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Grave Research

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Stapleford and District U3A has pioneered a local history research project documenting the names and personal details of every grave in the old part of the town’s Cemetery.

What started as a personal undertaking by two family members researching their family tree, grew into a Shared Learning Project involving around 18 U3A members. The team spent five months this year transcribing and documenting every detail of the headstones in the cemetery which dates back to 1884. This included using different research techniques to fill in the missing details which had been weathered away over time.

It is now planned that the project will be documented in a spreadsheet, a booklet and made available to local organisations including the local studies library, Archive office, History Society and University. It will also be made available on the internet.

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Stapleford U3A member Janet Cross said, “After drawing up a plan of the cemetery my sister-in-law and I realised what a large undertaking it was and that we needed some help. The Family History co-ordinator and the U3A was only too pleased to offer their support.

"Over 560 headstones were transcribed with 1100 individual names. It felt a real honour to be given a window into the lives of those people buried there.

"For example, one man who had died in France in WW1 was anonymous because you could barely read any of his headstone except his date of death. I had to do lots of research into other names on the headstone to fill in the details including looking at census and war records. Eventually I pieced together who he was by a process of elimination and where in France he was buried.

"Another headstone showed a married couple aged 74 and 76 died on the same day and year.

"By making this vital information available on the internet, not only will family, friends and locals have access to it but family researchers elsewhere. We would really encourage other U3As to look at doing something similar as it has provided a service to our local community and beyond."