CAPE TOWN FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY
Report to the annual general meeting on 21st march 2009
It has been a busy year with some notable progress in the affairs of the Society. Our membership had grown considerably in spite of a few resignations and drop-outs. The library has become a hub of activity during meetings and the recently introduced “help desk” has proved a useful asset. It is disappointing that we ended the year with a deficit but this was due to one-off expenditures incurred when we moved to our new venue, which has enabled up to accommodate more people.
The introduction of the Beginners’ Workshops has attracted much interest and will hopefully also increase out membership.
The committee met five times during the course of the year but all members were also involved in other responsibilities for the Society and I thank them most sincerely for all the effort they have put into making this a society to which it is interesting and useful to belong.
Lucille le Roux has ensured that our meetings are advertised in all the local press each month. A recent contact said she had noted this and thought it was an indication of the efficiency of the organisation. In addition, I gave several talks to other societies and organisations during the course of the year on our activities and on family history in general. We were also present at an Exhibition in the library at Goodwood and the Genealogical Association’s Open Day in Paarl.
David Slingsby has ensured that we have had a very interesting speaker at our general meetings. Our member Derek Pratt attracted a good turnout when he talked about St. Paul’s Church, Rodebosch, in April. The well-known shipping columnist Brian Ingpen talked about ships and shipping in the Cape in May. Another member Sigi Howes talked about the author Iris Vaughan in June. In July we had rich pickings indeed as three members told us about their experiences researching family history. Jawn Goosen, David Slingsby and Tony Allan went to great trouble to make their short pieces sparkle.
Beatrice Law, author of ‘Papenboom in Newlands” opened our eyes to places we thought we knew well in August.
September was of course out usual Annual Exhibition to coincide with Heritage Month. This year was better than ever and we attracted a number of visitors. Member Ian Neilson captured our interest with a talk on DNA in October. An interesting talk illustrated by outstanding photographs was given by Viv James in November. He followed the foot steps of his father who accompanied Shackleton’s expedition to Antarctica.
In January we were entertained by John Vogler who talked about his forty years’ research into his family and writing up the material. We finished off the year triumphantly with Peter Slingsby talking about the book he is shortly to publish on botanist T P Stokoe. We had a whole new range of visitors to this talk as botanists were also interested.
The number of visitors to out general meetings has doubled since the previous year.
These meetings are organized for the members and we encourage members to let the committee know what topics they would like to cover in the following year.
Visits to places of interest
In the middle of year we had a most rewarding morning at Groote Schuur. As well as touring the mansion to admire the antiques and art works we were also treated to a delicious tea. In December we visited the Rubbi Chapel and the Imhoff Farm in Noordhoek and enjoyed an excellent Christmas lunch.
The committee was concerned that we had a number of new members just beginning their research and felt they probably needed more help to get going than we were currently providing. It was therefore decided to start a “helpdesk” to give advice before and after the meetings and to run a beginners’ workshop consisting of four sessions. St. Paul’s Church Hall was engaged as a venue and the course advertised. We received nearly 80 applicants and as no more than 15 are accepted for the course, these workshops will be running until the end of this year at least! Thanks to members Lorna White and Heather MacAllister whose expertise has enriched some sessions. In addition we have engaged a couple of new faces, Jean Blanckenberg and Heather Lewis to ensure that the participants gain a thorough grounding in research.
Thanks to generous donors the contents of our library has increased quite rapidly. The large collection of genealogical magazines is a very useful source of information and education. Cynthia Winstanly has done an excellent job in encouraging the use of this resource.
Tony Allan has continued to make our website more and more interesting and increasing numbers of people are using it. We now have a sponsor to whom we are most grateful as he hosts our website at no cost. We receive a number of requests from overseas for assistance in looking up or providing information and we would really like some volunteers to take on some of these requests.
Four newsletters were produced and distributed during the course of the year. We have managed to contain costs by distributing the newsletter at meetings and only post those that are not collected. The committee decided that the format should be changed to make it more viable to email it.
Thanks to all those who have submitted articles and stories, which have added interest to the contents.
I have edited it for 3 years and hope that a new editor will emerge to give it new life.
I think that an indication of the maturing of our Society is that this year we already have a slate of nominations for the committee that will carry on the task of governing our affairs. I have enjoyed my stint as chairman but hand over its responsibilities happily to a new incumbent.
I would like to add a few words of tribute to Tom Blackwood-Murray, a long-standing member of the Society and also a past member of the committee who was instrumental in seeing that our website was initiated. Tom passed away most unexpectedly on Thursday evening and our committee extends our deepest sympathy to his family. Tom was one of the participants in the recent workshop and those of us present will remember his enthusiasm and enjoyment.
21 March 2009