Family History

The Family History Group 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 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.

Please be aware that there is a limit on the number of members that can be accommodated and therefore you may be invited to join our waiting list. When a place becomes available you will then be contacted to see if you are still interested or when there are sufficient people we will look to start a second group.

Next meeting Monday 22nd July- Home Front WW1 and WW2  lives of those at home, evacuees, food, work etc

Future Meetings:

22nd July- Home Front WW1 and WW2  lives of those at home, evacuees, food, work etc

26th August – No meeting Bank Holiday

23rd September -Recording family history.

28th October – Births, Marriages and Deaths inc registration and rituals

25th November – Religion, churches, beliefs; Politics

December- No meeting


Last meetings:  

In June we looked at censuses and how to read them. We looked at the differences between them and also Irish and Scottish records. We discussed the 1939 register and availability of the 1921 census. Some members told stories of their ancestors as illustrated through their census returns.

At the March meeting a small group of us looked at old photographs, jewellery and memorabilia within our discussion about changes in fashion and how our ancestors status was reflected in their appearance.

In February we shared stories and photos of our oldest relations who we knew personally.

In January we looked at the history of surnames and members shared where they thought names in their families came from.

In November we discussed old pastimes, and how our ancestors spent their leisure time. Members shared stories from their past and that of previous generations backed by photographs, press cuttings and artefacts. Another great session.

In October our theme of heroes and villains led to some interesting stories of ancestors who were heroes through wartime experiences and service. It was interesting to hear of their lives, often illustrated by photographs and other memorabilia. Villains were harder to find although our ancestors may have found themselves harshly punished by the law for offences that these days would be considered trivial. We briefly discussed the civil war and how to find out which side our ancestors may have been on.

In September we learned about education in the UK and one member shared extracts from a school log book which showed how hard school life was for some. This prompted further discussion around early schools, child labour, our own schooling experiences and those of a teacher. Thank you to everyone for your contributions.

In July we shared stories about our personal heirlooms and members were treated to viewing a wide variety of objects including books, letters, ornaments, trophies and badges and a swagger stick.

In May we looked at old occupations and started out with a light hearted group exercise trying to work out what old definitions of jobs were.  We also thought of jobs that no longer exist. Some members then shared information about their own ancestors and the jobs they did, including shopkeepers, policemen and apprenticeship records. It was an interesting session.

In April 2023 our group again filled our venue as we discussed the movement of our ancestors both within the UK and internationally. We heard one members research into his ancestor who was transported and the detail of his journey and sickness on route to Australia, and subsequent life. We also heard about ancestors who criss-crossed England to live and work and wondered how they managed to take all their chattels with them.

 In March 2023 we looked at finding our ancestors graves, headstones and cemetery records. Members shared some interesting stories and examples of their family gravestones with the group.

Another well attended meeting in February saw us welcoming four new members and looking at British censuses across the years and how the information might aid our research. We discussed the newly released 1921 census and the 1939 register as these are likely to be the last releases during our lifetimes.

In January 2023 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, including some new faces, so next time we shall use a larger area in the building.

Monday 28th November 2022- 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 2022- ‘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.

Family History Archive 2019 | Eastwood and District u3a (

Family History Archive 2018 | Eastwood and District u3a (