Thought Leadership

By royal appointment

By Colin Walls

Like many people, I have become very interested in my family background and have begun to do some genealogy. I have some excellent software to help me build a “family archive” and I am starting out by just talking to all my older relatives and recording everything that I can extract from their memories. I have barely started, but it is already fascinating and I was amazed at what I could uncover.

The oldest relative, whom I have ever met, was my great grandmother Jessie – my father’s father’s mother. She lived into her 90s and died when I was a child, so I can clearly remember meeting her. I entered what I know about her onto my family tree, which included her profession, which was a dressmaker. This sounded quite mundane as, 100 years ago, women commonly made their own clothes. But a discussion with one of my aunts yielded a great surprise.

Jessie was not just an amateur dressmaker, she was one of the court dressmakers to Queen Victoria! My aunt showed me a patchwork that had been made of snippets of material used in making dresses for the Queen.

Patchwork from Queen Victoria's dresses
This direct connection with history is what my project was all about, but I was amazed to “strike gold” so quickly. I can now get very boring when I insist that people talk with their older relatives and find out what great stories they might have to tell.


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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at