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).
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).
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?