New Family History Club with a difference

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07 May 2021
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Finding connections to the Titanic, a bishop in the United States and even Ringo Starr, students at the North Liverpool Academy family history club have been making enviable family history discoveries. Helen Tovey catches up with Jacob to find out more

Despite being in existence for less than a year, the North Liverpool Academy family history club has seen its members make discoveries that many long-standing family historians would wish were on their family trees. 

The club was established as a summer school in 2020 by genealogist at the Academy Ian Mooney, during the brief window between Covid lockdowns, and a considerable number of current year 7 students took up the challenge to trace their family trees.

One such student was Jacob, age 11, who, over the past 10 months has traced an extensive family tree back to 1712, including connections to a Prussian sailor and soldier, and Bishop Joseph Bernard Cotter, who established a school in Winona, Minnesota.

Later this month Jacob will be giving an online presentation to the students of Cotter School about his family member, Bishop Cotter, the founder of the school.

Here Helen Tovey, editor of Family Tree, catches up with Jacob, a key contributor to the school's family history club to learn more about his family history discoveries.

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The club meets once a week and students undertake research in their own time too, interviewing relations, asking about memories, gathering stories and photographs too where possible. The club has a very collaborative vibe, and club mentor Mr Mooney says that the students all take an interest in one another's discoveries. Jacob was keen to speak about his friend Jack's impressive connection to Ringo Starr, for instance. Meanwhile fellow student Adam has researched a family history of 270 people stretching back to 1726, and fellow student Carly is busy researching the family tree of the Academy's Principal. Mr Mooney has been bowled over by how many discoveries the students have made and how talented they are at seeking out family history clues and stories. He says, 'I am immensely proud of all the students in the club.'

Jacob also has wise advice for anyone wishing to begin tracing their family tree: "I would say start with who you know, with who's alive, maybe your great-grandmother or even your grandmother. You can ask them if they have information and build up on that."

There will be further coverage of the genealogy work of the North Liverpool Academy family history club in the July issue of Family Tree (out 11 June), in which we look forward to sharing examples of Jacob's and some of the other students' family history discoveries. 

Keen to start your family history? Find a range of getting started useful information online here