CAPE TOWN FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY
Report to the annual general meeting on 15 march 2008
I hope that members will agree with me that our Society has had a reasonably successful year. We are now entering our 7 year of existence, having started off in March 2002 with ten members. As we have seen from Lucille’s report which she has just presented, our membership has grown considerably since then, now numbering over 70. A number of people have joined for short periods over the years and have dropped away for one reason or another but all seem to have found their membership rewarding for the time that they were members.
Reading through the minutes of those first few meetings and particularly a paper prepared by Heather MacAllister, one of the founding members, I see there are a number of items that we have not yet tackled and the new committee will, I hope, study these and choose some of them to implement.
We set ourselves quite limited goals last year and I’m pleased to say that we have made progress on these, on which I will report later.
The committee met five times during the course of the year. Email makes it possible to attend to matters in the interim periods. David Slingsby was appointed as vice-chairman and programme convener; Tom Blackwood-Murray handled the projects portfolio; Cheryl Leslie continued as secretary and tea convener; Lucille le Roux as treasurer and public relations and I was newsletter editor in addition to being in the chair. Tony Allen was appointed as an ex-officio member of the committee as web-master.
I want to thank the members of the committee for their enthusiasm and support which made my task that much easier. I’m very sorry that we will be losing Cheryl and Tom in the coming year but look forward to new faces on the committee.
Once again Lucille has done an excellent job of keeping our programme in the public eye by ensuring that adverts have appeared in all the major newspapers and the community papers. Thank you Lucille! She has also built up a large list of visitors contact details and advises them of meetings, which they much appreciate.
Our website also ensures that our existence is known to internet users and we have many visitors to the site. As far as is possible, we have tried to answer queries and point people in the right direction.
We had a table at an exhibition organized by the GSSA in Paarl on Heritage Day in September. It was unfortunately not very well attended by the public but it gave me the opportunity to get to know members of GSSA and other organisations interested in family history.
A Forum for Sharing
David Slingsby arranged an interesting and varied programme of talks and workshops during the year. Johan Louw spoke about medals and his research into the provenance of a set of medals in his collection in April. Members had the opportunity to discuss their medals with him. In May, Dr. Helen Robinson held us all enthralled by her tale of an investigation she undertook to find a missing heir. The Scottish clan Duncan and DNA research was tackled by Jimmy Duncan in July and attracted a record number of visitors. Carmen ter Brug introduced us to Scrapbooking in August. We had a most successful Heritage Exhibtion in the hall at St. Paul’s Church in September. Micheil Armstrong talked about Heraldry in October and clarified a lot of its mysteries for us. Johan Maree from UCT gave us a very valuable talk on the preservation of documents in November.. In February Kammie Kamedien, one of the editors of the recently published book “Bibliographies of Bondage” introduced us to the contents of the book and was very pleased to have sold 5 copies at the meeting!
We have had a record number of visitors attending meetings and have been complimented on the interesting variety of topics. David would like our members to put forward ideas for topics and speakers for the coming year to ensure that we are responding to what members need.
I’m sure all our members join me in thanking David for his excellent work during the year. We also need to thank Tony Edwards for booking and setting up the venue for us. We are grateful to Wynberg Boys’ High School for allowing us to use their staffroom for all these years for our general meetings. However, the committee decided that the venue was becoming rather cramped and have booked the hall at St. John’s Church, Wynberg for the coming year.
The June meeting was a workshop on surnames and their origins facilitated by myself. January was a workshop on putting all your research together again facilitated by myself.
Visits to Places of Interest
We did not have a meeting in December but 26 members and their guests attended a Christmas lunch at Groot Constantia, preceded by a guided tour of the museum, introduced to us by curator Thiys van der Merwe.
Four issues of the newsletter were circulated to members. There were some very interesting articles and stories by members and I thank them very sincerely for keeping me supplied with interesting material, which makes the job of editing most rewarding.
Show and Tell Table
An innovation this year was to have a table on which members could display interesting objects, heirlooms and work they had done on their family history. We had some extremely interesting items shown to us and I’m sure that a number of people were encouraged to dig out their old heirlooms and find out more about them.
The library was most competently managed by Cynthia Winstanly and has been used regularly by members. We have purchased a number of books during the year and have also had some books of great value and interest donated to us. Particular thanks are due to Hazel Hofmeyr for the large number of books donated from her late husband’s library. To all of those who have given books or have suggested good titles to buy, we are truly grateful.
One of our most exciting advances during the year was the setting up of our website www.family-history.co.za . Tom was determined to get this done and was lucky enough to have the expertise and enthusiasm of Tony Allen to launch it. Tony is a very keen and conscientious web-master and regularly adds new and exciting material to the site. Selected articles from the newsletter are published on the site, giving a wider audience for our members’ work. Many people have contacted us for advice on researching Cape Town families. It has been a most rewarding step forward.
Preservation of Members’ Work
One of the reasons for establishing the website was to assist with the preservation of members’ work. We are still getting to grips with the best way to go about this.
Visits to Places of Historic Interest
The committee is keen to organize some visits in the coming year but need indications from members in order to make some choices.
The website has enabled us to publish what material we have on what records are available at which churches. Anne Smythe prepared the list from material collected by members so thank you very much Anne for helping us make this step forward. We will add in new information as members assemble it.
I hope that members will agree that the committee has provided an interesting and varied programme, has handled the finances of the Society in a responsible manner and has taken steps to make the public more aware of the society. I trust that we will be able to elect an active committee today that will continue to help the Society flourish.
15 March 2008