation to Tasmania, for stealing 7 handkerchiefs. He then later returned to London after his sentence and left £2.5 million when he died! Allen told us of one of Diana’s ancestors who emigrated to New Zealand in 1850, one of the first, and witnessed the fire in Wellington Docks.
Our last meeting of the year featured Martin's quiz about Old Essex followed by a 'feast'! Do you know what is remarkable about Greensted Church or which royal lived at Essex's only Royal Palace [Beauleigh - now New Hall]? We found out, thanks to Martin.