Courses Society of Genealogists

What have I learned in May?

Pharos Intermediate Certificate

I completed another Pharos Course towards my Certificate: 17th Century Sources, the final assignment is written, and due in next week. I was awarded 87%, a distinction, for my work on the course: Before the Modern Census – Name-rich Sources from 1690 to 1837 which keeps me on track for a distinction.

I just have two final courses for the certificate in June, Military Records and Victorian Crime and Punishment. Fingers crossed that I achieve sufficient marks for a distinction overall.

Strathclyde’s Post Graduate Certificate in Genealogy, Heraldry and Palaeography

I passed the first assignment, and the other has been submitted for term 4. Now I have to concentrate on this term’s assessment. Assignments are pass/fail affairs, whereas assessments are graded. This term’s assessment is a narrative report on one of five research questions. I have selected to write a biography of the medical professionals within a family.

I have been learning about using DNA testing for genealogy, feudalism, armed forces, surnames, records for genealogy in Ireland, Canada and the USA, and occupational and educational sources.


I re-read Steve Robinson’s The Girl in the Painting just before the Society of Genealogists book club discussion. I’m now working my way through more of Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s Forensic Genealogist series which I find fascinating. I finished The Sterling Affair this morning, so just have one left. I believe there may be more to come though.

I have finally finished Tracing your ancestors from 1066 to 1837 : a guide for family historians by Jonathan Oates. Next on the reading pile is Journeys in family history : exploring your past, finding your ancestors by Hey, David. Published in 2004 the initial section on the internet feels very dated already.

Meetings, Webinars, Courses

3 May
Genetic Genealogy live chat session
John ClearyStrathclyde UniversityAfter spending several hours getting bogged down in SNPs, STRs, Big Y and plenty of other jargon it was good to have a chat with fellow students. Most, but not all, have done an Ancestry Autosomal DNA test, but not got much further. I don’t feel quite so behind with understanding genetic genealogy now.
4 May
In Conversation with Karen de Bruyne
Karen de BruyneFind My PastI know Karen as a volunteer host for the Society of Genealogists events. It was lovely to hear her talking about how she has become a professional genealogist, some of her family stories and her experiences in researching.
7 May
The Future of Genealogy – Young Genealogists at the Helm
Joe Saunders, Catherine Theunissen, Daniel Loftus, Flossie Kingsbury, Matthew McMaster, George Hall, Matthew Abel, Dai Davies, Shaunese Luthy, Elizabeth HodgesSociety of Genealogists & Family History FederationThis was a fabulous day and it was an honour to be part of it. The young speakers were interesting and spoke on a range of subjects. It was inspiring to listen to and I am already looking forward to the next youth conference.
14 May
How to Die Like a Victorian
Holly Carter-ChappellSociety of GenealogistsHolly explained many Victorian customs around death to us, the reasons behind the post mortem photograph, mourning rings and many more. The importance of a good Christian death to Victorian society and drawing comparisons with today. Jewellery containing a loved ones ashes are on the rise.
18 May
What to Do With Your Family History: Class 2 – Storing your Family History: Creating a personal archive
Sophie HollinsheadSociety of GenealogistsI had been hoping to learn about how to create a personal archive, and some tips for organising the contents. Sophie took us through the archive collections she had created for some of her projects over the years and the serendipitous findings made from them.
19 May
Encounters with Barn Owls
Chris WynneNorth Wales Wildlife TrustA lovely look at barn owls in North Wales. I didn’t know that the majority of their diet was the short-tailed vole.
21 May
Same Sex Love, 1700-1957: History and Research Sources for Family Historians
Gill RossiniSociety of GenealogistsA fascinating talk which raised some interesting questions and thoughts. Not all loving same sex relationships are homosexual. Were there 18th and 19th century sapphic marriages or is there something we don’t know happening in the registers?
23 May
Book Club – The Girl in the Painting by Steve Robinson
Discussion, no speakerSociety of GenealogistsI think we were quite split over this book. I loved it, and will continue to read all of Steve’s books. Others were disappointed not to learn anything from it.
25 May
What to Do With Your Family History: Class 3 – Sharing your Family History: Writing the stories
Natalie PithersSociety of GenealogistsNatalie presented a workshop style talk to help us to write stories about our ancestors. We thought through the writing process, why and where to write, and how to add colour to stories of even the most “boring” ancestors.
26 May
Stage 2 Skills Course: Class 6 – Immigration to England
Janet FewSociety of GenealogistsThis was a fascinating talk and I am so glad I joined in. Although I completed Stage 2 of the skills course last year our change around has meant that this topic was not previously covered. Janet took us through an overview of why migration happens, and then highlighted three groups of immigrants to England. Finally we thought about the impact of immigration to the existing community.
28 May
Are you related to Royalty?
Caroline GurneySociety of GenealogistsThe simple answer appears to be yes! Whether or not it is possible to trace a line of descent, we are probably all related to royalty somehow.

I had a lot happening in work at the Society of Genealogists so it has felt like a very busy month even if the above does not reflect that. With two Pharos courses June is likely to be busy too, but I can look forward to a break in July and August.

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