In 1982 (or thereabouts), my family stumbled across a cache of old papers, although there's some confusion about whether it was my sister or my Dad. Our school was near 'The Dumps', a Municipal wasteground of World War 2 bomb craters, broken masonry, weeds and rubbish, and a favourite haunt of kids skiving off school to share a pack of B&H (so I'm told). My sister was about 10 at the time, so perhaps it was my Dad that made the discovery, although his reasons for roaming around The Dumps are perhaps best left shrouded in historical mystery.
In any case, these papers relate to a family, The Gullivers, and include an amazing selection of photos, family letters and historical documents dating back to the 1930s. My sister used them as a basis for a school project on family trees. Attempts were made to locate the family but in the pre-internet era of telephone directories and classified ads, nothing came of it.
My sister even wrote to Blue Peter about her discovery. She received a Blue Peter badge for her trouble, but their decision not to do a feature was accompanied by a somewhat stern admonishment that they hoped she had endeavoured to track down the family. The fact that their huge national platform gave them an ideal opportunity to assist with this appears to have passed them by. Blimey, even at the age of 15 I think I would have made a better producer. But I digress...
Time moved on, we all got on with living, and the documents were relegated to a dark corner of the family's loft. When my mum moved, they passed to me, with some vague notion that I would do something with them, but, again, life went on and they were relegated to a dark corner of my very own loft.
35 years later, older and more appreciative of the importance of family history, I've decided that it's time The Gullivers papers to make their final journey. I've undertaken a mission to catalogue each item and to try to construct a basic family free. Armed with this I can use the various family history platforms to try to track down a descendant.
It may not be easy. Not all families have an amateur archivist, and for many people the idea of having a file of smelly old family papers bestowed upon them produces a look of horror, or a shrug of bewilderment at best. We'll see.
I'll try to keep you updated. Wish me luck.