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Welcome to the July 2014 Edition of the FFHS Ezine                                                          No 47

Society Spotlight: Essex Society for Family History

Dig for the Past, Look to the Future

The Illustrated First World War Archive Website

Letter to an Unknown Soldier

War Memorials of Soldiers of the Anglo-Zulu War

Imperial War Museum Re-opens

WDYTYA? Scotland

This Month's Book Giveaways

The Geffrye Museum

The Almshouse Association

Sources in the Medieval to Early Modern Periods

Heritage Open Day

TNA Discovery Catalogue

Free Websites Update


Book Reviews

Diary Dates

Advertise with us

Competition Winners

Society Spotlight


The Essex Society for Family History


Essex Society for Family History LogoThe Essex Society for Family History was formed in 1974 and celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.  The society currently has over 1800 members worldwide and aims to promote and encourage the public study of British family history, genealogy, heraldry and local history with particular reference to Essex and to promote the preservation and accessibility of archival material by offering the following:

  • Three copies a year of the Society magazine "The Essex Family Historian" available in printed or electronic format.
  • Planning and hosting international conferences. There are still places for our conference in Basildon this August. For details and how to book please see below.
  • We undertake searches of Essex records through our online shop where you can also purchase items through our secure server.
  • Members have free online access via our new website to our databases of Essex PRs and Monumental Inscriptions.
  • We have a Research Centre at our Chelmsford HQ which is located in the Essex Record Office search room. It provides free access for our members to the "findmypast.co.uk" website and general and specialist advice on research.
  • Membership of all our local branches in Colchester, Harlow, Saffron Walden and Southend on Sea as well as at our headquarters in Chelmsford with the opportunity to meet others with similar interests and share knowledge and experience in a friendly atmosphere.
  • Up to seven talks a month in the county at local branches and Chelmsford.
  • An online Essex Gazetteer which enables members to find that elusive place in Essex.
  • An online archive of back issues of the Essex Family Historian from the first issue in 1974.
  • Articles and talks on family history to community and retirement groups.
  • Local outreach activities in libraries, schools & community centres etc and national family history events.
  • Financially supporting history students with projects on a discretionary basis. 

If you have ancestors from Essex or would like to know more about the society and its activities, or perhaps join our active membership, please visit our new website which has lots of information to help you.

Dig for the Past, Look to the Future
Essex Society for Family History is holding a History Weekend and Conference, from Friday 29 August to Sunday 31 August 2014. This will celebrate the 40th anniversaries of both the FFHS and Essex Society for Family History, the 25th anniversary of the East Anglian Group and also commemorate the start of the Great War.  An exciting programme of at least two streams of talks and 16 speakers have been booked.  For further information or to book, please contact Heather Feather by email: events@esfh.org.uk or download a booking form from the website.

The Illustrated First World War Archive Website
When it first appeared in 1842, The Illustrated London News, revolutionised journalism. The world's first fully illustrated weekly newspaper allowed readers to not only read about British and world events but to actually see them. From war and disasters to politics and the arts, its artists provided a vivid view of the people, places and events that, until then, most of its readers could only imagine. Today, ILN – now a customer engagement agency – is the custodian of the iconic Illustrated London News archive. This extensive collection brings together ‘The Great Eight’ illustrated magazines from the era, including The Sphere, The Tatler and The Bystander.

Earlier this year, ILN successfully applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant to build a public access website, designed to allow users to search our entire digital First World War archives.  Now, with our website due to launch on 4 August 2014, we are looking for website testers to provide feedback pre- and post-launch, to ensure that the website we build lives up to the high standards set by The Illustrated London News 172 years ago.  So whether your interest is the trench cartoons of Bruce Bairnsfather, researching a raid on your hometown, or finding a relative in a roll of honour, these fascinating archives have something for everyone – and you can help us make sure our content is available to all.  For more information on how to help with this wonderful new project please click here.

By Andrew Small, Project Director, ILN ltd

Letter to an Unknown Soldier Statue of soldier at Paddington Station by Dom Agius copyright
‘Letter to an Unknown Soldier’, is a new kind of war memorial, made only of words and by thousands of people. The memorial is being created by Neil Bartlett and Kate Pullinger, inspired by the statue on Platform One of Paddington Station, which features a statue of an ordinary soldier in battle dress, reading a letter. Everyone is invited to stop, think, and write him a letter. What would you say to the soldier if you were writing to him now?  The website is open now to receive letters. From 28 June and up until 4 August 2014, all letters received will be published online. They will be featured alongside letters written by writers like Stephen Fry, Andrew Motion, Sheila Hancock and Malorie Blackman. The entire collection will be archived online at The British Library and kept in perpetuity for generations to come.  Find out more on the website, via twitter and facebook.

War Memorials of Soldiers of the Anglo-Zulu War
Memorial plaque of Edward Flint who died at Isandlwana 1879Tim Needham would like the help of Ezine readers: “Having an interest in the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879, I am currently in the process of trying to locate & record any memorial inscriptions or plaques which relate to the death of a soldier during this campaign, in particular those killed in action at the battle of Isandlwana (or 'Isandula' as it was known).  Although over 1300 British and Colonial troops died here, there is not much information on where they individually came from and therefore where a memorial or memorial inscription might exist.  I have managed to find a few with the help of a handful of local Family History Societies and cemetery 'Friends' groups who have searchable transcriptions of gravestones, and I believe there may be many more 'undiscovered' examples in cemeteries and churchyards around the country.  As many such gravestones are slowly eroding and will before long be illegible, I hope to record as many of them as possible before they are lost.  Can you help?  If anyone has any information which may be of interest, I would be extremely interested to hear from them.”  You can contact Tim via email and see some previous photos on the Zulu War Talk forum.

Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum (London) re-opens on 19 July 2014 with new galleries and exhibitions.  Visitors will be able to visit the ground-breaking First World War Galleries which tell the story of the First World War – how it started, why it continued and its global impact – through the lives of those who experienced it.  There is a major new art exhibition Truth & Memory: British Art of the First World War which features powerful artworks by some of Britain’s most significant First World War artists. Permanent exhibitions will also be re-opening including:  The Lord Ashcroft Gallery, The Holocaust Exhibition and the family exhibition Horrible Histories®: Spies. Please visit the website for further information.

WDYTYA? ScotlandWDYTYA? Scotland Logo
Tickets are now on sale for WDYTYA? Scotland to be held between 29 to 31 August 2014 at the SEC Glasgow.  Nicky Campbell  will be attending the show.  Nicky was the subject of a 2007 episode of Who Do You Think You Are? when he looked into the history of his adoptive family and is currently one of the presenters of ITV's 'Long Lost Family' with Davina McCall.  As such, he is more than qualified to come to the show and share his views on the joys and pitfalls of researching your family history.  There will be workshops run by the Society of Genealogists over three days of the show offering a full and varied programme of talks for all levels of family historian.

The FFHS will be on Stand E39, why not come along and say hello? Our volunteers and representatives from the Scottish Association of Family History Societies will be on hand to help and assist you. We have two tickets to give away.  To enter this draw, send an email to competitions@ffhs.org.uk with ‘WDYTYA’ in the subject line before 31 July 2014.

This Month's Book Giveaways

Major & Mrs Holt's Definitive Battlefield Guide Book Cover


Having celebrated the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy last month we are offering Major & Mrs Holt’s Definitive Battlefield Guide to D-Day and the Normandy Landing Beaches.  To enter the draw for this book, kindly donated by Pen & Sword, please send an email with ‘D-Day’ in the subject line to competitions@ffhs.org.uk before 8 August 2014. You can purchase a copy of the book from the Pen & Sword website.


Our second book giveaway is ‘The Second World War at Sea in Photographs  1939’, by Phil Carradice. In the first of a series of books, naval expert Phil Carradice takes the reader through the war at sea in 1939 using previously unpublished and rare images of the battles, the ships and the people involved. To enter the draw for this book, kindly donated by Amberley Publishing, please send an email with ‘1939’ in the subject line to competitions@ffhs.org.uk before 8 August 2014.  You can purchase a copy of the book from the Amberley website.

The Second World War at Sea in Photographs book cover

The Geffrye Museum
Geffrye MuseumSituated in beautiful 18th century buildings and gardens in Hoxton, East London, The Geffrye Museum, explores the home from 1600 to the present day.  Focusing on the urban middle-classes, particularly in London, these homes are shown through a series of period living rooms and gardens which reflect changes in society, behaviour, style and taste. This year, two major milestones are being celebrated; it is 100 years since the museum first opened and 300 years since the almshouses, in which it is located, were built to house London’s poor and elderly. To celebrate, there is a full programme of exhibitions and events for all ages, including tours of the almshouses.  These were built in 1714 by the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers, with funds bequeathed by Sir Robert Geffrye, former Lord Mayor of London and Master of the Company and comprised of fourteen houses, each with four rooms, providing retirement homes for up to 56 pensioners. For details of opening times, current exhibitions and tours please visit the website.

The Almshouse Association Almshouses
Almshouses trace their history back to monastic times where the terms bedehouse, hospital, maison dieu, almshouse and others described the provision of accommodation for those in need.  The first recorded almshouse was founded by King Athelstan in York in the 10th century and the oldest still in existence is thought to be the Hospital of St. Oswald in Worcester which dates from circa 990.  By the middle of 1500s, there were about 800 mediaeval hospitals spread across the country but following the dissolution of the monasteries, only a handful remained and these were re-founded on secular lines and rebuilt in the new domestic collegiate style.   Almshouses are typified by the traditional three sided square that provides a sense of safety and security without isolating residents from the outside world.  For details of ‘Almshouse Chapels - A Fascinating Guide to A Rich Architectural Heritage’, by Canon Dr Raymond Bayley, please visit the website.  This book is published by the Almshouse Association, a support charity representing 1,700 independent almshouse charities throughout the United Kingdom, providing homes for over 35,000 people.

Sources in the Medieval to Early Modern Periods - Bookings close on July 20 2014
The Guild of One Name Studies is holding a one day seminar on 2nd August 2014 in Pudsey, Yorkshire, to discover records from 1274 which many may not have explored before. Surname specialist George Redmonds opens the seminar covering early name rich sources including Manorial Records, York Archbishopric Cause Papers and Early Immigrant papers, some newly indexed, providing the potential to extend your knowledge of early surname distribution throughout the country. For further details and booking form please visit the website.   This event has been granted sponsorship under the FFHS Sponsorship Grant Programme in honour of the FFHS 40th Anniversary.  To see the full programme of sponsored events and details of other events we will be attending later this year please visit the FFHS website.

Heritage Open Day
Have you ever wanted to view some original church registers? As part of Heritage Open Days in September, there will be an opportunity to view some original church registers in Lincolnshire.  St. Firmin’s, Thurlby, which dates back to 925AD along with St John’s Church, Baston and St Michael’s, Langtoft, will have their original registers dating back to the 16th century available for family history research.  St. Firmin’s also has a collection of over 900 photos, of the village and its people.  You can find further details about: Thurlby, St. Firmins and Lincs Heritage.  You can find an open day near you by going to the Heritage Open Days website.

TNA Discovery Catalogue
The National Archive LogoThe National Archives (TNA) has released an expanded version of its online Discovery catalogue. A further 10 million record descriptions have been added, bringing the grand total to 32 million items. Details from sources such as Access to Archives and the Manorial Documents Register are now included in a single searchable database. 22 million of the references in the catalogue are from TNA itself, with 9 million of these being available for download.  A number of changes have been made to the ways in which you can explore what Discovery has to offer. The current set up is not the final version. You can supply TNA with feedback by using one of its options for sending comments, questions and suggestions about Discovery and other aspects of TNA’s services.

Free Websites UpdateFFHS Logo
We have just updated our list of free websites that help family historians with interests in the British Isles. Some of them also contain material relating to other parts of the world and they all charge the same price – nothing!  So whether you hope to recover a missing branch of your family tree or want to find out more about a particular person, ancestral village or a type of record, this list is for you. Each entry includes a summary of what the site focuses on and a link to help you discover more.

Thank you to everyone who has entered the competition in ‘our Australasian really useful information leaflet’ and submitted a story about their First World War ancestor. Judging will be underway shortly and coverage of the winners will be included in the September issue of our Ezine.


Why not take a look at ‘The British Newspaper Archive’ blog. It features articles as diverse as that about a 13-year-old schoolboy, Arthur Edward Jeune ‘James’ Collins, also known by the initials A. E. J. Collins, who scored an incredible 628 not out in June 1899 during a cricket match that took place over four days at Clifton College in Bristol to coverage of an accident caused by an elephant which was featured in the Aberdeen Evening Express on Tuesday 03 July 1883!  You can find these and other interesting stories on the website.


The FFHS Ezine has a current readership of approximately 14,000 worldwide. To discuss sponsorship or advertising, please email Samantha Bourne Ezine Editor

Book Reviews

To read reviews of recently published books of interest to family historians

visit our Book Review Page

Ezine Competitions and Winners

All competitions are subject to our Terms & Conditions as published on our website

A full list of Ezine competition winners can be seen on the FFHS website

view competition winners

Diary Dates

For a list of events visit our Events Page on our website and GENEVA

Buckinghamshire FHS Open Day, Aylesbury, Bucks, 26 July 2014
West Midlands Group of Family History Societies, The Midlands Family History Fair, Worcester, Worcs, 9 August 2014
Cumbria FHS Family History Day Fair, Kendal, Cumbria 30 August 2014
Leicestershire & Rutland FHS 40th Anniversary Fair, Oadby, Leics, 20 September 2014
Dyfed FHS Open Day, Clynderwen, Pembs, 20 September 2014