A look back at the Cambridgeshire Family History Fair, which took place on October 25th 2014 at Girton, Cambridge.
Yesterday saw the second Cambridgeshire Family History Fair take place – a free genealogy and local history event held in Girton’s Glebe School on the north side of Cambridge.
This year’s fair seemed much busier than last year, and although it seemed that there were fewer talks (one room, rather than two), this didn’t seem to affect the hustle and bustle in the main exhibition hall.
I went along for the whole day (10am-4pm), as I had my eye on 3 of the 4 expert talks, and also had a few genealogy hurdles that I wanted to try to resolve with the Suffolk Family History Society and the Norfolk Family History Society. I also hoped to bump into the postcard stall that I’d seen at last year’s fair… as I had a specific card to find.
Mike Petty MBE: Resources for Researching Cambridgeshire
My first talk of the day was the first time that I had attended a talk by Mike Petty MBE.
His fifty years of collectively working with the likes of The Cambridgeshire Collection, the Cambridgeshire Association for Local History (for which he is currently President), writing a weekly column for the Cambridge News, and being a seasoned lecturer and author for all things Cambridgeshire, has earned him an unrivalled knowledge of the history of the county, and the resources available to research it.
Mike admitted he’s not a genealogist – he’s a historian. This actually makes him a perfect speaker to genealogists, as his talk showed a full room how to get beyond the basics of censuses and BMDs, by digging out the more interesting information about Cambridgeshire that is tucked away in newspapers, in photographs, maps, and books.
As the audience were quickly scribbling down notes, Mike continued to show how to use online indexes to help make your next visit to a Cambridgeshire archives resource more time efficient. He spoke passionately about the vast card indexes that hold so many clues to resources, but which are themselves tucked away due to space limitations.
I’ll definitely make more effort to attend his talks in future – I feel like he could have talked for hours.
With a break between talks, I set myself off to see if I could find the Desira Postcards stall that I visited last year, and where I had bought one of two postcards of my Cross family’s bakery shop on Forehill, Ely.
Thankfully, the postcard I saw last year was still within their collection, so (ignoring the £8.50 price tag) I bought it, as it’s an example of how Frederick Thompson Cross was advertising his business. He died in 1911, after which his son Frederick Vernon Cross took over.
Carl Warner: Crowdsourcing History at IWM Duxford
Having enjoyed the collaborative crowdsourcing Lives Of The First World War project that IWM launched earlier this year, I was keen to see what Carl Warner (Imperial War Museum Duxford’s Research and Information Manager) was going to tell us about their Second World War project: American Air Museum.
This time, Carl explained that IWM has just launched a new website containing around 15,000 photographs of the USAAF, and that members of the public can register and then add their own, whilst also discuss other images – in a hope to bring names to faces and places, and record the memories of those who remember the presence of American Airmen in Cambridgeshire during WWII.
My own Grandmother remembers the American airmen near Mepal, Cambridgeshire, and like many of her generation, it’s pretty much a story about eating ‘candy’ given to them. Little could she understand then as a child, that when she waved them off as they flew away, that many would never return.
Kathy Chater: How To Write Up Family History
Ex-BBC Researcher, turned professional genealogist, historian and author, Kathy Chater was my third and final expert speaker to listen in to. Her career background, like that of Richard Benson, would give me the impetus and expert advice I need to decide on how best to write up some of my own family history stories beyond the realms of this blog, and a characterless list of names and dates.
Kathy’s advice on breaking down your mountain of research into chunks and focussing on telling each piece of one person’s life at a time, certainly felt to me like a much easier approach. She then suggested that you could then weave a few of these into a story – trying to bring in national, international, social and family events to flesh out the stories and set your ancestor into context.
I’ve certainly been looking at how national and world events may have impacted on my relatives – looking at trends in silk and cotton weaving, the impact of the railways, enclosure acts, Cambridgeshire drainage acts, and of course the horror of wars.
Like Mike Petty, Kathy recommended turning to newspapers – not just the stories, but the adverts and reviews too – all which would help you to understand the world in which your relatives lived.
It was refreshing to hear Kathy give a shot of reality with her comments on being realistic about the publishing of the book – recommending that you should probably just stick to publishing it yourself within your family, and not a publisher. She amplified a message that I’ve heard regularly – file a copy of your book with relevant archives and organisations.
Recharged with enthusiasm to get stuck in to what was the 5th of my 5 New Year Genealogy Resolutions for 2014, I hope to at least be able to decide whether I’m going to aim for a novelised or non-fiction approach.
Another great genealogy fair!
I’d like to say thank you to all of the speakers that I saw, and also to the hard work of the Cambridgeshire Family History Society team who organised the event. It’s great to see this growing, and I look forward to next year’s event.
The Cambridgeshire Family History Society has confirmed the guest speakers for this year’s Cambridgeshire Family History Fair.
A series of announcements via their Facebook Page, have revealed the following experts will be talking at the Fair on 25th October 2014.
Author, and former BBC researcher, Kathy Chater will be talking about how to turn your family history research into a story.
Author, well-known local historian, and President of the Cambridgeshire Association for Local History, Mike PettyMBE will be talking about the resources available to you when researching your Cambridgeshire ancestors.
Social historian Tom Doig returns, this time to talk about identifying dates of Edwardian photographs and postcards.
Carl Warner, Research and Information Manager at the Imperial War Museum Duxford, will be explaining how you can use the Museum’s vast image library to research and share your story.
The Fair returns to Girton Glebe Primary School, in Girton, on the North-west side of Cambridge. Parking and entry is free, and doors are open 10am-4pm.
Cambridge plays host to another Family History Fair on Saturday 25th October 2014.
The Cambridgeshire Family History Society has announced its Family History Fair is to return on 25th October 2014, after the success of last year’s event.
Girton Glebe Primary School plays host once again to a day’s worth of family history – with free admission and parking. Last year’s event saw a mixture of stands from Cambridgeshire, but also from neighbouring counties and genealogy and history organisations covering the local area.
A series of lectures will be announced nearer the time – I particularly enjoyed last year’s one on dating photographs by Tom Doig.
Blogging from The Cambridgeshire Family History Society Fair 2013, held in Girton (North Cambridge) on 26th October 2013.
Last Saturday I attended The Cambridgeshire Family History Society Fair.
I think this was the first time that the Fair had taken place, and I was really impressed to see the variety of lectures and stands.
The venue – Girton Glebe School was easy to find and there was plenty of parking for those out-of-towners like me, and with bus stops for those more local. I had a strange flashback of my own primary school, when I found myself sitting on a small red plastic chair in one of the classrooms (although it seemed odd to be doing so whilst drinking a cup of tea).
I didn’t get to take many photos, as the venue was smaller and felt more condensed than other shows I’ve been to, so instead, check out these great photos from the Society’s Facebook Page.
Above: The Cambridgeshire Family History Society stand stood in the entrance with a warm welcome for all visitors. I picked up a couple of cdroms of the Society’s register transcriptions (non-conformists – which have already yielded some great info, and a Quarter Sessions transcript – which i’m yet to explore).
At the stand in the photograph above, I was lucky to find two postcards from Ely – both showing the shop that my Cross family owned and ran in Forehill (I recently referred to it in my blog and newspaper article about the Brown and Co (Ely) Ltd Shop). I chose one (£6!) and I’ve now added it to my collection. Part of me wishes I’d also bought the other one (£8.50!) as it was more of an advertisement card.
I was fortunate to get to talk with the Huntingdonshire Family History Society, at their stand, where they kindly looked up my Franks family. Sadly we couldn’t quite find them, but it seems that the parish that absorbed the now near-abandoned Coppingford village, may have retained the records. One day…. ONE DAY!
I found it a little odd for there to be no Suffolk Family History Society, given that they represent the neighbouring county. I overheard a couple of others talking about this too.
I was pleased to catch social historian (and self-confessed non-family-historian) Tom Doig‘s lecture on identifying Victorian photographs. His approach to this topic sounded odd to start with when he stated that you should never try to date photographs via the clothing seen in the photo. He shared with us his knowledge of the history of photography itself (something that I once studied with the Open University) – and explained the importance of looking at the style of the frames and mounts, and also the composition of a photograph as a method of dating it.
Freshly plied with data CDs, a monumental inscription joke from Carol Noble on the CFHS stall, my Cross postcard, and Tom’s advice on photography, I returned home and instantly began searching through my records and photos again.
An enjoyable time, and one that I hope to repeat again soon.
The Cambridgeshire Family History Society (CFHS) has revealed more details about their event in October 2013 – including free entry!
Following on from last week’s teaser, the details for the 2013 Cambridgeshire Family History Society Fair have been confirmed.
The Cambridgeshire Family History Society has confirmed on their Facebook Page that the event will take place at Girton Glebe Primary School, in the north of Cambridge on October 26, 2013, from 10am to 4pm. That’s six whole hours of genealogy to be had – meeting exhibitors and enthusiasts, and the great thing is that entry to the event is free!
There will also be a programme of expert lectures (which are charged at £2 per head, per lecture), and the details of these will be confirmed in due course. There will also be a free internet research room, run by the Society’s researchers.
In 2012, the Huntingdonshire Family History Society ran The Big Family History Fair which they confirmed would not be repeated this year.
Whilst this event isn’t on the same scale as those such as Who Do You Think You Are? Live or RootsTech, it will no doubt be an essential day out for anyone with genealogy and local history interests in Cambridgeshire and surrounding area.
There will be free parking on site, and the Citi 6 bus, which runs to and from the city centre every 20 minutes, stops near to the venue.