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Somerset & Dorset
Family History Society

SDFHS 40th Anniversary

GT Aug 15 front coverWe are celebrating our 40th Anniversary in 2015, reflected in the content of the latest edition of The Greenwood Tree, as summarised by the Editor, Bob Barber.

40 years on, and to mark the occasion this anniversary edition of The Greenwood Tree has 40 pages. As well as lots of original articles, news and regular features, there are several pieces looking at the early days of the Society, and musings on the enormous changes that have taken place in the pursuit of family history. I would like to thank all those ‘venerable’ members who responded to my call for contributions.

There are memories of the early days from three former editors of The Greenwood Tree: Roger Guttridge (Editor: 1980-81) with Pages from the Past (p.72), Colin Dean (1994-2005) …remembers his time…(p.82) and Chris Storrar (2005-12), author of our regular feature Looking back on The Greenwood Tree, also looks back on her time as editor (p.90).

MervynAs you will see from Sir Mervyn Medlycott’s article How it all began (p.67), the Society was formally launched in Yeovil in September 1975. This followed a canvass for interest in the Genealogists’ Magazine, and a similar appeal in Somerset & Dorset Notes & Queries (volume 30, 1975, p.113, see right).

This year’s AGM and Open Day will be held in Yeovil, very appropriately since that was where the Society was launched 40 years ago. There has been a change of venue since the preliminary announcement so check the details on our website or on the flier in the August edition.

Among the original articles from members is one by Viv Bennett who describes her role in the British Red Cross project to digitise over 244,000 Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) personnel index cards. The database can be searched at www.redcross.org.uk/ww1 . Some well-known people can be found including Agatha Christie and Vera Brittain (author of Testament of Youth). See Granny in a new light is on p.71.


Red Cross nurses at Ashcombe House Red Cross Hospital, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. Copyright and with thanks to British Red Cross Museum and Archives.


SamplerJohn Glyde’s interest in genealogy dates from the 1970s, stimulated by a family Bible and a sampler inherited by his father. Family holidays in Somerset sparked a growing interest which has led to visits to record offices and use of the internet, as well as attendance at meetings organised by the SDFHS. The sampler was made by a distant relative, Martha Fowler Glyde, in 1818 when a child of 12. It tells the sad story of four members of the family who died within a short space of time; three were buried on the same day. Read about Martha Fowler Glyde’s sampler on p. 79.


Lorna Knight responded to some recent articles about West Stour in Dorset with a marvellous photograph of the 1911 Coronation celebrations in the village. Lorna has managed to find names for many of the people in the photograph, including members of her own family. See p.88 for more details.

West Stour

West Stour – the 1911 Coronation.

GT CDIn May we announced the plan to make available for sale a complete set of 40 years of The Greenwood Tree, in digital format, as PDF files. It will help to mark the Society’s 40th anniversary in 2015, and we hope will raise funds for the Society. The formal release will coincide with the Open Day and AGM in Yeovil on Saturday 19 September, when copies on either CD or USB flash drive (memory stick) will be available. The project has required the scanning of over 120 editions from paper copies in the Society archives in Sherborne, with the remainder supplied as digital copies by our printers. Most versions of Acrobat Reader (freely available to download to your computer) allow both viewing and browsing of the pages, and the ability to search for text. The files are also viewable on devices like iPads and Kindles.

If the Society is to continue for anything like another 40 years, the encouragement and support of the members are essential. So, to paraphrase, “…ask not what your Society can do for you, ask what you can do for your Society.” This support is particularly needed by a journal editor. A number of other society journals have struggled recently to get enough copy to fill their pages. So go on, put pen to paper, and write something for The Greenwood Tree. Family skeletons particularly welcome.


Cartoon by ‘3865’. Published with the index to volume 9 of ‘The Greenwood Tree’.

Bob Barber, Editor


Member and Guest Blogs Welcome

We welcome guest and member blog posts on any topic with a family history connection and invite you to send your contributions, which should include photo/photos, to the editor Barbara Elsmore