Courses Society of Genealogists

What have I learned in April?

Where on earth did April go?

I spent the first week ws leading a Ffestiniog Travel tour to Mallorca, which despite Easyjet’s best efforts to throw a spanner in the works, went very well. As I was on the train to Gatwick an email popped up, EasyJet had cancelled the following mornings direct flight to Palma. I contacted the lovely office staff, who then spent the remainder of their Sunday afternoon rebooking 17 seats on flights from Gatwick to Palma, the result was 6 hours at Madrid airport, not an ideal start to the tour, but we survived. It was lovely to feel the sun on my skin again!

I then spent a week at home catching up with SoG work, and writing an assignment, before another trip away. This time to the New Forest to visit my sister, and look after my nephew for a few days.

I completed another Pharos Course towards my Intermediate Certificate: Before the Modern Census – Name-rich Sources from 1690 to 1837. I have just begun 17th Century Sources, and then have two final courses for the certificate in June.

I scored 78% on my third term assessment for Strathclyde’s Post Graduate Certificate in Genealogy, Heraldry and Palaeography. Not quite as good as the second term, but I am still pleased. Term four, with a focus on Family History Studies and Overseas records began just as I got home from Mallorca. With another week away, and a lot going on at Society of Genealogists I do not yet feel I have a handle on the work this term.

I read Steve Robinson’s The Girl in the Painting for the Society of Genealogists bookclub. Another great offering in the Jefferson Tayte series. Still ongoing is Tracing your ancestors from 1066 to 1837 : a guide for family historians by Jonathan Oates, but I didn’t take this with me on my travels, as it is a library book rather than on my Kindle so progress has been slow. I read the first in the Maze Investigations – The Genealogy Detectives series, Three Times Removed which I really enjoyed, and will suggest to the bookclub. I also indulged my love of Jane Austen fanfiction to read Shana Granderson’s Unknown Family Connections which had a slight genealogy theme.

Meetings, Webinars, Courses etc this month:

2 April
Hidden in the Newsprint
Mia BennettSociety of GenealogistsAn interesting look at the many things that can be found in newspapers to enhance family history research.
2 April
My Ancestor was a Liar: Ignorance, Half-truths or Wilful Deceit?
David AnnalSociety of GenealogistsWere our ancestors lying, or was it ignorance? Why did they give a different age in every census return? Some interesting thoughts.
13 April
Social Chat: Tall Tales from our Ancestors: Erroneous information & Family Lies
Else ChurchillSociety of GenealogistsA fun discussion about our ancestors and the information they left behind.
21 April
Stage 2 Skills Course. Class 1. I’m stuck. Techniques for localising the elusive ancestor
Else ChurchillSociety of GenealogistsI enjoyed hosting the first class of the first course I have put together for SoG. Having taken this course previously it was a reminder, but a useful one, that even when stuck there are always more places to look.
30 April
Posted in the Past
Helen BaggottSociety of GenealogistsWe read this Helen’s book for the SoG bookclub. This seminar was a more in-depth look at the recipients of some of the postcards in the first two books. Very interesting and it has inspired me to look out for old postcards sent to or from Pentrefelin.

Another very full month, lovely to spend some time away from home, and see the sunshine. I am going to have to get my head down to studying in May!

Courses Society of Genealogists

What have I learned in March?

I am settling in at the Society of Genealogists. The Stage 2 Evening Skills course I have arranged begins next month, and soon to be advertised are Stage 3, a course about researching ancestors in the seventeenth century and one on London geography and repositories.

I have gained another distinction in the Pharos Course Building on a Solid Foundation, and have been studying another course towards my Intermediate Certificate: Before the Modern Census – Name-rich Sources from 1690 to 1837. I’ll be handing in my assessments for this course once I am back from Mallorca in April.

I completed the assignments for this term at Strathclyde early in the month which left plenty of time for the big main assessment. As I mentioned last month it is another “do some genealogy” task. We have been given two individuals and scarce details about them and a common ancestor. The assignment is all about filling in the gaps. I really enjoyed working on this and hope to get a reasonable mark.

I finished Helen Baggott’s Posted in the Past for the Society of Genealogists book club. Still ongoing is Tracing your ancestors from 1066 to 1837 : a guide for family historians by Jonathan Oates.

I helped out in the Expert Booth at RootsTech for the Register of Qualified Genealogists, but it was very quiet! I also really enjoyed the 24 hours of talks on the HistoryForUkraine event, some great speakers and a lot of money raised.

Meetings, Webinars, Courses etc this month:

7 March
Using the FamilySearch Catalog
FamilySearchI struggle to use the Family Search catalog but there is a wealth of information in it and I really should use it much more. This helped me to find the information that is available.
12 March
Mummy, What did you do in the Great War? My ancestor was a woman at War.
Emma JollySociety of GenealogistsA fascinating look a the role women played during the first world war, and how to find the records.
15 March
Getting Started with Entrepreneurship
Dr Kate Smith of Credo AcademyStrathclyde UniversityA good confidence booster as I start my business.
15 March
Nature Reserve update: Gwaith Powdwr (springing into action)
North Wales Wildlife TrustIt was lovely to see all that is going on at Gwaith Powdwr and the work being done to view and protect bats.
16 March
Lunchtime Chat – Tracing Female Ancestors – Why are we neglecting half of our Ancestors
Else ChurchillSociety of GenealogistsIt is always very unpredictable what direction these chats will take. We ended up talking about how women took their husband’s nationality. I do enjoy hosting these.
26 March
New Ways of Using Census Microdata to Research Social History
Dr Lesley TrotterSociety of GenealogistsA very interesting talk about using census data to inform one place studies and similar research. Using databases is the key to analysis.

Between working for SoG, a Pharos course with a lot packed into it, an assessment for Strathclyde and starting to do some research for clients it has been a very full, but satisfying month.

Courses Society of Genealogists

What have I learned in February?

I have been learning how to set up and administrate courses for the Society of Genealogists. There is quite an overlap with setting up group tours for Ffestiniog Travel, but a substantial difference too. So, plenty to learn, and enjoy.

I have completed and passed the Pharos Course Apprenticeship Records and have finished Building on a Solid Foundation, though don’t yet have my marks back. The latter especially has been really interesting and made me consider my research techniques.

My Strathclyde course this month has mainly been about maps and geographic locations. There was also a fascinating “lecture” on old money, coins, weights and measures. I have passed the first assignment of the term, apparently our collaborative group worked together better than most who were set the same exercise. I just have some editing to do before handing in my second assignment of the term, so next month will be all about the big assignment for this Module. We have been given two individuals and a scarce details about them and a common ancestor. The assignment is all about filling in the gaps. I have already got stuck into the research and I am enjoying puzzling it out.

I am reading Helen Baggott’s Posted in the Past for the Society of Genealogists book club. I have also read Annie’s Ancestors by Sarah J. Homer this month. Also ongoing is Tracing your ancestors from 1066 to 1837 : a guide for family historians by Jonathan Oates.

Meetings, Webinars, Courses etc this month:

19 February
Same Sex Love, 1700–1957: History and Research Sources for Family Historians
Gill RossiniSociety of GenealogistsSadly cancelled. I’m looking forward to it being rescheduled.
19 February
Scottish Research Resources before 1800
Chris PatonSociety of GenealogistsA fascinating talk, in which Chris Paton made it clear that Scotland is not England. He then gave us a “toolkit” of resources for early Scottish research and explained many of the differences in terminology. A very useful session.
24 February
On the Right Track: Researching Railway Workers
Ian WallerSociety of GenealogistsIan provided many suggestions of places to research my railway ancestors. I do not have many, but railways are a big part of my life so I find them particularly interesting.
26 February
My Ancestor was on the 1921 Census – Well, they should have been!
John HansonSociety of GenealogistsJohn was able to provide insights into using the 1921 Census that anyone employed by Find My Past would not offer. I am very much looking forward to it being included in a subscription rather than pay per view.

It was a deliberate decision to slow down and take fewer classes this month. Pharos and Strathclyde are both keeping me busy studying and I needed to concentrate on settling into my new job as well as starting a business.


What have I learned in January?

The end of last year felt crazily busy and it was good to take a break from everything over Christmas. You may have seen my 12 Days of Christmas blogs.

Term restarted on 7th January and I am now working on Module 3 of Postgraduate Certificate, focussing on Repositories, Geography and administration. I have been thinking about copyright issues, and working collaboratively. I am incredibly proud of having scored 97% on the end of term Assessment for module 2. The pass mark was 30%.

I am very excited to have begun working part-time from home for the Society of Genealogists on 24th January. I am an Events Assistant helping to organise and run the online, and in person, talks and events. I am really enjoying it so far.

I am also working on two more Pharos Course, Apprenticeship Records and Building on a Solid Foundation. As you can imagine my feet are barely touching the ground, though I did manage to walk a total of 116 miles over the month.

I am beginning to take on some private clients for genealogy work, while still getting all my paperwork in place. It is all very exciting!

I read, and really enjoyed, Janet Few’s Barefoot on the Cobbles for the Society of Genealogists book club. I finished the last of Steve Robinson’s Jefferson Tayte series in December and I’m looking forward to the next being published. I am currently reading Legacies: A Family History Mystery Thriller by Rosamunde Bott.

Meetings, Webinars, Courses etc this month:

04 January
Researching your family history: 1837-1911
Jessamy CarlsonThe National Archives This was actually towards the end of last year but I was double booked and missed it. I finally found time to view the recording. It was a useful general overview of how to conduct family history research. I found the reminder to always start by summarising what you know and proving it to be very helpful.
05 January
Managing Citations & Sources Lists in Zotero
Colleen Robledo Greene, MLISLegacy Family Tree WebinarsAnother that I was catching up with after missing out when it was originally aired. I was surprised that Colleen did not use the automatically generated citations, but stored her own formatted versions within Zotero as a note. I learned some useful tips including how to insert footnotes straight into Word.
08 January
Census surgery: behind the 1921 census
Audrey Collins and Myko ClellandThe National ArchivesA useful session explaining some of the history of census taking. Then focused on the 1921 census, and why the fertility question was removed. Detailed explanation of the newer questions – the orphan question, and the children grid. Myko made a great point that the census reveals that people have not changed in essentials. Horses, dogs, cats, goldfish and a tortoise were enumerated. Nationalities recorded include “Yorkshire man”
08 January
Archive Sources for Local History
Nicola WaddingtonSociety of GenealogistsNicola went through the many records, such as OS, tithe and farm survey maps, census records and electoral rolls, manorial records and many more that can be used to learn about local history which gives more depth to family history.
09 January
Discovering the Unindexed Records in the FamilySearch Catalog
James TannerBYU Family History LibraryI have realised that I am not using FamilySearch enough, it holds a vast range of records, and is free so I really should make more of it. This was a great help in learning how to find the unindexed records. It is like going to the archive and scrolling through a film of parish records to find the right people.
10 January
Using the FamilySearch Catalog
AnnetteFamily History Library WebinarsSimilar to the video I watched yesterday this reinforced how useful, and extensive, FamilySearch is. Good to see a live demonstration of using the search.
12 January
Virtual Common Room Chat:
New Year’s Resolutions – Organising your Family History
Else ChurchillSociety of GenealogistsThe virtual common room chats are really enjoyable discussions. A great perk of SoG membership. Great to bounce ideas off people and realise that I’m not doing too badly really!
15 January
Evernote – The Fundamentals
Graham WalterSociety of GenealogistsI don’t think Evernote is for me, most the suggestions were things that I already do within Legacy but I can see how this could be useful for others.
27 January
Introducing the 1921 Census of England & Wales
Myko ClellanSociety of GenealogistsA fantastic talk about some of the intricacies of the 1921 Census. It is great to see people’s personalities come through in something as mundane as a census return. I haven’t had time, or money, to find more than my grandparents and great grandparents until now.
31 January
Book Club Book 3
Barefoot on the Cobbles
Janet FewSociety of GenealogistsA thought provoking book and just fun to discuss it with others.


What have I learned in November?

I had a break from Pharos in October, but in November studied Nonconformity – Its Records and History 1600 – 1950 and Professional Genealogist – Become One, Become A Better One. I also squeezed in the Really Useful Family History Show one weekend, followed by a 2 day virtual event at Strathclyde University. So it has been a very busy month alongside working on the second term of the Strathclyde Certificate and working half time for Ffestiniog Travel.

I have struggled somewhat with what to let go, should it be housework, Freegle, time for myself, walking, blogging, sleep or genealogy. There was no time at all for research into my own family history. I cut back on my social media time, and asked Tony to take on a bit more of the housework. I did keep up walking, but failed to complete the distance for a week long sponsored walk. I spent sometime creating filters for Freegle emails so that I could spend a little time each day focussing on Freegle rather than reading and acting on emails as they arrived.

I have continued to learn about civil and church registration in England, Wales and Scotland through Module 2 of the Strathclyde Certificate. Despite having used the English and Welsh records for many years there have been some surprises through the course, particularly in changes to regulations over the years. Scottish records tend to contain far more information than English and Welsh records. I have passed the first assignment on this Module and have handed in the second. I’m working now on the Module Assessment which is a pedigree drawing exercise, we were given one individual and have been asked to draw a 4 generation pedigree with all the usual basic facts (birth, baptism, marriage, death, burial, probate, census returns and occupations) for each of them, plus 20 additional facts, and 3 pictures. I’ve found some school records and university alumni records as some of my additional facts but I have more to do on this.

I found Janet Few’s talk about the next generation of genealogists fascinating and an area of discussion I hope to join with over the coming months. This was followed up by an open forum a bit later in the month and another discussion about #genealogyforall. Very interesting and there definitely seems to be a movement away from regarding genealogy as a hobby for retirees.

I read The Jeopardy of Every Wind:The Biography of Captain Thomas Bowrey by Sue Paul for the Society of Genealogists book club as well as continuing my way through Steve Robinson’s Jefferson Tayte series which are rather more gruesome than my usual choice of novel but I’ve enjoyed them.

I have to say, I’m starting December exhausted!

Meetings, Webinars, Courses etc this month:
3 November
Researching your Ancestors in England in the Long 18th Century
Time Travelers Guide to Regency England
Ian MortimerSociety of Genealogists The final class of this course. Ian Mortimer was a wonderful speaker. Witty, interesting and quirky. He talked us through an A-Z of life in the Regency period. I loved his suggestion of obtaining some coins from any period in history which one is studying. Handling something that your ancestor used on a daily basis forms a connection to them. Coins passed through many hundreds of hands.
6 November
Marriage Law for Genealogists (England and Wales)
Rebecca ProbertSociety of Genealogists This was a very helpful talk through Rebecca’s book which I had read only a week or two ago, as well as a look at divorce, bigamy and so on, all of which will feature in a new book. I was a very useful session and highly relevant for my degree course.
12 November
Genealogy: the Next Generation
Janet FewFHF Really Useful ShowThis was a wonderful talk, full of very good points about bringing the next generation into genealogy. Societies are ageing and not appealing to anyone very much under retirement age. There are conversations beginning to happen about what should be done, clearly current efforts are not working. Janet also mentioned research I have seen briefly previously about children who grow up knowing about their family history being more secure and well balanced.
13 November
Preserving and Digitising the 1921 Census of England and Wales
Mary McKeeFHF Really Useful ShowFascinating to learn the process the 1921 Census has been through prior to us being able to access it early next year. Pins equivalent to the weight of two bowling balls were removed and well bits of tobacco and some minibeasts! It really wasn’t just shoving some documents through a photocopier! I’m very excited to see my ancestors on the 1921 census in just 2 months time.
13 November
Researching your family history: 20th century sources
Jessamy CarlsonThe National ArchivesA basic but useful overview of records for tracing family history at the National Archives.
13 November
Using Genuki
Malcolm FHF Really Useful ShowUnfortunately the technology didn’t seem to have been tested before this session, but it was very useful to see how much GENUKI has to offer. I’ve been using it for years, but there was plenty I didn’t know.
13 November
The National Burial Ground Survey Of England
Tim VineyFHF Really Useful ShowThis project which hit the media a couple of months ago looks to be very comprehensive for England, I think just the Church of England.
13 November
Palaeography and Reading Documentary Handwriting
Carol BannisterFHF Really Useful ShowContext helps! Carol told us about different transcription types. We also learned about tips and tools to help such as software. We went through some of the common contractions and other complications.
13 November
Become a house detective – Researching the History of Your Home
Stephen PoulterFHF Really Useful ShowWe were taken through how Stephen used the clues around his home to research its history. We also learned about using tithe maps, and dealing with unnumbered properties.
15 November
Using Genetic Genealogy in your research.
Donna RutherfordUniversity of Strathclyde MSc in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic StudiesDonna explained how DNA testing works and how it can be used to aid genealogy. She used some case studies to explain how DNA has solved some difficult cases such as foundlings and adoptees. She explained that they do not always have a happy ending such as on Long Lost Families.
15 November
Wills, Probate and the Church Courts: What we can learn from them.
Laura YeomanUniversity of Strathclyde MSc in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic StudiesLaura explained about court records that can be found at the Borthwick Institute. Many of them are incredibly useful for genealogical research.
15 November
What is the genealogical value of the late 17th century ledgers of the scrivener-banker Sir Robert
Clayton and the goldsmith-banker Sir Richard Hoare?
Will Lyon-Dalberg-ActonUniversity of Strathclyde MSc in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic StudiesWill told us about his research recently completed for the University. It was fascinating how much information there is an less thought of source.
15 November
Save It!: Backing Up & Organizing Your Photos, Digital Files, and
Paper Piles.
LaDonna GarnerUniversity of Strathclyde MSc in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic StudiesLaDonna had some really useful tips about backing up and organising.
15 November
Strathclyde PhD
Dr. Barbara BallUniversity of Strathclyde MSc in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic StudiesDr Barbara was the first student to complete the PhD in History and Genealogy at Strathclyde she told us about the process she went through and provided some tips.
16 November
Cemetery and headstone/burial marker research in Ireland
Joe BuggyUniversity of Strathclyde MSc in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic StudiesI had no idea there were so many places to search for Irish grave markers and their inscriptions. A fascinating talk.
16 November
The Jews of Scotland – a data mining exercise.
Michael TobiasUniversity of Strathclyde MSc in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic StudiesMichael showed us how he had automated processes for gathering huge sets of data from some of the large genealogy websites and putting them into spreadsheets for comparison and processing.
16 November
How English Civil Registration actually works.
Antony MarrUniversity of Strathclyde MSc in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic StudiesYou may have noted that I have heard Antony Marr talk about civil registration before, but he knows the topic so well that there is always something new to learn from him.
20 November
5 Killer Apps for Genealogy on the Go
Graham WalterSociety of Genealogists This was a really useful session. Graham showed us Evernote, FindAGrave, Dropbox, Microsoft To-do list and Genius Scan. I have tried Evernote previously and can see the uses but I need to try it again. I think there is quite a lot of overlap with Zotero which works well for University referencing. I’m already using FindAGrave and Dropbox, and I like ToDoist instead of the microsoft version. Genius Scan looks to be a useful addition to the apps on my phone.
25 November
The Future of Genealogy
Nick BarrettRegister of Qualified GenealogistsNick gave a very interesting talk about the directions that Genealogy could go as it becomes more and more accessible with records available online. There were some intriguing ideas around community work and supporting those with or at risk of dementia.
26 November
Birds, bats, badgers, beavers and bunnies
David Llewelyn PhillipsHeraldry SocietyI am very aware that my Post Grad course is in Genealogy, Palaeography and Heraldry. We have not covered any heraldry as yet, and my entire knowledge of the subject comes from pub quizzes and a week or two in pre-GCSE History many many years ago. Although not intended as an introduction to the subject this was very interesting and I picked up a few of the important terms – canting, crest, sable, argent, chief.
26 November
Genealogy For All
Daniel LoftusDaniel’s GenealogyA discussion about making genealogy more inclusive, whether that means getting younger people involved, addressing issues in the software we use such as forcing male/female choices, getting to meetings for those with care responsibilities, how to talk to children who aren’t from western traditional stereotypical nuclear families about family history.
27 November
Genealogy: the Next Generation
Janet FewFamily History FederationA follow up discussion about interesting younger people in genealogy.
27 November
Researching your family history: 1837-1911
Audrey CollinsThe National ArchivesThis was at the same time as the above discussion and so I will be watching the recording as soon as I’ve completed my work on Module 2.
27 November
Manorial Records and Property & Taxation Records: Sources for Researching Rich & Poor Ancestors
Caroline Gurney Society of Genealogists Caroline presented a lot of detail about how to get the most out of these sources as well as where to find them.


What have I learned in October?

First a flashback to the Pharos Wills and Administrations course I took in September I am very proud to say that I gained another Distinction. So that is three out of the ten courses I need to pass for the Family History Skills and Strategies (FHSS) Intermediate Certificate completed.

I took a break from Pharos in October, mainly due to returning to work part-time with Ffestiniog Travel, and because term restarted for the Strathclyde Post Graduate Certificate. However, I have just begun Nonconformity – Its Records and History 1600 – 1950 which I am hoping will help me to learn more about my maternal grandfather’s Methodist family.

This term the Strathclyde Certificate has focused on Church and Civil records. So I have been learning a lot about the history of the census amongst other things. Learning that the oh so useful for genealogists “fertility questions” on the 1911 census had it’s origins in a belief in eugenics[1] sent a shiver down my spine. I have been learning about the differences in marriage law between England and Wales, and Scotland, and how cultural differences affected civil registration.

I have continued to host the Society of Genealogists “Researching your Ancestors in England in the Long 18th Century” course, a new 10 week course, loosely based on the shorter assessed course offered by Pharos. We just have one class left.

I re-read Hiding the Past (The Forensic Genealogist #1) by
Nathan Dylan Goodwin for the Society of Genealogists book club. I’m just finishing Ian Mortimer’s The Time Travellers Guide to Regency Britian before he is the guest speaker for the final class of the Long 18th Century course.

2 October
Getting the Best from the SoG Online Collections
Else Churchill Society of Genealogists There have been some changes to the website so this was a very useful review of the many many resources available on the SOG website. There are two different collections which need searching separately. A very useful session.
5 October
Using the FamilySearch Catalog
FamilySearchI missed the beginning of this as I was at work. However it was a useful session and I will be able to search more effectively in future. I’d like to see it again at a better time though.
6 October
Researching your Ancestors in England in the Long 18th Century
Court Records – Criminal Assizes, Old Baily. Common Law, Equity and Civil Courts.
Else Churchill Society of Genealogists Else took us through courts and their records in a blizzard of information. I definitely need to watch this one again, probably more than once.
9 October
A Stitch in Time, A Social History of Seamstresses,   Dressmakers and Tailors
Adele EmmSociety of Genealogists A fascinating, and at time heart rendering, account of he lives of those who made clothes. The slop shops or sweat shops were truly horrendous places to work. My 2 x great aunt who was a self employed dressmaker in the late 19th century would have had a much easier time of it.
9 October
Researching your Coal Miner Family History in England
Jill Clapham of the National Coal Mining MuseumSociety of Genealogists While individual coal miners might not feature very much in the records, unless they were involved in an accident, there is still plenty that can be learned about their life and work.
12 October
Using the FamilySearch Wiki
Danielle Batson, AG. MLS.FamilySearchA useful session which gave me a few tips I hadn’t already picked up. I didn’t realise how spoilt we are in Britain with the parish pages.
13 October
Researching your Ancestors in England in the Long 18th Century
A Country at War Militias, Volunteers and Fencible
Else ChurchillSociety of GenealogistsWell, I now know what a fencible is, and it was fun to see Pride and Prejudice mentioned in the context of genealogy. Wickham was in the militia while Colonel Fitzwilliam was in the regulars.
20 October
Researching your Ancestors in England in the Long 18th Century
Monuments and Memorials, Graveyard Inscriptions, etc
Else ChurchillSociety of GenealogistsI didn’t realise I had so much to learn about monuments and other burial records. So many are disappearing fast and we should be very grateful to everyone who has worked over the years to transcribe them.
23 October
Scottish Indexes Conference XIII
Eilir DanielsScottish IndexesI had a lot of other things going on today so only listened to Eilir Daniels talking about how to trace Welsh Ancestors. I now have a much better understanding of Welsh patronymics, and non-conformity.
27 October
Researching your Ancestors in England in the Long 18th Century
Rise of the Professional Classes, Universities and Schools, etc
Else ChurchillSociety of GenealogistsYet another fascinating talk about which has left me feeling that I’m missing out on quite a lot of records. I need to spend more time investigating my ancestors education, especially those who worked in the professions.
30 October
Careers in Genealogy: Want to be a Professional?
Antony MarrSociety of Genealogists One or two people admitted at the end of the morning that the session had put them off considering becoming a professional genealogist, but I found the opposite. The course was inspiring with plenty to consider. It has strengthened my resolve to gain the qualifications that I am working on, and then to launch a business. It is very exciting!

[1] Jolly, Emma. (2013) Tracing your ancestors using the census: a guide for family historians. Pen & Sword. : accessed 6 September 2021. p140


What have I learned in September?

First a flashback to the Pharos Employment Records course I took in July and August. I am very proud to say that I achieved a distinction grade. A big boost to my confidence.

I completed my second course with Pharos, Recording the Poor – from Parish to Workhouse and beyond. We learned about both the old (pre 1834) and new (post 1834) poor laws, the records they generated, and how to learn more about poor ancestors. I had not realised the prevalence of Friendly Societies and similar sorts of organisations which provided a kind of sickness and unemployment insurance. I’ve passed this course too, so that is two out of the ten courses I need to pass for the  Family History Skills and Strategies (FHSS) Intermediate Certificate completed.

I then started Wills and Administrations: The riches of probate records which I finished on 30th September. I feel much more confident looking for pre-1858 wills now and hope to find some useful information very soon. I finally understand how Death Duty Registers will help me with genealogy and I look forward to finding entries for my ancestors.

I am still working my way through “Tracing Your Ancestors in the National Archives: The Website and Beyond” by Amanda Bevan. I also re-read Hiding the Past (The Forensic Genealogist #1) by
Nathan Dylan Goodwin for the Society of Genealogists book club.

I have co-hosted the Society of Genealogists “Researching your Ancestors in England in the Long 18th Century” course, a new 10 week course, loosely based on the shorter assessed course offered by Pharos.

I am back at work half time from 1st October so I am expecting to have less time for courses other than the work required for the Strathclyde Post Graduate Certificate next month.

Course/WebinarSpeaker(s)OrganiserMy reflections
1 September
Researching your Ancestors in England in the Long 18th Century
Setting the Scene: Time-lines. Georgian life. Early Newspapers, Magazines and Periodicals
Else Churchill Society of Genealogists Time-lines are always important in genealogy. It is important to check that births, marriages, and death occur in the correct order and at plausible ages. Setting an ancestors personal time-line against the events of the time helps to understand what what going on in their life. I was surprised to find just how many newspapers are available from before 1837, and even if specific ancestors do not appear, we can learn what they were gossiping about, maybe the weather they experienced, what they might have bought from the adverts, and of course what was happening around them.
3 September
FAN Club in Action: a Simple Case Study
Geoff RasmussenLegacy Family Tree Webinars A fascinating case study in how using Friends/Family, Associates and Neighbours can enhance our family history and even break down brick walls. Names mentioned in obituaries, and newspaper accounts as well as marriage witnesses can be really useful.
4 & 5 September
Ancestor Journeys
Janet Few, Mia Bennett, Susan Swalwell, William E Cole & Nicola Waddington, Sue Paul and Nick BarrattSociety of Genealogists and the Halsted TrustA very, very useful weekend of talks. I was co-hosting for some of the talks, and really enjoyed the discussions. My main takeaway from the weekend has been how interesting it can be to research one or two ancestors in depth using any resources available. They are so many sources out there, often not available online, and not indexed that can tell us much about our ancestors work, lives and characters. My “52 Ancestors” blog posts follow this style to some extent and as travel becomes more possible I hope to explore other records more.
8 September
Researching your Ancestors in England in the Long 18th Century
Parish Life. Problems and solutions with using 18th century parish records. Looking for missing baptisms and marriages, Search, strategies. The 18th Century Poor
Else Churchill Society of Genealogists Else briefly touched on the Poor Laws, which I have been learning about with Pharos too. We learned about why some birth/baptism, marriage, and death/burial records appear not be be recorded in the 18th Century and where else too look if records cannot be found in parish registers. Having been told that some household fragments exist for the 1811, 1821 and 1831 census I am very excited to find that Crich is one such place. One day I’ll get to Matlock to see if any ancestors are included.
10 September
Getting the Best out of the SoG’s NEW website
Rebecca Gregory and Else ChurchillSociety of Genealogists A very useful explanation and demonstration of how the various parts of the website work and fit together. I now understand why I have to log in several times, and I think I have found parts of the website I had not previously explored.
11 September
Getting the Best from The National Archives Website
Simon FowlerSociety of Genealogists Simon’s talk was very helpful and I learned more about how to use the search function on the website to find documents of use to my research.
15 September
Researching your Ancestors in England in the Long 18th Century
Voting Rights and Responsibilities Poll Books, Jurors Lists, Borough Records, City Freemen and Associated Records
Else ChurchillSociety of GenealogistsAnother very useful session. We heard about poll books, lists of not just who could vote, but who they voted for. We learned about how the right to vote varied across the country and not to assume that poor ancestors would not have been able to vote. More and more of these records are available online.
18 September
Family Tree Maker™ Software Overview for Beginners & Refreshers

TreeVault® Cloud Services and Other New Family Tree Maker 2019 Features
Mike BollingerSociety of GenealogistsTwo talks on the same day. The morning talk covered many of the features of Family Tree Maker Software. Some, of course, I knew about through my use of the program for Strathclyde University. Other features were new to me and I look forward to trying them out.
The afternoon’s talk was focussed on new features in the upcoming release, especially developments to the back up feature TreeVault. I now know that this is much more than a back up, and will actually help with research by feeding into other websites including Ancestry, FamilySearch and so on, but also historical weather and more. Who doesn’t want to know what the weather was like on their grandparents wedding day!
22 September
Researching your Ancestors in England in the Long 18th Century
Tax and Town. Directories and Almanacks, Rate Books, Land and Window Tax, Assessed Taxes, Insurance Records and Tontines
Else ChurchillSociety of GenealogistsLots of advice about using directories. I used them for the 19th Century, but not really 18th Century as yet. As well as the geographical directories listing the tradesmen, great and good in a city, there are some fascinating sounding specific directories. “A Master Key to the Rich Ladies Treasury”, written by “a younger brother” lists rich widows, while “Harris’s List of the Covent Garden Ladies” is an annual list of female sex workers, with names and what services are offered.
25 September
Breaking Down Brick Walls
Mark BayleyThe Family History Show OnlineThis was a tour of the various records available on The Genealogist website. I don’t use this site enough. The 1921 Census substitute, a compilation of electoral registers and other records sounds very useful. I need to use it more.
25 September
In Pursuit of Lots! Using Forenames to Build the Family Tree
Sue SwalwellSociety of Genealogists A fascinating insight into how an unusual forename passed down through a family can help trace a family.
25 September
Tracing Your Ancestral Home
Nick BarrattThe Family History Show OnlineI found it very interesting that houses with information about who lived in a house previously sell more quickly and sometimes for higher value. Gather clues such a title deed packages, people in the area who have stories about owners and occupiers, or local history societies with nuggets of information. Look up the various districts: parliamentary, poor law union, manor and so on. Check an aerial photography such as Googlemaps. Look at style of architecture, compare to neighbours. Lots more useful tips too.
29 September
Researching your Ancestors in England in the Long 18th Century
Property and Probate. Wills and Associated Probate Records and Disputes. Deeds Registries, Manorial and Estate Records. Enclosure, Tithes and Tenants.
Else ChurchillSociety of GenealogistsA very thorough, whistle stop tour, through the various probate records. We ran out of time for the property records. It helped clarify what I have been learning this month with Pharos.


What have I learned in August?

I completed my first course with Pharos, Employment Records. We learned about the kinds of records which exist for many different occupations, where to find them and how they may be of use in family history. My final assignment was about blacksmiths and you may already have read my blog about Thomas Hopkinson, father and son, blacksmiths.

I then started Recording the Poor – From Parish to Workhouse and Beyond. We thought about why a higher percentage of the population was poor in previous generations, and how we would know our ancestors were poor. We looked at using newspapers to learn about pauper ancestors. I’ve much more understanding of the old and new poor laws now and the records that they generated.

I took a bit of a break from reading, and I am still reading Ian Mortimer’s “The Time Traveller’s Guide to Regency Britain.” I am also working my way through “Tracing Your Ancestors in the National Archives: The Website and Beyond” by Amanda Bevan.

As light relief I enjoyed In the Blood (Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Mystery Book 1) by Steve Robinson. It made a change from Jane Austen fanfiction! Currently available through Kindle Unlimited, it is also an audiobook, paperback etc. The blurb on Amazon compares it to Dan Brown, Stieg Larsson and Arthur Conan Doyle, well I love the first two so worth a try? It certainly was … I finished it at 2am.

I have co-hosted the Society of Genealogists “Tracing your London Ancestors” course, which continued from July. Very few of my ancestors came from London, but so many people visited or lived there for a while that this course feels very useful.

Course/WebinarSpeaker(s)OrganiserMy reflections
1 August
My Ancestor was a Blacksmith
Ian WallerSociety of Genealogists This talk has been very useful for my Pharos Employment Records assignment. It has pointed me in the direction of other records that I might not have thought about otherwise, such as checking whether my ancestors smithy was adjacent to the coaching inn. Ian suggests looking at Quarter Session records and title deeds in the local archives to find out more about blacksmith ancestors.
4 August
Lunchtime Chat – Ephemera- How do Transitory Objects offer Insight into your Ancestor’s Lives?
Else ChurchillSociety of Genealogists Some people are lucky to have received letters, birthday books and other documents handed down from previous generations. Others have nothing, or so much that they don’t know where to start. One attendee had written her family history in 100 objects. For each object she wrote about the family member or ancestor associated with it. Objects chosen ranged from jewellery to pictures to furniture. What a fabulous idea.
4 August
Burying the Body in England
Helen SmithLegacy Family Tree WebinarsHelen suggested some useful places to look to find out where our ancestors might have been buried. I didn’t know that in many parts of the world the burial location is listed on the death certificate.
5 August
Latin for Family Historians
Caroline GurneySociety of Genealogists Following on from last months class on palaeography this was incredibly helpful and gave me confidence that I will be able, if slowly, to work out Latin documents that I come across in my research.
7 August
Tracing your London Ancestors Course class 6: Finding London Burials
John HansonSociety of Genealogists This followed on very neatly from Helen Smith’s talk a few days ago. There are many many indexes which can help to trace where London ancestors were buried.
11 August
Ship to Shore
Janet Few Society of Genealogists Living close to the sea shaped our ancestors lives. It was often a dangerous and uncertain life, more so than inland lives. There are some specific records that can be used, perhaps the deaths at sea registers need to be considered more often. I’m looking forward to learning more about the sea men that I find in the Pentrefelin records.
14 August
Tracing your London Ancestors Course class 7: London Sources in the SoG Library
Else Churchill Society of Genealogists I learned that the Society was originally focussed solely on London and only later became a national organisation. It was not a surprise to learn that the library holds many and various records of Londoners.
17 August
Quick Start: Blogging
WordPressI still find the process of blogging and getting it to look how I would like difficult. I learned a little more about how to structure my blog site but several of my questions were directed to the forums rather than answered.
18 August
Standards for Genealogical Documentation
Tom Jones, Ph.D., CGLegacy Family Tree Webinars A very helpful presentation which mainly covered the importance of referencing and how to craft a citation.
18 August
Using Zotero to Organize and Annotate Your Family History Research
Colleen Robledo Greene, MLISLegacy Family Tree Webinars I had begun using Zotero as it had been recommended by the tutors at Strathclyde University, but this gave me much more insight into how to use it to keep track of my sources and books. I’ll be spending some time organising soon.
30 August
The Role of the Victorian Head Gardener
Judith HillSociety of Genealogists A fascinating look into gardeners, the progression from a 12 year old garden boy, through to head gardener. I suspect my great great grandfather Job didn’t work at a “big house” so this wasn’t quite what he was doing. My first presentation where I added notes straight into Zotero.

Courses Operation Bletchley

What have I learned in July?

Term finished at Strathclyde at the end of June but I continued studying with Pharos. I have been learning about employment records and have been surprised at just how much there is out there. I will definitely be spending more time learning about my ancestors occupations in the future. I am now working on the end of unit assignment, focusing on how to learn more about my Hopkinson blacksmith ancestors.

I took a bit of a break from reading, but have been enjoying Ian Mortimer’s “The Time Traveller’s Guide to Regency Britain.”

July went a bit pear-shaped when I ended up pacing the hospital grounds having dropped my husband at the “same day emergency care unit”. He is on the mend now but it was a worrying time. I didn’t focus very well and really didn’t take in very much from the talks that I was co-hosting uin the immediate aftermath.

I have co-hosted the Society of Genealogists “Tracing your London Ancestors” course, which continues into August. Very few of my ancestors came from London, but so many people visited or lived there for a while that this course feels very useful.

Course/WebinarSpeaker(s)OrganiserMy reflections
3 July
Tracing your London Ancestors Course class 1. London Admin Boundaries & parish registers
Ian WallerSociety of Genealogists Ian’s explanation of the various London boundaries was very useful. Having spent the majority of my life in the north of England and Wales I have a very bad habit of just calling it all “London”!
7 July
Irish Ancestors & Irish Lives
Session 6 – The Schools Collection – a vastly underused resource & Lucky Dip
Jill Williams & Rosalind McCutcheonSociety of GenealogistsThe Schools Collection is an amazing resource, and one I would love to see created again, not just in Ireland. For those that don’t know, like me, it was a 1930s project in which school children interviewed “old people” about a different topic each week and wrote up their findings. Each school chose the best reports each week to record in a manuscript book. It is fascinating!
10 July
Tracing your London Ancestors Course class 2. Getting the best from the census (London) and 1939 register
John HansonSociety of Genealogists
17 July
Secrets and Lies: Adventures in other people’s family history
Dr Frances HurdSociety of Genealogists
17 July
Tracing your London Ancestors Course class 3. In & Out of London
Ian WallerSociety of Genealogists
22 July
Miscellany Researching forward from 1911
Les MitchinsonThe Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical StudiesLes gave advice on using the electoral registers, 1939 register and education records amongst others to trace more recent ancestors. We also learned about how the 1921 census, due to be released in January will be of use.
23 July
In Their Own Write: The Testimony of the Victorian English and Welsh Poor
Paul CarterThe National ArchivesVery interesting to hear the letters written from workhouses, and those who were receiving “out relief”
24 July
Tracing your London Ancestors Course class 4. London Wills & Probate
Else ChurchillSociety of Genealogists A very useful reminder of how to find pre-1858 wills. More and more are available online.
29 July
Reading Old Handwriting (Palaeography) for Family Historians
Caroline GurneySociety of Genealogists The workshop format for this talk worked really well online. Caroline gave us plenty of suggestions and hints before we divided into groups to attempt to read a will from 1695.
31 July
Tracing your London Ancestors Course class 5. London Sources at the London Metropolitan Archives
Jeff GerhardtSociety of Genealogists I had no idea how much is held by the LMA. Covid makes visiting and ordering records awkward but once things start to return to normal a visit would be fascinating.

Meanwhile, I have been walking. Since August 2020 I have completed Race At Your Pace walking events each month. I had set my distance at 100 miles but felt that the time had come to push myself. I am very proud of having walked 125 miles in July 2021. I used my Fitbit to count and every step counted towards the goal. I will add a picture of my medal as soon as it arrives. I have signed up for another 125 miles in August, it is another beautiful medal.

August Race at Your Pace Medal which I hope to earn by walking 125 miles in August.

The main reason that I challenged myself to walk further in July was Operation Bletchley. This is a virtual fundraising event organised by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, and this was the third time I have taken part. This time it was three events in one and participants could choose Cairo (30 miles), London (50 miles) or Paris (100 miles). I decided to do all three.

For each challenge you have to walk the distance stated in order to deliver a coded message. The codes are received every 3, 5 or 10 miles depending on the challenge. For Cairo and London I only counted “walks” as tracked by MapMyFitness, but for Paris I counted every step as tracked by Fitbit.

Participants can choose to crack Junior, Codebreaker or Cypher Expert level codes. The tenth code for each uses the previous nine answers to get the final message. I won’t share the codes here but they will be available to purchase shortly. It has been a huge amount of fun, with help from my Mum on the codebreaking I managed all three distances, at all three levels. 90 codes in all. I have sent the Junior level codes onto my nieces and nephew to puzzle over during the summer holiday.

Sponsorship is open until the end of August 2021 so if you would like to sponsor me I would be very grateful.

Courses house history

What have I learned in June?

By 31st May my pass/fail assignments for the first module of the Strathclyde Post Graduate Certificate were out of the way and I focussed on all important Assessment 1. This consisted of a selection of census, birth, marriage, death and baptism records to be entered into Family Tree Maker to create various charts and reports. I had learned a lot from the similar 2nd assignment and I’m delighted to have scored 87% (Excellent) on the Assessment. I’m finished with the Strathclyde course until October now, but will continue reading from the reading lists as and when I have time. I am looking forward to having a bit more time for researching my own family tree.

I have begun the Pharos Intermediate Certificate which consists of 10 assessed modules. The modules can be taken in any order and I have begun with Alec Tritton’s course in employment records, so far we have learned about “the professions” and the merchant navy. This week is all about Government and Crown employees.

I am co-hosting a course in Irish Ancestors & Irish Lives for the Society of Genealogists, while I don’t have any Irish ancestry I feel having an overview of the records available will be helpful when researching for other people

June has also seen the FamilyTree House History summer series of lectures from which I have learned sufficient to continue researching both my own home and one or two others that I am looking into. On 19th June I enjoyed the Online Family History Show, and made time to catch up with the lectures I had to miss over the following few days. The following weekend was the Genealogy Show, but I was suffering the after effects of my second COVID jab and need to go back and listen to the talks.

I am starting to try to put together a business plan, in part because I would like to become an AGRA associate.

Course/WebinarSpeaker(s)OrganiserMy reflections
2 June
Irish Ancestors & Irish Lives
Session 1 – Introductory sweep of history / Census Records
Jill Williams & Rosalind McCutcheonSociety of GenealogistsI learned a lot, starting with the geographic structure of Ireland, beginning with townlands, which form parishes, counties etc. It is so sad that so many census records were destroyed, both deliberately and accidently. There are however alternatives, and those census records that do survive are often more useful than the English and Welsh versions.
3 June
A Virtual View: Online Sources
Cathy Soughton & Karen AverbyFamilyTreeA rapid view of various online sources for both information and pictures to be used in house history. I have bookmarked plenty of sites to come back to.
5 June
What Makes a Marriage ? – Rules & Records
Anthony MarrSociety of Genealogists This was a fascinating talk, from a former deputy registrar. He covered everything from the recent changes to marriage registration going back through the history of registration. We learned about what makes a valid marriage, and the pitfalls of believing everything written on a marriage certificate. Anthony mentioned that until relatively recently it was legal for a girl to marry from the age of 12 and boys from 13, but he had never seen a marriage certificate which gave an age of 12, 13, 14 or 15. I was quite pleased to be able to offer an example. See below.
9 June
Irish Ancestors & Irish Lives
Session 2 – Registry of Deeds / Newspapers
Jill Williams & Rosalind McCutcheon Society of Genealogists Wow! Another whistle stop tour through Irish records. A great tip for newspapers was to check free newspaper websites such as the Welsh National library collection, websites in the USA and overseas as many articles were copied into other newspapers for the Irish diaspora. The registry of deeds is a treasure trove of information and well worth exploring.
10 June
The Interwar House: From Tenant to Home Owner
Prof Deborah Sugg RyanFamilyTreeA wonderful summary of houses in the interwar period. Deborah provided some great resources for finding out more. Also pointing out that real homes weren’t show homes and would have many items from much earlier periods.
12 June
Keeping up to Date: Family History on the Internet
Ian WallerSociety of Genealogists Ian made a point that during the talk more data would be added to the internet. He also highlighted a few specific websites of use to family historians.
14 June
Getting Started: Website building 101
WordPressThis was a useful session to learn more about how to make the most of my WordPress site. I’ll be making a few changes to my blog here once I have digested everything.
16 June
Lunchtime Chat: Researching County Records at a Distance
Else ChurchillSociety of Genealogists These sessions are as much about socialising and “meeting” like minded people as they are learning. However, it was a useful session and I have found several new places to look online before needing to travel to an archive office.
16 June
Irish Ancestors & Irish Lives
Session 3 – 17th Century / Griffiths Valuation
Jill Williams & Rosalind McCutcheon Society of Genealogists The Griffiths Valuation appears to be a very useful resource for early Irish genealogy. Definitely one to be used more often.
17 June
How to Draw a Pedigree Using PowerPoint – Basic Demonstration 
Les MitchinsonThe Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical StudiesI had no idea that PowerPoint could be used this way. I’ll definitely be practising this before I join the Advanced session in a couple of weeks.
19 June
Using Wills and Administrations in Family History
Gill BlanchardThe Family History Show, OnlineA great reminder of how useful wills can be, and where to obtain them. Gill also added that Administrations can give important clues to family history even if there is much less detail than in a will.
19 June
The Basics of French Parish and Civil Registrations and Where to Find Them Online
Anne Morddel Society of Genealogists A thoroughly interesting talk. I was left wishing that I had some French ancestry to research, maybe one day for a client.
19 June
Solving Genealogical Puzzles with DNA
Donna RutherfordThe Family History Show, Online A great overview and reminder of how to solve genealogical problems, whether a foundling, adoption, or unexpected matches. Very useful.
19 June
Hidden in the small Print
Mia BennettThe Family History Show, Online Some great advice here, including to always look at original records not just transcriptions. Lots of details are often left out of transcriptions. Also looking at the neighbours on census returns, or other baptisms, weddings and burials that happened on the same day or close by can give clues to family research. Margin notes are often not transcribed and give useful family history information. Another suggestion was to always read the enumerators front page on census returns, it can give information about the area our ancestors lived and add colour to their day to day lives. Looking at census records and directories can suggest where our ancestors shopped for example.
23 June
Irish Ancestors & Irish Lives
Session 4 – 19th Century / Irish Poor in Britain
Jill Williams & Rosalind McCutcheon Society of Genealogists The Irish really do seem to have been treated badly by the UK Government even when they were p the same country.
26 June
Understanding and Using the 1939 Register
John Hanson Society of Genealogists Another really useful talk. I didn’t know that the different coloured inks on the corrections identified when they were made.
29 June
How to Draw a Pedigree Using PowerPoint – Advanced Demonstration 
Les Mitchinson The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies A really clear explanation of how to draw a well structured pedigree.
30 June
Irish Ancestors & Irish Lives
Session 5 – Emigration & Diaspora
Jill Williams & Rosalind McCutcheon Society of Genealogists The Irish having emigrated so much more than many other nationalities means that information can be found around the world, even about those that stayed at home.
Marriage certificate of my 3rd great grandparents. Marriages (CR) Duffield, RD Belper, Derbys[hire]. 18 April 1864. Samuel GREEN and Alice GREEN. Vol 7b p. 664.