Ancestry a boon for Wyong Family History Group
A recent upsurge in interest in tracing family history has proved a boon for Wyong Family History Group.
Formed in 1983 by two people at a meeting in a kitchen the organisation now boasts more than 300 members and growing rapidly.
A recent beginners course conducted at the centre attracted a capacity class of 21, most of whom quickly signed up as new members.
Course coordinator, Trish McDonald, has been running the classes for several years and said interest in tracing family history had never been higher.
"It's important to stress though that we are only here to help people with resources and advice to search for their ancestors," she said.
"We don't undertake the research ourselves but we do have a wonderful array of resources that can pretty much help anyone find any ancestor anywhere in the world."
For her part, Mrs McDonald said she had personally discovered through research that an ancestor on her mother's side was a knight of William the Conqueror who came to England during the Norman Invasion of 1066.
His name, Rudolph de la Pomeroi (now Pomeroy) is inscribed upon the Doomsday Plaque with other knights.
"He was eventually given lands in Cornwall and Devon and to find all that out through research here in Wyong was absolutely fascinating." Mrs McDonald said.
Another member discovered her ancestor was a slave who bore a son on the island of Saint Helena when Napoleon was imprisoned there.
Resources at Wyong Family History Group are many and varied. Their library consists of more than 3000 books, magazine, journals, CD Roms, microfilm, microfishe and reader/printers.
They also have subscription sites such as Ancestry.com, Find My Past and Roots Ireland.
Group president Kerrie Metcalfe said members spanned all age groups but more and more retired people with extra time on their hands were joining.
She said they were constantly amazed at the information they could gather by using the resources at the centre.
"It is reasonable to expect that with English records alone those tracing their history will at least get back to the 16th Century," she said.
Wyong Family History Group is located in 'The Cottage' at Wyong Community Cultural Centre, 6 Rankens Court, Wyong.
Workshops are held on the third Saturday of each month between 9am and noon at Tuggerah Library where several members are present to assist.
Resource and research assistance at The Cottage is available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 10am and 3pm and at other times by appointment.
For members it is free while for non members an hourly fee is charged.
New members are welcome.