Family History

Please note change to meeting times.

The Family History Group normally meets on the 4th Monday of each month in The Hayloft, Giltbrook between 11.00 am – 12.30 pm.  The contacts for the group are Diana Pidgeon on 0115 9169343 or Julie Matthews on 0115 9389758.

We are a small, friendly group of people who share an interest in family history. Members include both those new to tracing their roots and others who are more experienced. The aim of the group is to help each other make progress with their research and to share successes and pitfalls.  Sessions are based around a general theme, to encourage group discussion and sharing and we hope everyone has something to contribute. We also prioritize helping those new to research with assistance to start to build their own trees.

New members are always welcome.

Please note the change of venue from January 2023. We now meet in The Hayloft, Giltbrook NG16 2GB.

Next meeting – February 27th 2023 –  Census and other similar records (1939 register, Kelly’s directory, voters lists). For this session, if possible, please could members bring examples of any of the above from their own records so that we can compare what information each one contains and their usefulness in research.

Also we shall start to share ‘our interesting ancestor’ when at each meeting a couple of members will share someone from their research.


Last meetings:     In January we were made welcome by the Hayloft as our new venue. We looked at Poor Law and The Workhouse, discussing how the law changed and conditions experienced by the inmates. We had a good turn out of members so next time we shall use a larger area in the building.

Monday 28th November – members enjoyed a general discussion on a wide range of research topics and ended the year with a challenging ‘Christmas Quiz’ set by Julie. We left trying to find out what ‘toilet powder’ was back during WW1.

Meeting -24th October – ‘Deaths and Diseases’.Members looked at death certificates and their usefulness within research, particularly in relation to the identity of the informant. We looked at how to obtain the certificates and the pdf copies. We also looked at old terminology for reasons for death and compared overall reasons at different times in history – all punctuated with personal stories from our research.

September 26th 2022 -‘What Happened to the Children?’  This was a well-attended meeting with several new members who had joined us recently. We had an open discussion based around where to look for ancestors when their records are not easily located – such as for orphaned children and adults who ‘disappear’. We highlighted the importance of exploring the wider family as children sometimes went to distant relations and ‘assumed’ their surnames whilst they lived there; also the verbal interpretation of names due to illiteracy; the inaccurate recollection of ages and various websites that are good to use.

In June 2022 we discussed Uniforms across the ages, mostly military but also Police and St John’s Ambulance and the difficulties we had in identifying these from old photographs. As always, members drew on their own histories to illustrate their contributions and many interesting stories were shared.

In February we looked at dating old photographs and various ways to do this, from identifying studio photographs from the photographers years of trading, to scrutinizing fashion choices especially in women and identifying why a photograph may have been taken at that time. We looked at a variety of prints provided by members, including an album and printed book showing family images. We were also shown a list of photographers in a specific area found on the internet.

Previous Zoom meetings:

July saw the first meeting and six people took part. We each talked about one of our ancestors and why we found them particularly interesting.

In August we were reduced to four attendees. We each shared something we had inherited and items included medals and hat badges, photos and book, a very old jigsaw and an electric shock machine.

In September we were six in total and we looked at old photographs, some of which had really interesting stories behind them. Although not the same as face to face meetings we agreed to keep pressing on with Zoom.

In October seven members shared certificates, such as birth, marriage and death, and the stories behind them. These included old marriage licences, death certificates and where information contained in them may have been inaccurate.

In November we shared letters, postcards and inscribed books that gave insight into our past. These included a family bible, postcards used as greetings cards and a variety of personal and formal letters.

In December we shared more photographs, discussing what we knew about them and further avenues for research. We looked at dating photos by the fashions of the day and the use of newspaper archives for adding to life stories.

In January 2021 we shared stories about the occupations we had come across in our research. Many had a nautical theme including the detailed life of a sailor on a submarine, a ship caulkin involved in boat building, a fish auctioneer and the sad tale of a boatman whose son drowned at Langley Lock. We heard about the manufacture of pearl buttons and then about tortoiseshell combs and finished with some unusual jobs such as a ‘fear nothing maker’ and ‘feather purifier’.

In February we welcomed one of our members who joined us for his first Zoom call, making eight participants in total. We shared some interesting stories about the fortunes of our ancestors, some of whom became quite wealthy and others who had misfortunes in life.

Six members attended our March Zoom meeting when we heard about some of our criminal ancestors and the severity with which they were punished. This included transportation and a hanging at Derby Jail. One case led us to learn more about the local mine workers pension fund and the 1926 strike.  We also shared some interesting news around free websites and u3a seminars.

In March five members shared an open discussion about their research and how in some cases it had become somewhat impossible to get back beyond the late 1700’s with any degree of certainty, due to a lack of records.

In May we discussed a variety of wills and legal documents and helped one member to understand a reported court case. Thanks to those who attended.

In June members share their research into properties that were of significance to them. It was surprising how much detail we could find from memories, maps, censuses etc to piece together stories of homes and farms from our past.

Our only face-to-face meeting of 2020 took place in January.   At this meeting Bill gave us a presentation on Old Eastwood and district based around his wonderful collection of local photographs. These included pictures directly linked to his ancestry as well as images found on old postcards of the area. We saw many photographs taking us back to the early twentieth century (and before) as well as some from subsequent decades. We saw the condition of the roads in those days, the beginnings of the trams in Eastwood and subsequent trolley buses.  We learned a lot about the many collieries in the area, the train lines and stations associated with them and saw the homes of the wealthy pit owners. We identified buildings remaining and many which have been lost including churches, shops and places of entertainment.  Many thanks to Bill for this interesting session, which entertained and informed us all.

Family History Archive 2019 | Eastwood and District u3a (

Family History Archive 2018 | Eastwood and District u3a (