Wendy Stugess's introduction to the goals and nature of the group, which includes a family story telling component, was followed by an absorbing hour or so in which each person shared their understanding of their family history developed to date. We were so impressed with the things people have already achieved. This included work undertaken to develop family trees, to search for missing relatives and to resolve other mysteries, often over quite long periods of time. We heard tales of travels to locate ancestors in cemeteries far away. People spoke of writing books including Marcus’s ‘Covid Project’ written for his children and Rupe’s goal of publishing the book he has written about his Cheetham forebears. We were fascinated by Wendy Webster's Early Winton Settlers project. We listened in awe as Marg described the efforts she has made to find her mother, and more. A goal setting and skills analysis work sheet was then completed to provide further feedback to convenors about goals, strengths, and learning needs.
After the break Bev introduced the Family Research page on the U3A website, using her family history blog to share ‘My Roman Nose’, her story for February’s writing topic ‘Family Traits’. A fascinating collection of stories followed, with traits including having an identifiable laugh; fair skin prone to sunburn and desperate efforts to tan; the vertical challenge of being of Cornish descent; persistence and a sense of humour; distinctive dark eyes and hair; a love of gardening, a nursing career and an enduring passion for trains, and more. The role of DNA results in confirming family legends of links to people in far off lands was explored.
At the end of the session Wendy presented a folder she has prepared showing a time sequence of illustrations of costumes over 200 years, explaining that it may prove useful in identifying unnamed people in old photographs. We look forward to bringing along old photos to compare with the illustrations in Wendy’s folder during the year.
Members who weren’t able to attend in February will be able to introduce their family history quest and share family trait stories next month.
Our March writing topic is ‘Family Treasure’ - The brief - Write a story of 150 to 400 words (or prepare an ‘show and tell’ presentation) about a family treasure you are finding, or will find, it hard to let go of. If possible bring it along. Explain its importance to you and where it fits in your family tree, perhaps using a genogram to help you to do so. (It doesn’t have to be an expensive treasure – it can be as humble as your great- grandmother’s recipe book or teapot.)
Finally, some housekeeping – please remember to bring your own coffee mug and to let us know if you will be attending for numbers and room set up by calling or messaging Wendy Sturgess on 0403226649 or Bev Lee on 0478607838.
Wendy Sturgess and Bev Lee