We are welcoming some new members this month and sincerely hope that the society will be instrumental in progressing their family history research. September is traditionally the time when new beginnings are made with family history. This year has been different. Back in March when the prospect ahead of us looked as if we would have hours of time to fill, many of us thought that family history was an ideal occupation with so much more now available online. In the event it was amazing how many other activities took priority – or was it the thought that “there’s always tomorrow” which prevented us from making headway?
Your committee continues to meet via Zoom but without our members’ monthly meetings it is difficult to get any feedback from the general membership about how you see the society progressing. Not one person answered the question in the last newsletter about whether you would be prepared to take part in virtual membership meetings!
However, undeterred, the committee has decided that the AGM in November will take the form of a Zoom meeting. You will receive details about how this will be arranged – The Journal, Buckets and Spades, which is normally published to coincide with this meeting will be available earlier so that all members, whether online or not will know what is happening. The deadline for items to be included in this edition is now the end of September.
Society Library and Librarian
Those of you who normally attend meetings will know that the Society has a library of books which can aid your research and/or the understanding of what you discover. For many years Brian Airey has been the Librarian as well as Secretary and would bring a selection of books to each meeting which complement the topic for the evening. He also would bring books from the collection for individual members to borrow who have chosen them from the list on the website. He is looking for a local member who would like to take over this role. The big advantage for anyone doing this is that they will have all the books at their own disposal.
Free on Findmypast
You can sign up for a free account on Findmypast which will give you free access to some selected items which includes
- If you have Welsh ancestors the National Library of Wales also has an impressive collection of Wills pre 1858 which can be accessed free of charge with images
- The turnaround on the £1.50 wills from the England and Wales Probate Service is now very short and they continue to provide sometimes surprising but interesting information.
As I seem to have very few close DNA matches with trees I have spent some time recently trying to complete some of their sparse trees to see if I could identify where the link was and was interested in my reaction to what I was finding. On one of the trees where I did find a common surname - but not an actual link – I discovered that someone in that family was currently serving a prison sentence for assault. Whereas any evidence of criminality in the past has been ponced upon with glee I felt very differently about this finding. It really does seem that distance lends enchantment….. You have to be ready to accept whatever you might find when researching.
Sins as Red as Scarlet
If any of you have ancestors who lived in Devon in the 17th Century or even if you haven’t, you will find much to enjoy and ponder over in Janet Few’s latest book, Sins as Red as Scarlet, set in Bideford or Byddeforde. The comparison between the community - as it was then and as it is today – is compelling. As you read it you become aware of the immense amount of research and thought which has gone into every little event. The parts set in the Free Help Sessions for Family and Local History in the local Library will be very familiar. Janet has spoken several times to our Society but for those have not met her you can read more about her here
It has been encouraging to see that the Facebook Group continues to grow and that it has been instrumental in breaking down some brick walls and as a result has been able to welcome some new society members.
Graham continues adding transcriptions to the web site and if you haven’t looked at them recently you will see that the number of photographs of memorials in each parish continues to group – these also have transcriptions of the memorials which are extremely helpful.
The photographs of each place continue to grow but there is still space for more and I am sure that some of you may be able to comment on the photographs – for example – Who ran the Tea Garden at Bleadon? Who was home for Christmas in Worle during WW1? Many parishes are without photographs – perhaps you have some?
If you have any queries the Research Forum is waiting for your questions and surely someone has some suggestions for the query I put on a week ago on behalf of another member about Creating a Family Tree. As we cannot meet up please make use of the web site.