Monday, 26 November 2007


The above words by Marianne van der Merwe, summarised the Branch's mini-exhibition of genealogical work on Saturday, 17 November 2007. Marianne was one of the guests at this event.

To a certain extent the day lead to a new era for the branch. More such days will be held
to meet the needs of members. Members and friends of the branch have expressed the wish to learn how to transform their information into a readable and usable format.

Twenty-five people attended. It was less than was expected. The guess is that some members were slightly apprehensive to share their work with others. It was interesting to note that, although more visitors attended than was the case with ordinary branch meetings, less members were present.

Above: Penny Evans and Bob Saunders have a look at some of Penny's work. Penny stayed much later than she had initially intended.

The exhibition included various family registers, completed and partly completed family history books, demonstrations on computers of family slide shows and genealogical data capturing programmes, filing systems and much more.

The variety of implementation methods indeed underscored the words of Frank Sinatra's song: "I did it my way".

Right: Nita du Plessis and Noreen Surmon look at the latter's hand written family history book.

It was these different "ways" that intrigued people.

That really was the intention of the day -- to see how others record their genealogical records and to get tips and ideas.

One guest that drew attention was Noreen Surmon (86). She is a genealogist and historian of note. She implemented her vast knowledge of South African history to the compilation of two comprehensive books on the history of the Surmons. Much of it is hand written -- proving that genealogy does not necessarily have to be done on computer.

Left: Margaret Humphries explained to Myra Bosch her filing system. She said she spent many hours on filing and can lay her hands on any information of any family member at any time.

One idea that some found interesting was that of Margaret Deacon, a visitor. She is novice in genealogy. One of the first things she did was to collect DNA samples of her family. To do this, she merely put a hair and a saliva swab of the family member in a sealed plastic bag and froze it.

"The role of DNA in genealogy is increasing. In time to come it could be of major importance in family research. Obviously it may later be useful for other purposes as well -- who knows," she said.

Many discussions were held about computer programmes. It was clear that people wanted know what is available and were curious and keen to know "how did you do that".

Right: Frans Viljoen and a visitor, Margaret Deacon in a discussion.

To summarise his experiences, Bob Saunders, a committee member, wrote as follows:

"Today's meeting was a good one, despite the lack of support from so many of our regulars and the branch in general.

"I think those of us who had the luxury of milling about and looking at what was presented today, probably learnt a whole lot more than we actually realise. I was so impressed with the two tomes that formed the family saga of Noreen Surmon. The work oozes an aura of its own personality purely and simply because it was put together with loving hands, and breathes the history in a mixture of free form prose and structured pieces interwoven with frozen moments in time, and artwork and illustration, captioned phographs and anecdotes, quotations and the like. Mixed media and illustration (be it the pictures and photographs or the artwork) made all the difference I think."

Left: Louise Dick, Marianne van der Merwe and Lucas Rinken, views a slide show of "Die Losieshuis van 33 en 33A Ameshoffstraat, Braamfontein, Johannesburg", a history of the boarding house of Japie Bosch's parents in the 1950's.

"I think Penny Evans got more than she hoped for in terms of help and advice. I think she enjoyed looking at what others had done, as she shared with me, initially, that she didn't think she would spend too much time at the meeting, and then, eventually, ended
up being there all afternoon.

"So for a dry run we must have done something right and something good.

"Japie Bosch of course kept on telling me, " Watter oulike idees" I have got. "Wel ou maat, watter oulike idees het jy nie mee vorendag gekom nie. The photo montage of the Bosch family home of your youth, and the movie clips of your sister - are to say the least, inspiring. I don't believe a single person was not inspired by what you have done.

"So those w
ho did not pitch today, are the poorer for it. Until the next one, I hope we get some feedback from those who did attend today."

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