IWM’s Lives Of The First World War website enters final year for submissions

The countdown begins for the closure of submissions to the IWM and FindMyPast’s digital WW1 memorial project.

Back in 2014, at the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show, I was excited to hear about a new project from the Imperial War Museum and FindMyPast.

The project, to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of The Great War, would breathe life back into all those brave men and women who served in the First World War by allowing the public to add details to their records.

Lives of WW1 talk at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014
Lives of WW1 talk at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014, at Olympia, London.

This enabled those long lists of rank, surnames, and service number to start seeing information about their births, their photographs, and their life stories being added.

I have added photographs and information to several of my relatives, and one relative (a distant cousin) Frederick Vernon Cross even made it as one of the people on the home page.

Frederick Vernon Cross on home page of livesofthefirstworldwar website
Frederick Vernon Cross (left) features on the home page. He survived, and went on to found what eventually became Ely Museum.

This week, an email came through to announce that the project is entering the final year of the first phase, and that there is just one year left to add more valuable accompanying information, with submissions ending on 18th March 2019.

After this date, the site will become a permanent digital memorial to those brave people who served in a terrible war, for us to remember and research for the future.

Lives of the First World War screenshot
I’ve added my great grandfather to Lives Of The First World War.

I still have a few relatives to find on the site, but this reminder will set me on the path to correct that. I suggest you do the same.

Happy Researching,

Andrew

 

 

Cambridgeshire Family History Fair 2014

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.

The Main Hall at the Cambridgeshire Family History Fair 2014.
The main Exhibition Hall at the Cambridgeshire Family History Fair 2014.

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.

Postcard hunting

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.

Advertising postcard for Frederick Thompson Cross' tea rooms on Forehill, Ely, prior to 1911.
Advertising postcard for Frederick Thompson Cross’ tea rooms on Forehill, Ely, prior to 1911.

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.

IWM American Air Museum
The IWM American Air Museum website has launched.

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.

Exhibitors at The Cambridgeshire Family History Fair 2014.
Exhibitors at The Cambridgeshire Family History Fair 2014.

In the meantime, The Big Family History Fair organised by the Huntingdonshire Family History Society returns in May 2015.

Expert speakers revealed for 2014 Cambridgeshire Family History Fair

Cambridgeshire Family History Society logoThe 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 Petty MBE 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.

For the latest information about the event, and to find out about the Society, take a look at their website.

A view of some of the trade stands at the Cambridgeshire Family History Society Fair, 2013
A view of some of the trade stands at the Cambridgeshire Family History Society Fair, 2013

I went to last year’s Fair History Fair, and really enjoyed it – attending Tom Doig’s lecture, and picked up a few special priced bargains.

See you there!

Andrew

Day Two: Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014

Day Two of the 2014 Who Do You Think You Are? Live show at London’s Olympia.

After a late night at the annual FindMyPast dinner, i creaked out of bed and headed across a beautifully sunny (but assuringly still Winter) Hyde Park for the second of three days at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014. I’m quite enjoying this ‘commute’!

Sunshine beams into Olympia for day two.
Sunshine beams into Olympia for day two.

I got to Olympia just a few minutes after opening, but there was no queue. A small queue remained at the cloakroom and the workshop ticket desk, but both were fast moving.

I went straight into my pre-planned session with Cassie Mercer from Inside History magazine, on ‘How to get your ancestor’s names in print’.

Her talk covered how to approach family history for magazines and newspapers, how to pitch to editors, and how to get writing.

She highlighted that when writing, you should always think about the reader. The audience. Who are they? Will they want to read this? She also advised that when writing an article, you should start with your best anecdote, and end on one too.

Do mention the War

After Cassie’s talk finished, I then spent time exploring the stands over in the new Military History section on the upper floor.

Audrey Collins at The National Archives stand at Who Do a You Think You Are? Live 2014
Audrey Collins talks ‘Discovery’ at The National Archives stand at Who Do a You Think You Are? Live 2014

Here I found The National Archives (with Audrey Collins talking about on-site ‘Discovery’), and the exciting looking Lives Of WW1 from the Imperial War Museum.

Lives of WW1 talk at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014
Lives of WW1 talk at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014

I was fortunate to attend the Keynote from Lives Of The First World War with Melanie Donnelly and Luke Smith, expertly compared by Else Churchill and her roaming mics. They were able to explain the initial test conducted in 2011 on Flickr, and the subsequent development of the project to the now, 2-day old, showcased product.

It’s yet to be publicly launched – they quoted May 2014. It certainly looks like a great resource for creating what is essentially a memorial Facebook-style profile of people who lived and died in the First World War, complete with photos, audio, video, documents, stories, and community.

Eric Knowles at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014
Eric Knowles at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2014

Was pleased to spot the legendary Eric Knowles again, deep in conversation with a hopeful heirloom keeper.

I’m now off for a ‘tweet up’ at the Hand and Flower pub opposite the event venue…. so I best leave that out of today’s blog post!!