RUSS FAMILY WORKSHOP Saturday 22 September 2001 High Wycombe

There were present: Gerry and Ron Fisher [Emily], Michael Harte [Edith], Jeremy Russ [Emil], Martin Ashby [Bertha], David Russell and Robin & Ruth Russell [Ernest], Brenda Russell & Carolyn Findell [Fred Valentine].

1.  Michael Harte (MH) acted as chairman for the morning; Carolyn Findell (CF) took a record of the proceedings.

2.  MH listed 3 objectives for continuing work on the family history:

            personal interest
            wider family interest
            for posterity as an aid to others in the field

3.  Gathering round The Family Tree, CF ran through a few mistakes, errors, omissions and additions to the paper version done June 2001l

a) Bertha married Frank WELCH not Welsh.

b) Emil's branch [now profusely apologised for]: due to misinformation, the children Betty and James are placed the wrong way round as James is the elder, born in 1909.  Due to this mix up at the last moment the sixth generation "Em 8” are in the wrong order, but all the groups “Em 1” to “Em 8” are the wrong way round as a result, anyway!

c).  Seventh generation, first child of "Ed 4" group ‑ Louis Preston REDLEY was born in 1991, not 1989.

d).  Sources: note IV ‑ Mater's Day Book: we now know that the handwriting in this wonderful document is not Mater's own hand.  MH and CF think that this record of the events immediately after Charles' death may have been written by her but that this copy has been done a little later, as a copy exercise by one of the children, but not Charles, the eldest son.  The clues are i) internal in the text and ii) numerous examples of Mater's handwriting on postcards.  (My hunch is that it is Percy's writing ‑ CF)

e) Ernest's branch has been 'found' and is now fully included in this project.  Ernest's youngest child, David, has been able to correct the thing that had always bothered CF ‑ Ernest changed his surname much later than sources had previously told us; he changed his name in 1920 and David has the original document.  Thus David was the only child to have actually been born a Russell rather than a Russ, but all the children had their surname changed at the same time.  Ernest died in 1971

f) Birth dates now known:
Charles' branch: the twins Nora & Connie were born on 2nd August 1910
Bertha's children: Margaret b.  9th June 1913 Christine b.  11th March 1915
Ernest's children:                
                        Alan b.  1907
                        Douglas b.  1911 d.  1981
                        Constance b.  1913 d.  1989
                        Richard b.  1916
                        Kathleen b.  1920
                        David b.  1927

All the information regarding further details & generations will now be put on the website entries.

g) Some CALLAWAY information has been found in the 1881 census: (by MH)
Henry Callaway born c.1826 (in Fordingbridge, Hants) his daughters Jessie born in 1862 (in St.  Pancras) and Alice probably born in 1867 (in St.  Pancras) - residing at 11 Woodfield Crescent, Paddington, London

4.  The Website was demonstrated and explained.  Underlying what now appears on the screen at is a comprehensive data base [in effect an extended card index] of information about  each person: basic facts – name, dates, spouse details, children, siblings, names and supporting notes – including quotes from any available source and anecdotes.  These are then converted by the software system to give the Family Group Sheets on the website,and can be navigated through by clicking on any blue underlined text, thus allowing people to follow up and down any branch of the family tree and to move across from one branch to another.
In addition, the site contains photos – now to be expanded considerably as a result of this meeting – and copies [typed or photo copied] of archive material of interest.

5.  a) MH & CF have begun to make a list of RUSS archives/resources that they know about, so that a common 'index' can be referred to by all family members.  It will contain a list of key documents, photos etc and will be available on the website; but the location of these precious RUSS items will not be published on the www, so as to safeguard these historical documents/collections etc.  Photos can be scanned on to the website to great effect and many of the 'finds' on Saturday 22nd were to be seen on the site by Sunday evening 23rd.  Two splendid finds were a photo of the elusive Albert (as a mature man), and one of the sadly short‑lived Lena.  Documents can be scanned onto the website, or typed versions scanned on to it.  Availability of this material over the internet should be particularly useful for overseas family members who may not be able to gather and exchange information as easily as U.K./G.B.  members can.

b) As a result of this report it is hoped that other members of the family will communicate what interests them, and if they are interested in researching something specific.  Jeremy Russ is keen to find out about his grandfather, Emil, especially his time in India, which probably means some research in the British Library Indian records.

c) MH has joined The Society of Genealogists and already found their resources useful.  (A copy of the 'Findell' Family Tree is now lodged with them for posterity!) There is also an Anglo‑German Family History Society ‑ is anyone interested in finding out how they may be able to help us?

d) Maintenance of researches:‑ MH made the point that it would be helpful to all if results are reported to the current co‑ordinator (i.e.  MH & the website database at present) even if NOTHING is found.  Each researcher should always make a physical note of what has been done and especially if nothing has been found ‑ it could save someone else the trouble in the future.  An example occurred on 22 September when MH related his search in the 1881 census records [available on CD-ROM via the Latter Day Saints] and his puzzlement at not being able to find Charles RUSS using the search by name tool available on the CD; so he went to the Society of Genealogists where they had software, allowing a search by location.  Finding Clifton Hill, he went through the records for the even numbers and then down the odd numbered side of the street.  His excitement rose steadily as he went 35, 33, 31 ,29 – and then with pulse positively racing to 27.  Bingo - the family was there but listed as REESS ‑ Carl/Charles' handwriting (assuming it were his) had been misread.  A bulb went off inCF's head as she had been told about this misspelling sometime in the last 6 months, but she cannot now find the reference or who it was that told her ~ but it would have helped MH had he known!

e) It is hoped that each branch or family will now be more aware of the significance of what archives they themselves hold.  Even things as mundane as receipts are of interest.  One branch has found all the receipts for setting up home on marriage in 1910 ‑ as social history they are fascinating, and such items can provide all sorts of unexpected clues.  RUSS documents, photos and artifacts have survived for up to 150 years so far, so if this project is to fulfil its objectives the care of the archives should concern all family members.  Conservation principles should be followed: paper items should be kept flat, or rolled if large, not folded, and preferably in the dark.  Photos should also be protected from light.  Materials used in the storage of items, albums, folders, boxes etc, should be made of acid‑free materials (i.e.  paper or card), and be of a neutral pH, (i.e.  see‑through pockets/sleeves should be polyester‑based, not standard plastic).  Just storing items between sheets of acid‑free tissue paper, especially for fabrics, is more appropriate than plastic covers, (plastic attracts dirt, in fact).  When acquiring such materials always ask for “conservation quality" or "museum grade" items.  3 companies which supply such items

FALKINER FINE PAPERS 76 Southampton Row, London WC1B 4AR Tel: 020 7831 1151 The above is a short walk from either Holborn underground station in one direction, or The British Museum.
SECOL Ltd 13‑16 Howlett Way, Thetford, Norfolk IP24 1HZ (by mail order) Tel: 01842 752341
CONSERVATION RESOURCES Ltd Units 1,2,& 4 Pony Road, Horspath Industrial Estate, Cowley, Oxford OX4 2RD (by mail order) Tel: 01865 747755

Further details of materials are on the Russ website

6.  Further research needed:
a) 70 New Bond Street:‑ one first question is whether the present no.  70 is the no.70 that we are interested in ‑ Consignia (The Post Office) can't tell us whether the numbers have changed(!), but at least the facade of the present no.70 is not quite ‘right' to a layman's eye.  Delving into Westminster Reference Library might be able to sort that riddle out.  Using the quote from Queen magazine as on page 11 of Dean King's book as a clue, CF has established that back copies of 'Queen' are not at the British Library, so they must be housed at the National Arts Library at the Victoria & Albert Museum, (but they were doing their annual 2 week stock‑take when CF had a chance to go so that has not been followed up yet).  Another key question is whether Charles Russ was officially 'By Royal Appointment', (as his cousin/nephew Richard Winkler was in Edinburgh), ‑ research in the archives at Skinners Hall, and the City Guilds, might answer that question and others.  The Freemasonry connection of Charles Russ is also worth exploring.

b) If the exact link between Charles Russ and the Winklers in Scotland could be clarified, and contact with the correct Winkler descendant made, maybe more information about the German heritage could be gained.

c) The 600 plus postcard collection of Helen (Nellie) C.  RUSS (nee BLISS), wife and widow of Frederick Valentine RUSS, is a unique resource.  Postcard collecting became all the rage from 1903 onwards and the first Russ postcard in the collection (from Sidney to Will), dates from 1904, although Nellie Bliss did not met any Russes until 1907.  So once Nellie's collecting became known, or when Nellie married Fred, it seems that Mater's, Fred's and Will's cards were given to her.  The bulk of the collection consists of cards sent to or from a Russ between the years 1903 and 1918 so the snippets of information and clues given are invaluable, really giving a better picture of family members ‑ it illustrates the social history of the time (referring to the backs of the postcards – never mind the fronts!) The collection contains examples of the handwriting of Mater, Emily, Edith, Sidney, Bertha, Ernest, Fred and Will.  CF now intends to transcribe each one and map persons and places, and then attempt to 'write it up' in a readable form, which then may or may not be suitable for the website – a major task ahead!

d) Ernest ‑ solved! Thanks to the wwweb, David, the youngest son of Ernest, and David's eldest son Robin and his wife Ruth, were able to join the gathering on 22nd September, they having only been 'found' just over a week previously!   Robin’s mother-in-law Eileen Fletcher had been searching the Web for information about her own family and – to pass an idle moment –looked for information on RUSSELL: her first hit was the Rus Family Website – she read the agenda for this meeting and e-mailed MH “Ernest solved!”.  David had raided the attic and come with so much memorabilia, information and anecdotes about Ernest; this will now all be reflected on the website, especially the photos.

e) Albert is still a mystery except that a photo of him as a mature man was found just prior to 22nd September, so that is now on the website.

f) Germany ‑ Are there members of the family who would be interested in delving into the RUSS German, and possibly Russian, roots?

g) Census data: a fuller search is needed of the available census material – MH will use the resources he has to look again through London and Edinburgh for 1881

h) Emanuel Charles Christian Russ – identified by Barney Russ as a possible ancestor in San Francisco in the 1840’s.  More details of him and his family have come to hand through another Web contact – but the vital link to Carl Christian Gottfried Russ is still missing - ? in Germany.  MH will pursue.

i) The current data base is quite comprehensive – but a lot more detail must be available, not least for the living.  MH suggested that the ideal would be to hold – for each individual – the following: full names; date & place of birth, date & place of marriage; date, cause & place of death.  Similar details for spouse [however defined], both sets of parents and children.  In addition, a clear indication of occupation, residence – but full details of the addresses of living members would not appear on the website, and any other information people think of relevance or interest – anecdotes, photos etc.

Also discussed was the extent of the data base: at present it concentrates on the straight blood line but there is no reason why it should not extend in other directions through marriages etc.  MH has already incorporated further branches of his own section – through his grandfather Percy [married Edith Russ] to branches of the Harte, Roberts and Cullen families in Ireland and the USA.  So, if anyone wants their own sections expanded, feel free to pass over the details.  MH will then put them in the data base and – at an appropriate moment – add the pages and links to the website.

j) Can old family photo albums provide any more location photos possibly each with an accompanying new comparative photo?

k) Mater's Day Book is another amazingly detailed and unique source of information.  Twenty photocopied pages are known on this side of the Atlantic, but more study would provide yet more of a picture of Charles Russ the businessman.

7.  This report, and the accompanying Family Group Sheets going to representative members of the family as known at present [and being placed on the website in full], is a start at making the members aware of what has followed since "the genie was let out of the bottle" on June 24th 2001.  Not all members will be interested in doing further research, but it is hoped that family members will look through what they have got 'in the attic' and forward information, pictures, lists and anecdotes for the website.  Some present members will not thrill to this chase now, but there will surely be children in all branches who will develop an interest in their family history at some point in the future.  Unfortunately we have the example of one Louie B.  Russ of Glasgow who died, an elderly lady, only within the last decade.  It is known that she was greatly interested in all family matters, but we know not where her papers and memories went.

8.  The possibility of a further publication – based solely on the family history – was briefly discussed.  A certain amount could be achieved simply from the central database – but it would not be very readable.  To go further could require a professional author and costs would rocket; ‘vanity publishing’ is reckoned to cost as much as a small car – and sales would inevitably be small.  So the idea remains ‘on the back burner’ for the moment.  However, a further biography of Patrick O’Brian is under consideration by Nikolai Tolstoy [step son], as he feels that Dean King’s biography is not only extensively wrong but also does less than justice to its subject.

9.  The report of the meeting will be circulated to all on the current distribution list by post or through e-mail; it will also be avaliable on the website.

10.  Points 8 & 9 raised the inevitable subject of costs.  It is hoped that all branches of the family will fund their own contributions and thereby all will contribute to the cost of the whole.  But if the question of a fund becomes necessary then this can be discussed at a future date. 

The session closed with an extended ‘show and tell’ session based on the artifacts that had been brought to the meeting.  Key was the postcard collection and the material from David Russell.  Finally – many thank to Gerry and Ron Fisher for their generous hospitality.