Northumberland and Durham Family History Society, north Northumberland group

WHAT’S NEW?: Members of the Northumberland and Durham Family History Society’s north Northumberland group looked at what’s new in family history at their meeting at Bell View Resource Centre, Belford.

New resources mentioned included the free two-hour taster sessions at Scotland’s People Centre in Edinburgh, Apprenticeship records and US Passport Applications on the Ancestry website, the Durham Wills website and the Genealogy in Time magazine online-newsletter. The facilities at the society’s new headquarters, Percy House in Newcastle, were praised highly.

One of our members told of her recent visit to Suffolk which provided the latest chapter in the story of the mariner ancestor whose vessel, the James and Eleanor, was wrecked in 1895.

The ship’s wheel has survived and been traced to the Sailors’ Reading Room in Southwold, Suffolk, which is well worth a visit for its fascinating collection of marine memorabilia.

The ship is commemorated on a special commemorative mug for the Alfred Corrie Lifeboat which rescued survivors of the James and Eleanor shipwreck.

The research also uncovered through an online newspaper archive that this ancestor had been awarded a silver medal for Gallantry at Sea for his part in an earlier rescue of a British vessel off Calais. Now begins the search for this long-lost medal.

Members shared their experiences of the advantages and disadvantages of using the internet for family history research compared with consulting original records at County Record Offices.

Also discussed were different ways of obtaining information on old photographs such as details of photographic studios.

There are several helpful books and websites on how to date old photographs. More information on these will be available at the next meeting.

The next meeting will take place on Saturday, October 15, when members will share their own experiences of research, including those of a professional genealogist, an ancestor’s account book from the Fenton Estate, the use of documents revealing fascinating details of the Battle of Flodden in 1513 and more on old photographs.

Visitors and new members are most welcome.