Society Spotlight: The death of a family history society


In this, the second of my history society themed blog posts, I take a look at a society that helped me significantly with my research, until one day the silence fell.

Some history societies were born out of an individual’s love of an interest (perhaps a particular industry, or geographical place), and grow until it becomes all consuming for the founder. This leaves the society and its precious work at risk of dying with its founder (as we heard yesterday from Linda McCauley).

Cross Family History Society

Silence

Back in the late 1990s, I was in contact with a Pam McClymont from Australia. She was the sole worker behind The Cross Family History Society, and she had amassed a vast amount of information about the surname and its journey to Australia from its home in Ely, Cambridgeshire.

Her research enabled me to point me towards answers for vast parts of my own Cross family tree (making it easier to verify the data from the UK too). She didn’t have email, or a website, and I don’t think she had a computer either, as she would mail me vast amounts of paperwork covered in her handwritten notes, and even a self-published ‘Who’s Who’ guide (this was typed).

Who's Who Cross Family Vol 1 - Pamela McClymont

Who’s Who Cross Family Vol 1 – Pamela McClymont

Suddenly the correspondence stopped. I wondered whether my letters back to her had been lost in the mail, but I found out just under a year later via another researcher who was more local to her, that the reason for her silence was because she had died.

It now makes me wonder whether I hold her most up-to-date research, and what percentage of her work, and whether I have a duty to perform by making it available in some way – perhaps find a way to obtain permission to create Volume Two, perhaps create it as an eBook to help reach a new audience?

What should I do?

Have you been a member of a family history society that ended abruptly? What happened next? Did the society’s trove of information make it into safety, or has it been lost forever?

Leave your comments, thoughts, and experiences in the space below, or join in the discussion over at LinkedIn, and perhaps you can help save another one from an untimely end.

Come back tomorrow where we look at the first of the three questions posed to the Societies – What is the Society’s biggest need?

About Andrew Martin

+Andrew Martin is owner and lead writer for History Repeating and Family Tree UK. Genealogist, historian, writer, photographer and would-be archaeologist. He'd love a time machine, but worries that it might take all the fun out of it.
This entry was posted in Cross, History Societies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Society Spotlight: The death of a family history society

  1. I had a similar experience – a huge list of names of my Jelbert family was handed to me this summer, a product of a one-name society which folded after its organiser passed away. Hastily scanned in…. Here’s my blog about it http://bit.ly/sb1305

  2. Mike Baldwin says:

    Are there any copies of the Cross Family History? or could it be scanned and available on line?

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