Chairman's Report - Annual Gathering October 2009
by Ian Sewell
This year’s Annual General Meeting was held at the Rose and Crown in Ridgemont.
A few of us had trouble finding the place but I think that had more to do with a few new roundabout that were not on the maps than anything else. Teas and coffees were warmly welcomed by all from a quite versatile machine in one corner. I then gave a brief introduction to the day before everyone went into their specific name groups.
The actual AGM then followed where I gave a brief overview of the society for the last year, including the introduction of associate committee members. Bob Solly, the treasurer summarised our financial position, which I will say is good given the current membership and Bob Sheldon gave a view of the societies current membership. Overall the society has lost a large number a members over the last year but I feel that this was only to be expected once the surge from the TV program “Who do you think you are?” came to an end. All genealogical societies are suffering with a reduced membership from this but with our membership as it stands we are still in a good position.
Over the last year or so the committee has be re-drafting the constitution of the society. Whilst not the most important thing the society can be doing, it is important to keep these things up to date. The current constitution was the same one created when the society was formed and some areas were out of date. A copy was provided to all members present for their inspection on arrival and I am glad to say that the new updated constitution was accepted unanimously. The floor was then opened up for any other business and a lively discussion was had regarding the society and the AGM’s. I would like to thank all those that took part and be assured that the committee listened to what was said and will take appropriate action where required.
One subject I would like to take up now though was the updating and re-issuing of the Society’s data CD with respect to the family trees on it. These trees are of course some years out of date now as more research has been completed and information gathered. However to re-print all the societies trees would be a very large undertaking given the number and size of many of them. Also the benefit would be limited. Anyone who is directly linked to one of our trees has the latest information given to them via the surname co-ordinators so they are fully up to date.
After a discussion at the committee meeting it was decided that we will investigate the feasibility of producing a list of names from our records with basic information which can be placed on our web site. This will allow people to make links if possible and to then request the relevant tree from the surname co-ordinator. Diane has volunteered to be the guinea pig for a trial of this, so look out for a list of all Sewells from Greater London in the near future.
One other point raised by a couple of members was the society’s position on computer programs. As many of you will be aware many the committee use the program Generations to store the society’s information. However this program is no longer being improved and the current version is getting old and a number of problems exist in the software when it runs on Windows XP and Vista. Whilst these problems are not serious they can be annoying but as yet they do not stop us using it. However one of the reasons we use this software is its ease of use and the great reporting that it provides of all the data. At the moment the only large scale supported genealogical software is “Family Tree Maker” which historically had poorer reporting than Generations. However this has improved considerably over the last few editions. The main problem is that the time and effort needed to transfer all the society’s data from one program to another. The issues with Generations really do not warrant that effort at the moment, so we are sticking with Generations but are monitoring the situation very carefully and will update you upon any change.
Following lunch that was enjoyed by all, with some of us taking the opportunity to sit in the sun, Dr Gillian Gear gave a talk on workhouses. After some initial problems with the sunlight spoiling the view we were able to get things sorted so that the talk could commence with everyone able to see her pictures. Though centred primarily on the work house in Barnet the talk described many of the common features of the workhouses that would be applicable to all of them in any part of the country. I know that I am once again going to have a look at the surviving records in Essex to see what information I can find.
I hope that everyone at the meeting enjoyed themselves and we look forward to seeing you all again next year.
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