The Cape Town Family History Society
The Cape Town Family History Society was established in 2002 by a group of family genealogists who felt an awareness to promote and encourage the recording of family history. The inaugural meeting held in July 2002 was preceded by a document to establish contact at school level, to assist interested persons by drawing up basic forms on which a family tree could be established and to assist in places such as the Cape Archives.
A chairman and secretary were duly elected and the Society was formed. In those early days the meetings were held in a member’s home and their own family histories were discussed with advice and encouragement given
A constitution followed and soon the venue could not cope, the society moved its meetings to the staffroom at Wynberg Boys School.
The aims of the Society embedded in the Constitution are;
- To create an awareness of the study of family history among the people in the Cape Town area and those whose ancestors lived in this area.
- To encourage the collection and preservation of family history resources.
- To be a forum for the sharing of family histories through the use of invited speakers, outings to useful family history sites and through the sharing members themselves.
- To assist in the transcribing of historical documents of genealogical interest to enable easier access to these documents for members, as well as the general public.
The society has grown since 2002 with a membership of nine to membership today of in excess of hundred and twenty members some of whom are resident overseas. The Wynberg School venue proved inadequate and a larger venue at St John’s Church Hall has been used for the past few years. Our average attendance at our monthly meetings is about 60.
At our formal monthly meetings, a speaker will address the society on a topic relating to family history or a related topic; it could be educational for example how to repair an old photograph or preserve a family document to a personal family historian describing a particular family. From time to time visits are arranged to interesting historical site in the local area. We have a ‘Show & Tell’ table to encourage our members to discuss briefly an interesting artefact or family document, while the help desk manned by a member of the society is always busy. Over the years a comprehensive library has been established which members can refer to or borrow books on a monthly basis. The meeting is followed by refreshments during which time members exchange experiences, encourage friends and receive inspiration for more research.
Family research is a rewarding hobby; our motto underlines the interest “There is no future without a past”. Some members enjoy building a ‘Family Tree’ collecting relatives and finding links to other family trees. Today this is made easier by the many computer programmes available where family’s can be listed, birth, marriages and deaths details established either by research on the internet, referring to listed publications or research at our local Archives and National Library to name a few.
Some family researchers follow a more biographical route embracing local historical events to embroider a family history. Those who are lucky enough to have old family photographs, family kept diaries or even notes taken whilst discussing family stories with elderly relatives usually follow this route.
Some family historians research medical problems, passed down from generation to generation in an effort to understand their condition and to take steps to prevent family defects being passed on to the following generations.
The new and exciting study of DNA has taken family history to a new level. Bloodlines can now be traced back for thousands of years and which in some cases could cause great excitement knowing you could be related (legally or otherwise) to some great founding father, a king, a ruler, a president or our famous personalities.
Cape Town Family Society actively promotes and assists those genuinely interested by holding regular training programmes. These programmes teach how to start your research, where to find the facts, how to collate them together and finally how to present them to the following generation who hopefully will appreciate all your efforts.
Our website is maintained on a daily bases all the latest news, forthcoming events and interesting articles are published. This site can be visited at www.family-history.co.za
For further information contact David Slingsby 021-7155104, Lucille Le Roux 021-7831854 or Ann Smythe 021-794 6225,
Chairperson David Slingsby with Prof. Van Der Ross one of our speakers whose family lived on farming ground in the Constantia Valley. Self sufficient farmers in part of the wine growing vineyards of Constantia who augmented their income by growing and selling flowers in Cape Town. The book relates the story of these families how they would walk from Constantia to Rondebosch and then to Cape Town.