Course Descriptions

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Victorian Crime and Punishment- Courts, police and prisons (308)

Court records can provide a fascinating glimpse into the criminal lives our ancestors but crime is not the only topic covered in this course. There are records of juries, witnesses, licences for gamekeepers and pedlars plus records from the High Courts & Chancery where families squabble over inheritances and property. We also examine records of the new police force and the management of prisons. This course presents the background and the records, includes illustrations and case studies, and sets forth the best research methods, online and in archives. If your family tree lacks privileged ancestors it may have other well-documented ancestors - those who made their way into records of crime and punishment.

Tutor: Antony Marr
  • The 19th Century Legal System
  • Local Court Records
  • The High Court and Civil Litigation
  • From Parish Constable to Police Constable
  • Prisons and Punishment

Each lesson includes exercises and activities; a minimum of 1 one-hour chat session per week. See How the Courses Work.

Relevant Countries: England and Wales

Course Length: 5 weeks
Start Date: 26 Apr 2016
Unassessed Cost: £49.99 Course Full
Assessed Cost: £64.99 Course Full
Start Date: 04 Oct 2016
Unassessed Cost: £49.99

Assessed Cost: £64.99

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Introduction to One-Name Studies (901)

A one-name study is an exciting new journey into your surname’s past. It involves the collection of all the occurrences of a surname and biographical data about everybody who shares that surname. This course is an introduction to one-name studies, written with the guidance of the Guild of One-Name Studies and is suitable for all genealogists who have woken up to the knowledge that they have an interesting and unusual surname.

You will learn about the history and study of surnames; which surnames are suitable for a study, what a one-name study consists of, and how to get started. We cover how to collect and analyse data from the core records. You learn about all the practical aspects of running a one name study; collecting data, how to publicise your study, data protection, publish results and make sure your study is preserved for others in the future. You will also learn how the Guild of One-Name Studies guides and supports its members.

Non Guild members signing up for the course will get FREE Guild Membership for the remainder of the financial year.

Tutor: Helen Osborn
  • About One-Name Studies
  • Surnames and their History
  • Core Records you will need and Information gathering
  • Analysing and making sense of your data
  • Practical aspects of running your own One-Name Study

Each lesson includes exercises and activities; a minimum of 1 one-hour chat session per week See How the Courses Work.

STUDENTS SAID: "I thoroughly enjoyed the course" "I really enjoyed the Chats"

Relevant Countries: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales

Course Length: 5 weeks
Start Date: 04 May 2016
Cost: £49.99

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All About Parish Registers (115)

Parish registers, the records of baptisms, marriages and burials maintained by the Church of England, are the most important source for genealogists before civil registration began in 1837. Parish registers start as early as 1538 and continue in use today. They remain an important resource even after the start of civil registration because of the many missing civil records during the years from 1837 to 1874. The registers reveal most to those genealogists who know the most about them, their background and historical context, the legislation that affected the content, and the layout of the registers.

This course provides you with that knowledge. In the first lesson you will learn about the history of parish registers and the many formats in which they appear. More details on the specifics for baptism, marriage and burials, including how to find social status and occupational clues within the registers follows in the other two lessons using case studies. A separate handy section on old handwriting and Latin comes with Lesson Two. In the final lesson you will also learn how to bring everything together to construct a family tree. Throughout is discussion on how to access parish registers in various formats and use some of the key websites.

STUDENTS SAID "The course was packed full of useful hints and tips, I enjoyed the exercises."

Tutor: Karen Cummings
  • The history of parish registers
  • Using marriage registers, plus help with reading early records
  • Problem solving with baptisms and burial registers

Each lesson includes exercises and activities, and a minimum of 1 one hour chat session per week. See How the Courses Work.

Relevant Countries: England and Wales

Course Length: 3 weeks
Start Date: 06 May 2016
Cost: £34.99

Start Date: 04 Nov 2016
Cost: £34.99

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Apprenticeship Records (281)

Apprenticeship generated a range of records, most of which provide invaluable information for tracing family history. The practice of apprenticing young men to learn a trade is first recorded in twelfth and thirteenth century London. It gradually spread to many other towns and cities, and became subject to regulation. The Statute of Artificers 1563 required all tradesmen to serve an apprenticeship of at least seven years before they could trade. Provision for apprenticeship was also made under the Poor Laws. Parish overseers could bind children as young as six or seven to serve as apprentices until they were adults. Such bindings were supposed to ensure that children were taken care of at little cost to the parish. This course will familiarise you with apprenticeship records, and will explain how to find them. It will also give you a basic understanding of what being an apprentice meant in the period covered.

Tutor: Stuart A. Raymond
  • What was an Apprentice?
  • Reading & Interpreting Apprenticeship Indentures
  • Documents dependant on Apprenticeship Indentures
  • Pauper Apprentices

See How the Courses Work.

STUDENTS SAID: "Excellent lesson notes with relevant links and sources. The Exercises, Assessments and the Chat sessions were challenging, and reinforced the knowledge and skills acquired from the lessons themselves very effectively." "Another GREAT course ... thank you Stuart!"

Relevant Countries: England & Wales

Course Length: 4 weeks
Start Date: 11 May 2016
Unassessed Cost: £45.99 Course Full
Assessed Cost: £61.00 Course Full
Start Date: 10 May 2017
Unassessed Cost: £45.99

Assessed Cost: £61.00

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Researching Online for Advanced Genealogists (480)

This course is part of our Advanced Family History Skills and Strategies programme and will assume that you already have a good working knowledge of records and resources used in English and Welsh family history.

The internet is now an essential research environment for family history: many indexes to genealogical records are now available only online, and the internet provides access to a wealth of information and contacts for family historians. This course examines the main types of internet resource which are useful in carrying out research in English and Welsh family history and aims to improve your search skills so that you can be more confident with your search results.

You will discover the different types of internet resource useful for family history and appreciate their distinctive functions, their benefits and limitations. You will be introduced to a range of techniques for locating information both within genealogy sites and across the web. You will learn why it is so important to understand the differences between online indexes and the original records. Finally you will get to know the main resources for publishing and sharing pedigrees and your family history with others.

Tutor: Peter Christian
  • Lesson One: Resource Discovery
  • Lesson Two: Genealogical Records Online
  • Lesson Three: Online Pedigrees & Genealogical Contacts
  • Lesson Four: Reference Resources for Family History

See How the Courses Work.

Relevant Countries: England and Wales

Course Length: 4 weeks
Start Date: 11 May 2016
Unassessed Cost: £62 Course Full
Assessed Cost: £76 Course Full
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Scotland 1750 - 1850 - Beyond the OPRs (302)

This is an intermediate level course in Scottish family history for those who are going back beyond 1850. You should have some experience with research in the Old Parochial Registers of the Church of Scotland and in using major websites for Scottish research. This course discusses sources that fill the gap when the OPRs are uninformative or missing; for example, records of parish and town administration, occupations, land transfer and taxation. Using these records involves several different locations. You will learn how to check online finding aids and how to find the most effective way to obtain records that may be online, in print, on CD or microfilm. This is the second course on Scottish research. If you have not taken Scottish Reserach Online please check its description.

Tutor: Chris Paton
  • Kirk Sessions records and parish poor
  • Burgh records and town poor
  • Occupations, taxation and early lists
  • Land transfer and the value of sasines
  • Land, inheritance and estates

Each lesson includes exercises and activities; a minimum of 1 one-hour chat session per week. See How the Courses Work.

STUDENTS SAID: well structured chats with opportunities for questions as well

Relevant Countries: Scotland

Course Length: 5 Weeks
Start Date: 17 May 2016
Cost: £49.99

Start Date: 09 Nov 2016
Cost: £49.99

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Advanced One-Name Studies (902)

Take one-name study skills to new levels. Whatever drew you into the investigation of a surname you are now deeply immersed in gathering and analysing data. You have mastered the practical aspects of managing your project and are eager to turn your discoveries into something of lasting value.

Increasingly accepted by the academic world, one-name studies are growing up. Collecting and studying the origins of surnames using genealogy techniques is no longer only undertaken by family historians with personal problems to solve. All one-namers with a substantial collection of data are potentially in a position to shed new light on old historical problems. A one-name study provides the glue that melds together disciplines as diverse as population studies, place-names, etymology, as well as genealogy and local history. In this course, you will be shown how, with an interdisciplinary approach, your research and analysis has the potential to shed new light on the past and contribute to historical knowledge.

The course includes sections on the theory of one-name studies, a review of current published work on surnames, introduces more complex interdisciplinary analysis, and shows you how to bring your historical skills up to scratch. There is an emphasis on analysing data and synthesis or ‘adding value’ to your results, as well as working towards the publication of your findings.

The course assumes you are familiar with the material covered by Introduction to One-Name Studies (Pharos course 901). We strongly advise you to take course 901 before taking this course, even if your one-name study has been running for some time.

Students will normally have a registered One-Name Study with the Guild of One-Name Studies and should be familiar with the Guild’s seven pillars of wisdom. If you are not already a Guild member, please contact us for advice before paying for the course. Students should note that this course is not about how to do advanced genealogy research.

At the end of the course, those students who successfully complete a 2 – 3,000 word written article about one-name studies will be awarded the Guild Certificate of Attainment. The best articles will be submitted for publication in the Journal of One Name Studies.

Tutor: Helen Osborn
  • The One-Name Study theory and practice
  • Interdisciplinary studies – Acquiring the right skill set
  • Surname case studies – Learning from others
  • Synthesis – More than family history
  • Spread the Word – Get Published

This course contains Set Reading. See How the Courses Work.

STUDENTS SAID “ I absolutely loved this course and hope it becomes a Guild rite of passage. The support notes and the links were all great.”

Relevant Countries: General

Course Length: 6 weeks
Start Date: 01 Jun 2016
Unassessed Cost: £49.99

Assessed Cost: £59.99

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Researching Your Welsh Ancestors (119)

Wales is unique and Welsh research is different. Despite the fact that, by and large, Wales used the same legal and bureaucratic framework as England, the country's social, linguistic, cultural and religious fabric mean that a different kind of approach is necessary. The context of research is vitally important and there are difficulties, even for those who have a good level of knowledge and experience with family history research. The course therefore is aimed at those who have some basic knowledge of family history research in England and deals with those particular aspects of family history research in Wales which are different to that of England. For example, you will learn how linguistic, social and cultural factors shaped the day-to-day life of your ancestors and how they coloured the historical documents you will be consulting. You will also have the chance to study how Welsh nonconformity could affect your own research as well as where to locate and how to get the most out of specific Welsh sources and Welsh repositories. There is now a good range of sources for Welsh research on the Web and this course includes lots of advice on finding and using online information and data.

STUDENTS SAID "I had hoped for some time that Pharos would run a Welsh Ancestors course and I have not been disappointed. The course was absolutely magical in its content and far exceeded my expectations. I hadn't realised before, how complicated the Welsh history and culture was. It has certainly opened my eyes, has made me want to know more and made me realise why I may be experiencing some difficulties with my own Welsh research. Thank you Pharos and Eilir."

Tutor: Eilir Daniels
  • Key differences between Welsh & English research
  • The Welsh language, place names and surnames
  • Nonconformity in Wales
  • Occupations, migration and emigration
  • Sources and records specific to Wales

Each lesson includes exercises and activities; a minimum of 1 one-hour chat session per week. See How the Courses Work.

Relevant Countries: Wales

Course Length: 5 weeks
Start Date: 06 Jun 2016
Cost: £49.99

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Professional Genealogist - Become one, become a better one (941)

You can be a successful working genealogist. Whether you are already researching for clients or planning to do so, this 4 week course guides you through the professional skills that form the foundation for success. The course has been prepared in association with the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA). The course begins by stressing how professional research differs from personal research with the focus on standards for research, analysis and reporting. You learn what AGRA requires of its members and how to ensure you measure up. Equally important are the business skills that contribute to success. Topics in this segment of the course include advice on managing your office and UK regulations for the self-employed. Another section of the course presents a practical guide to marketing your business and yourself. We conclude with advice about the ways professional genealogists can stay current with new developments, including IT, and with advice on the advantages of diversifying into writing and lecturing.

Students should note that this course does not give guidance on advanced methods of research or records, and will assume you already have extensive research experience.

STUDENTS SAID "It focused directly on setting up a Genealogy Business. You can buy lots of material on setting up a business but it was brilliant to see this information directed specifically towards Genealogy. Excellent"

"Although the content looked as though it was simple and straightforward, it was presented in a way that broadened my view of the subject and made me rewrite my business plan."

"The emphasis on business skills was just right. The chat sessions were particularly interesting."

Tutor: Karen Cummings
  • What is Professionalism? Researching & Reporting
  • Business basics - Managing your office
  • Continuous Professional Development for Genealogists
  • Marketing the business, Marketing yourself

Each lesson includes exercises and activities; a minimum of 1 one-hour chat session per week. See How the Courses Work.

AGRA members should note that there is a discount for this course. Please contact us for your discount code!

Relevant Countries: British Isles

Course Length: 4 weeks
Start Date: 17 Jun 2016
Cost: £47.99

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Employment Records (380)

Find out about the working life of your ancestors. Records of employment can do two things; reveal important facts for furthering the genealogical information about a family and provide vivid details of the way your ancestors lived. Many documents uncovered during our research indicate an occupation, perhaps several in which our ancestor was employed. Many will have followed their father's trade or occupation, and their children will have followed them. Others will have broken away, perhaps from the land and headed for the town to learn new skills and enter a different trade. Those more fortunate, at least financially or by birth may have been destined for one of the professions. Records of employment will vary from the scant to the copious; much depends on the occupation. This 5 week course examines what is likely to be found in official and unofficial sources and where and how the information can be used as further insights into the lives and times of our ancestors.

Tutor: Alec Tritton
  • The Professions
  • Merchant Seamen and Coastguard
  • Government employees
  • Town folk
  • Country folk

Each lesson contains exercises and activities with a minimum of one hour chat per week. See How the Courses Work.

Relevant Countries: England and Wales

Course Length: 5 weeks
Start Date: 30 Jun 2016
Unassessed Cost: £49.99

Assessed Cost: £64.99

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One-Place Studies - Research from a New Perspective (317)

This course teaches you the basics of organizing a one-place study. It looks at a wide array of sources, some familiar, and some less so, and it shows you how to reconstruct the lives of people within the context of a community.

The picture we build of a place as family historians is a picture of that place in relation to our ancestors. In contrast, a one place study concentrates on the history of a place in relation to all those people who have lived there through time. In a one-place study you put genealogical methods to one side yet, ironically, by doing so you will usually achieve a better understanding of your ancestors and potentially solve some of your family history problems! There are few better ways of getting under the skins of our ancestors than a serious study of where and how they lived and a one-place study is guaranteed to provide you with a much better understanding of their lives. The records used in an OPS include many that are used by genealogists – church registers, censuses, voters lists, land records, tax lists, etc – but we use them in a different way.

Learn how to carry out a one-place study and discover how an unusual perspective and a totally different use of facts about people can open your eyes to a new appreciation of the past and new solutions for your research problems.

The course is aimed primarily at English and Welsh researchers, but does cover some Scottish and Irish sources. We recommend that you have some family history research experience before you take this course, at least in civil registration, census returns and parish registers, and that you have already taken a Pharos course at the 100 or 200 level.

Tutor: Celia Heritage
  • One-place study perspective: Building the background of your OPS
  • Core Records and Methods of Research
  • Fleshing out and presenting your study

Each lesson includes exercise and activities and a minimum of 1 one-hour chat session per week. See How the Courses Work.

STUDENTS SAID "A fascinating topic that I had never properly pursued before. More than anything the course has opened up my research in all areas of my family history and has really broadened my research horizons."

Relevant Countries: England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland

Course Length: 3 weeks
Start Date: 01 Jul 2016
Cost: £35.99

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So You Think You Know FamilySearch - A Guided Tour (206)

Discover what you don’t know about English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh resources at the FamilySearch website with the help of an experienced guide. Barbara Baker has worked in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City for more than 25 years and is an expert in FamilySearch resources. Since its beginning in 1998, FamilySearch.org has been a leading family history website on the Internet. The website provides access to many of the records, indexes and resources available at the Family History Library, which has one of the largest collections of published, microfilmed and digitized British and Irish records in the world. In recent years technological advances have made it possible for you to search and browse formerly inaccessible records, check geography and boundaries and obtain research advice anywhere, anytime. All this information is free to anyone with the knowledge and navigating skills to find it. This class guides you through the highways and byways of FamilySearch.org, offers tips about searching data and using the helps, and brings you to the point where you can say that you really know the FamilySearch website.

Tutor: Barbara H. Baker
  • Exploring British and Irish data using the ‘Search Records’ feature
  • Free help, tips and resources for British and Irish research
  • The British and Irish collection at the Family History Library
  • What’s New and What’s in the Works

See How the Courses Work.

STUDENTS SAID: "Barbara was so helpful and explained everything in a way which was easy to understand. She was so approachable."

Relevant Countries: England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland

Course Length: 4 weeks
Start Date: 12 Jul 2016
Cost: £39.99

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Before the Modern Census - Name-rich sources from 1690 to 1837 (381)

What do you do when the nominal census records that you have used so much are no longer there, when you cannot obtain names, ages, birthplaces and the household address of a family? And how do you supplement the deficiencies of parish registers?

Your attention should turn to a variety of lists which at least reveal where someone lived at a particular time. Though this seems scant information, such facts can be vitally important especially in those years when children were not born and christened.

Over four lessons you will learn about the introduction of newspapers, the earliest efforts at census taking, and what other records are considered to be useful census substitutes. Census substitutes are often quite local in scope and purpose. Many will be explained and advice will be given on how to search for local lists. You will come away with an understanding of how to make the most of census substitutes, some new online search skills, and an ability to assess and access these sources.

Tutor: Else Churchill
  • Different world, different sources
  • The first enumerations, 1801 - 1831
  • Landowners, Traders and Freemen
  • Census substitutes and name-rich lists

Each lesson includes exercises and activities; a minimum of 1 one-hour chat session per week See How the Courses Work.

STUDENTS SAID: "Well organised and so very interesting, so much new information for me." "Great course!"

Relevant Countries: England & Wales

Course Length: 4 weeks
Start Date: 25 Jul 2016
Unassessed Cost: £45.99

Assessed Cost: £61.00

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Maps and Surveys - Locating your Ancestors (320)

Learning about geography and location is vital to good genealogy. Whether your family lived in the same parish for generations, or moved around, the extra information that comes from maps and survey records adds wonderful context to your family history.

This five-week course shows you how to isolate where your ancestor lived using the maps & related surveys for the 1910 Land Value Duty (2nd Domesday Book); the 1836 Tithe Commutation Act and Enclosure Awards. Starting with a study of historical maps and online sources, the course moves on to examine each of the 3 map-based surveys using case studies to illustrate how each set of records can be used to locate families. The course finishes with links to contemporary records and case studies. Throughout the course, the emphasis is on locating records both on- and off-line and interpreting the documents you find.

Tutor: Janet Few
  • Lesson 1 - All about Maps - background history and online resources
  • Lesson 2 - The 1910 Land Values Duty Survey
  • Lesson 3 - The Tithe Map and Apportionment
  • Lesson 4 - The Enclosure Map and Award
  • Lesson 5 - Making links - contemporary records

See How the Courses Work.

Relevant Countries: England, Wales

Course Length: 5 weeks
Start Date: 08 Aug 2016
Cost: £49.99

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Scottish Research Online (102)

Scotland was first to have major records digitized and offer indexes and images online. It has also been a leader in placing resource information on the World Wide Web. This course describes the major sites, the types of information and data that they offer, the forms in which databases are presented and how to analyze results. You will learn to lay the foundations for searching a family, how to select best resources and what to do next either online or in libraries and archives.

Tutor: Chris Paton
  • Scotlands People, Family Search, Ancestry, FreeCen: content, comparison, assessment
  • Essential Maps and Gazetteers
  • Civil Registration and Census Research Online
  • Searching in Church of Scotland Registers Online
  • Scottish Wills and Inventories Online
  • Take It From Here

Note: it is recommended but not required that students in this course sign up for the basic search option, 30 units/seven days, at ScotlandsPeople (cost is seven pounds)

Each lesson includes exercises and activities; a minimum of 1 one-hour chat s See How the Courses Work.

STUDENTS SAID: "I particularly liked the fact that the course didn't just focus on the well-known BMD resources available, but on a much wider range of websites, including many which give extremely useful background information on the geography and history of the localities where our ancestors lived."

"a very knowledgeable Instructor"

Relevant Countries: Scotland

Course Length: 5 Weeks
Start Date: 06 Sep 2016
Cost: £49.99

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Organizing Your Genealogy (202)

As you research your family history, you collect information, charts, copies of records, notes, lists of sources searched, etc. Whether you are just starting your research or whether you have been at it a while, it is important to be organized and have a record keeping system. It should be easy to file and store information when you get it, and to find it long afterward. Good organization and record keeping will help you assess what you have, what you have learned, and what you need to learn. This three-week course is designed to help you get organized, stay organized and be ready for research online and on location by developing good record-keeping habits.

Tutor: Barbara H. Baker
  • Record Keeping Fundamentals
  • Setting Up Your System on Computer
  • Sources, Sources, Sources!

Each lesson includes exercises and activities; a minimum of 1 one-hour chat session per week. See How the Courses Work.

STUDENTS SAID: "This course more than fulfilled my expectations. It is true that genealogists tend to follow their own personal system. The three lessons on the course (one each week) ensures that class members are given excellent examples of different systems, together with contributions, advice and ideas all mooted on the forum and chat room sessions from all concerned. Record keeping; using computers and various programmes; useful websites; dealing with sources and citations - which from a personal point of view turned out to be the most important aspect of all."

Relevant Countries: General

Course Length: 3 Weeks
Start Date: 08 Sep 2016
Cost: £34.99

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The National Archives Website and Catalogue - Finding People (207)

The National Archives' website and catalogues describe more than 20 million documents, and can lead you to information about individual ancestors.

UK Government records, held at The National Archives (TNA), are a leading resource for genealogists. These are the historical records of a nation through more than a thousand years. They include documents about all parts of the British Isles and all parts of the world where the government had its agents, colonial officials or military forces. Even if you cannot visit TNA in person, there is much to be gained from using TNA online. The lessons cover how to find the most genealogically valuable records and how to search for individuals. You learn what to do next, once you find an interesting listing, and how to discover useful background details about the records. The key to achieving this is navigation skill and you are shown how to navigate around the website. The emphasis is on remote access, how anyone, living anywhere, can make the most of The National Archives website and catalogues.

Tutor: Guy Grannum
  • An introduction to TNA's online resources
  • Using TNA's new Catalogue Discovery
  • Widening your search: TNA's other useful catalogues

Each lesson includes exercises and activities; a minimum of 1 one-hour chat session per week. See How the Courses Work.

STUDENTS SAID: "I enjoyed the group participation particularly. The course material was excellent." "It opened up new avenues of investigation within the website which I had not realised were there."

Relevant Countries: British Isles

Course Length: 3 Weeks
Start Date: 10 Sep 2016
Cost: £34.99

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The Poor, The Parish and The Workhouse (203)

This course is currently under development and these details may be subject to slight change.

‘The poor are always with us’ was a common lament of the charitably minded Victorians. When we think about our pauper ancestors we conjure up pictures of forbidding workhouses and Oliver Twist asking for more. But the position was rather more complicated as you will discover when you join this course. During the four weeks it runs we will examine the causes of poverty, how the poor were looked after, and the records that were created as a result.

Careful records about the poor and the money which was spent on them are invaluable to family historians not only for what they reveal about those receiving assistance but about the local people who paid the rates and made the system work. The course explains how poor relief evolved, functioned and the records that were created as a result. You will learn how to use the records, how they can solve genealogical problems and the fascinating, if often tragic, insights they offer into the lives of your ancestors. An increasing amount of material is online, but not anything by any means.

The course is for anyone searching poor law records for the first time or wanting to build on existing knowledge.

Tutor: Simon Fowler
  • Who were the Poor: background and basic resources online and offline
  • The Old Poor Law
  • The New Poor Law after 1834 and the Workhouse
  • Self help and Philanthropy

Each lesson includes exercises and activities; a minimum of 1 one-hour chat session per week. See How the Courses Work.

Relevant Countries: England, Wales

Course Length: 4 Weeks
Start Date: 16 Sep 2016
Unassessed Cost: £45.99

Assessed Cost: £61.00

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Are You Sitting Comfortably? Writing and Telling Your Family History (216)

Writing your family history is the logical step after genealogical research, and sometimes while research is still in progress. To avoid gathering dust, a family story must be written to appeal to a broad spectrum of relatives and readers, to answer questions of relationships and to stimulate the sharing of knowledge. The history of a family blends a range of information: the ancestors and their stories, the places they knew, and the context of contemporary conditions and event. A good story, based on sound research, is a focal point of a family re-union, and it makes a great gift.

This five-week course begins with advice on making decisions about what to write about, and what to include, and how to make some order out of the potential chaos of information. It goes on to discover the historical context and how to add interest into your story with background about what was happening nationally and locally and how this might have affected your ancestors. It looks at how knowledge about occupations can bring an ancestor to life, and how and why social history helps you to make sense of it all and frame your story. Finally in week five, you will discover how to add photos and other illustrations as well as options for publishing. This course is about acquiring skills that will help you to present your family history in a coherent and interesting way. Please do not expect to complete a full family history by the end of five weeks. Note that, if you are hoping to put some of the ideas into practice within the time-frame of the course, this may significantly increase the study time that you will need to set aside.

The course is relevant to anyone who has researched a British or Irish family, with examples taken from English history and records but the techniques can be applied to families from elsewhere as well.

Tutor: Janet Few
  • Lesson One: Making Decisions
  • Lesson Two: Finding Context Part 1
  • Lesson Three: Finding Context Part 2
  • Lesson Four: Social History
  • Lesson Five: Illustrating and Publishing

See How the Courses Work.

Relevant Countries: General

Course Length: 5 weeks
Start Date: 28 Sep 2016
Cost: £49.99

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Old Handwriting for Family Historians (417)

This course is part of our Advanced programme. There are a limited number of places available for those who are not taking the whole programme of advanced study.

Old handwriting, or palaeography, often presents difficulties for family historians. This course takes a practical approach to reading and transcribing Secretary Hand which was a commonly used form during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Family historians will come across Secretary Hand in many types of documents such as parish registers and wills and inventories. The course aims to equip students with their own set of steps to successful transcription, as well as provide insights into the development of Secretary Hand.

The course is an advanced course working with documents from the 17th century and is most suitable for all those who already have some understanding and practice with old handwriting in their own family history research.

STUDENTS SAID "The documents used for practice were varied and lots of useful tips were given. The internet links will be very useful for future practice"

Tutor: Helen Osborn
  • Introduction to Handwriting & Transcription
  • Secretary Hand
  • Transcribing Wills and Inventories
  • Parish records, deeds and abbreviations

Each lesson includes exercises and activities; a minimum of 1 one-hour chat session per week. NOTE: Students are asked to purchase A Secretary Hand ABC Book by Alf Ison, which is available from the online bookshops of The National Archives and the Society of Genealogists. See How the Courses Work.

Students receive one-to-one help and there is therefore a strict limit on the number of students we can accept on this course.

Relevant Countries: General

Course Length: 4 weeks
Start Date: 01 Oct 2016
Cost: £62.00
Course Full
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Nonconformity - Its Records and History 1600 - 1950 (280)

Nothing in the Church of England register – this genealogical challenge is the most likely impetus for an interest in the records of non-conformist chapels. When census takers asked about attendance at church in 1851 they discovered that less that half the population were sitting in Church of England pews. If you examine the numbers you will see that a large percentage of those worshipping elsewhere were nonconformists. This course is about the records and history of nonconformity. It covers its origins, the early history and records during the period of persecution. The major denominations in the 18th and 19th centuries, such as Methodist and Congregational, are discussed and their records and finding aids are explained. Social context is an important part of the story and you will learn about the people who were nonconformists, how they governed their churches, and how their faith affected their lives. Records covered in the course include vital records, seating plans, meetings, newspapers, missions and accounts. In addition you will learn about finding nonconformists within the registers of the Established Church.

Tutor: Alec Tritton
  • Origins and Early Restrictions 1600 - 1700
  • Nonconformity Becomes Established 1700 - 1850
  • Consolidation 1750 - 1900
  • Social and Mission 1850 - 1950

Each lesson includes exercises and activities, and minimum of 1 chat session per week. See How the Courses Work.

Relevant Countries: England and Wales

Course Length: 4 weeks
Start Date: 13 Oct 2016
Unassessed Cost: £45.99

Assessed Cost: £61.00

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Researching in Archives for Advanced Genealogists (481)

This course is part of the Family History Skills and Strategies Advanced programme. It is currently being prepared and this is a brief description only.

You will learn about the record-keeping framework in England and Wales and be introduced to the cataloging process and the way archives are arranged and described. You will learn where to find national, local and specialist collections, and recognize which repository or archives is the most likely custodian, and how to plan your research day in the archives to make the best use of your time.

You will be introduced to conservation and access issues for fragile documents. You will also be encouraged to visit an archive in person, call up and handle original documents and do some research.

Tutor:

See How the Courses Work.

Relevant Countries: England, Wales

Course Length:
Start Date:  Oct 2016
Cost: £
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Manorial Records for Family and Local Historians (401)

This course is part of our Advanced programme. There are some places available to students not wishing to take the full advanced programme of study. You may choose to have feedback on your work, or to join in without an assessment.

Over five weeks, this course examines the place of the manor in the legal and social system, the records created by the manor, and changes that occurred through the centuries. The manorial system was a framework for people’s lives in England and Wales for hundreds of years, enduring well into the 19th century in some areas, and not finally abolished until the 20th century. Manorial records can be used to locate people within a community and to set them in their social and economic context. Historians are only now recognising the importance of the post medieval manor and family historians have not exploited them in the most useful ways either.

You will get to understand the complexities as well as the background historical context, and how local customs can differ from place to place. You will read court rolls, look at court books and learn about property transactions, surveys, maps, accounts and even people’s wills that may not be recorded elsewhere. Manorial court records offer genealogists and local historians more than just a glimpse of local justice being dispensed. You will be taught to search for and locate manorial records with confidence and understand how to use them to solve genealogical problems. Many records are in Latin and although this course does not teach Latin, it does provide strategies for getting to grips with the records with key words and phrases.

Tutor: Ian H. Waller
  • History and development of the manorial system
  • People and their roles
  • Records of the Manor Courts
  • Farming the estate - Surveys, Maps and Rentals
  • Demise of the manorial system

Each lesson includes exercises and activities and a minimum of 1 one-hour chat session per week. See How the Courses Work.

Relevant Countries: England and Wales

Course Length: 5 weeks
Start Date: 04 Nov 2016
Unassessed Cost: £65

Assessed Cost: £79

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World War Research (225)

Almost everybody has ancestors and family who fought in the two world wars. This three-week course will help you find out about their service whether they spent their time in a cookhouse at Catterick or, in Winston Churchill’s words” at the sharp end”.

We look at online resources available from The National Archives, the commercial data providers, and those maintained by enthusiasts. Offline, we examine original records at Kew and consider resources available at the Imperial War Museum and other military museums across Britain, as well as how best to use these records. Women’s war service records are included and records for men from the Dominions who came to the aid of the Mother Country during both world wars. This course will answer your questions about: service records, where to find them and how to interpret them; medal records, including how to discover more about why they were awarded; casualty records, including researching how and why a man lost his life and also operational records, which give you a good idea of a man’s career in the services.

Two of the three weeks will be spent looking at the major resources for the First World War and suggesting alternatives where there are gaps in the records. The last lesson will concentrate on the Second World War, where there are many records which are rarely used by family historians. For both conflicts research strategies will be offered, together with tips to speed your research along.

Tutor: Simon Fowler
  • WWI – The basics: Service records, Medal cards, Resources online, The Fallen
  • WWI – Advanced: War diaries, RAF, Royal Navy, Women, Commonwealth
  • WWII – How to use the records: Service records, Medals, Operational records, the Home Front

Each lesson includes exercises and activities; a minimum of 1 one-hour chat session per week. See How the Courses Work.

STUDENTS SAID "I very much enjoyed the chat sessions and learned a lot through them. I found the practical exercises very helpful to reinforce the information I had read."

"I enjoyed the whole course. I was especially interested in world war one and enjoyed reading the lesson notes for this part as well as attempting to do the associated exercises."

Relevant Countries: Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada

Course Length: 3 weeks
Start Date: 11 Nov 2016
Cost: £34.99

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Victorian Families - Your Ancestors in the Census (208)

Victorian ancestors - we all have them but what do we really know about them? Facts from civil registration and the census tell us something, but say little about how they lived. This course takes you beyond the facts and explains what census records reveal. The census is a window on the Victorian family and this course helps you take a closer look at life - in fashionable streets, back alleys and the countryside, in large houses, town houses, cottages and tenements. It looks too at food, work, fun, life and death. You will learn to interpret what you have found, get to know your ancestors better, and realize the genealogical value of a close acquaintance with past lives.

Tutor: Malcolm Sadler
  • A closer look at the census - finding your family
  • Investigating the neighbourhood - putting your family on the map
  • Inside the Victorian house - family life in the 19th century
  • The Victorian Environment - from slums to palaces
  • Knowing them better and taking it further

Each lesson includes exercises and activities; a minimum of 1 one-hour chat session per week. See How the Courses Work.

STUDENTS SAID: "I really enjoyed the course"

"Enjoyable, well-run and useful chat sessions"

Relevant Countries: England, Wales

Course Length: 5 weeks
Start Date:  Nov 2016
Cost: £49.99
Start Date Available Soon
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Advanced Methods and Reports (482)

This course is part of our Family History Skills and Strategies Advanced programme. It is currently being developed and this is a brief description only.

The course will be of use to amateur and professional genealogists alike. It aims to give you advanced techniques and tools as used by good genealogists to ensure they have the best possible evidence for their pedigrees and trees. We look at problems of identity and interpretation, standards for evaluation and analysis, and how to build a case for proof.

The course will also introduce the display of charts and narrative research reports, showing the conventions and standards that are used and that enable written research to be of a high scholarly standard. Students will also practise writing short research reports to a professional standard.

There is a set book for this course: H Osborn, Genealogy: Essential Research Methods (Hale, 2012)

Tutor: Helen Osborn

See How the Courses Work.

Relevant Countries: England, Wales and General

Course Length: 4 weeks
Start Date:  Nov 2016
Unassessed Cost: £62.00 Start Date Available Soon
Assessed Cost: £76.00 Start Date Available Soon
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Ireland- Further Steps in Family History (333)


**This course is being updated and will be available soon.**

Taking Irish research back beyond 1800 involves not only a careful review of all work done in the records described in Ireland: A Practical Approach to Family History, but a need to investigate Irish land records.

This course presents the major records of land ownership, land transfer, and taxation. It begins wuth a review of nineteenth century valuations and goes on to describe the purposes and contents of estate records, deeds, encumbered estate papers, and other sources. You will learn how to locate and access the records. Whether or not your ancestors were landlords, estate managers, tenants, renters or labourers there is something of value within land records. This course begins your investigation of an essential source for further research into your Irish ancestors.

Tutor: Sherry Irvine
  • Lesson One - Review, Context and New Resources
  • Lesson Two - Eighteenth Century Records: Focus on Estates
  • Lesson Three - Seventeenth Century Records: Challenges for Research

See How the Courses Work.

Relevant Countries: Ireland

Course Length: 3 weeks
Start Date:   2016
Cost: £34.99
Start Date Available Soon
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Church and Community, Selected records 1540 - 1800 (485)

This course is part of our Advanced programme, for further details please use the Enquire button below. The course builds on the knowledge you will already have gained about the parish and its records, both parish registers and records from the parish chest as well as records from the town, such as burgess rolls. It gives you the tools to understand the nature, jurisdictions and administrations under which different types of community existed in the past, and seeks to bring genealogy and local history closer together.

You will learn about the diocese and its records, including the church courts, how the early parish used tithes to provide for the clergy and the difficulties and pitfalls in tracing our early ancestors who migrated to towns. Example documents from early time periods will be analysed for their use to family historians.

There is a set book for this course: Angus Winchester, Discovering Parish Boundaries (Shire, 2000). Students should make sure that they have access to the book.

Tutor: Emma Jolly
  • Introduction to Communities in the Past
  • Details of Parish Life
  • The Diocese and Church Court
  • City and Borough

See How the Courses Work.

Relevant Countries: England and Wales

Course Length: 4 Weeks
Start Date: 04 Jan 2017
Unassessed Cost: £62

Assessed Cost: £76

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17th Century Sources (382)

Students completing this course will gain a broad understanding of the problems encountered when researching in 17th century records. They will be able to locate indexes and finding aids, document copies and transcripts, and original records. In addition, they will appreciate the research value and practical application of the information found. The course gives significant emphasis to local and regional differences within records as well as to historical context. For genealogists the 17th century presents new challenges. These are not discouraging – if anything, challenges add interest and enthusiasm to research. Historically it is a fascinating period, and genealogically some familiar records continue to be used so the research is not with entirely new material. Themes within the course include: the structure of a gentry dominated society, the records created by 17th century civil and ecclesiastical government, and the problems created by the "Commonwealth Gap". Sources for 17th century research are found in many formats, from original documents to print to microform to digital. This course presents 21st century techniques for finding ancestors in Stuart England and Wales and teaches record interpretation, analysis and planning.

Tutor: Stuart A. Raymond
  • Records of Birth, Marriage and Death: Registers, transcripts, visitations and more
  • Locating People Using 17th Century Lists
  • Church and Civil Court Records: including crime, disputes, land and probate
  • The Civil War and Commonwealth: Problems and possibilities for research

Each lesson includes exercise and activities and a minimum of 1 one hour chat session per week. See How the Courses Work.

Relevant Countries: England & Wales

Course Length: 4 weeks
Start Date: 12 Jan 2017
Unassessed Cost: £45.99

Assessed Cost: £61.00

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Introduction to Medieval Genealogy (501)

Don’t stop tracing your family once you have exhausted the parish registers. It is possible to trace lines back beyond the 1500s, and this course outlines some of the ways that you can break into medieval genealogy. It will help you create the foundations for researching medieval records, describe the nature of medieval records, on-line locations and finding guides that can improve your chances of finding direct or probable relations. It will also help you understand the geographical and political landscapes of medieval England, including general histories and the key events which generated records.

Topics covered include using medieval pedigrees, heralds visitations and how to prove (or disprove) the genealogies given by using inquisitions post mortem, feet of fines, chancery and other government records as well as taxation, church and military records. It is possible to find a foothold into medieval genealogy using many Tudor and Stuart records; you will be shown ways in which you can push the boundaries further back. Many medieval records were written in medieval Latin and medieval French, but do not panic! In this introductory overview of medieval genealogy we will concentrate on the most accessible sources, gaining contextual background to understand medieval society and the nature of medieval records; how they were put together, and their limitations. Whilst this course is intended to be an introduction to medieval genealogy, it will depend on the family history research you have already completed in the 16th and 17th centuries, so if you are beginning your genealogical journey perhaps this course is one for the future.

Tutor: Gillian Waters
  • Starting out on Medieval Research- identifying families to track
  • Planning the move to Medieval Records-getting to grips with medieval pedigrees
  • Records of the Landed Classes- the structure of medieval society and the meanings of terminology
  • Reading week- a chance to do some background research
  • Medieval Church records, Military records and Taxation

Each lesson contains exercises and activities and a minimum of one hour chat session per week. See How the Courses Work.

STUDENTS SAID "Some of the examples in the lessons were very interesting. It was most helpful to have to sketch out a research plan."

"A lot of information and MANY useful links and sources given."

Relevant Countries: England

Course Length: Equivalent to 5 weeks
Start Date:  Jan 2017
Cost: £62.00
Start Date Available Soon
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Migration in the British Isles (314)

Your ancestors moved about. Long before canals and railways some moved long distances, usually on foot. Most people moved within their own regions, seldom more than 20 miles in any direction. Seemingly unsolvable research problems may be resolved by studying causes and patterns of migration, both local and national, around the location where your genealogical trail stops. Around three themes – steam, disaster, people – this course introduces you to migration history, offers advice on expanding your knowledge and help with solving problems, the emphasis on those records that were likely to “catch” migrants.

Tutor: Helen Osborn
  • Steam: The impact of industry and railways
  • Disaster: the impact of bad weather, famine, conflict, and economic depression
  • People: law makers, local officials, labourers, entrepreneurs and dreamers

Each lesson includes exercises and activities and a minimum of 1 one-hour chat session per week. See How the Courses Work.

STUDENTS SAID “it made me think outside the box to find that elusive ancestor”

Relevant Countries: England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland

Course Length: 3 weeks
Start Date: 24 Feb 2017
Unassessed Cost: £34.99

Assessed Cost: £49.99

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Wills and Administrations; the riches of probate records (205)

Wills are an often overlooked source of information for family history research. However, they can be the richest of documents, confirming family relationships, providing insight into social status and sometimes revealing multiple generations of one family. This course will take you step by step through the various probate documents available, such as wills, administrations and death duty registers, and explain the differences in the probate systems before and after 1858. You will learn how to search for wills and administrations, including practical examples, how to extract the most genealogically useful information and how to apply your findings to other family history research.

This course is currently being prepared and will next run in Spring 2017.

Tutor: Karen Cummings

Each lesson includes exercises and activities; a minimum of 1 one-hour chat session per week. See How the Courses Work.

STUDENTS SAID:

Relevant Countries: England, Wales

Course Length: 4 Weeks
Start Date:  Apr 2017
Unassessed Cost: £45.99
Assessed Cost: £61.00
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Deeds and Disputes (502)

The courts of equity and particularly Chancery contain a wealth of material for the family historian, yet perceived difficulties in accessing the original records which are held at The National Archives, and in reading and interpreting them mean that they are relatively little used. This course aims to explain how to get to grips with Chancery cases from the end of the Tudor period right up to the start of the 19th century. Interwoven is information about title deeds to land and property, since so many Chancery disputes centre around property and a knowledge of deeds is essential for the interpretation of many Chancery cases.

The first part of the course will concentrate on Title Deeds, so that when it comes to looking at Chancery cases the student will have a good working knowledge and understanding of the type of documents that are the subject of so many disputes.

The second part of the course will be a study of Chancery court records. Reference will be made to the title deeds that have been studied in part one, but the course will also cover the many other subjects of dispute.

At the end of the course students will have a good understanding as to how title deeds and Chancery records can be so valuable to a family or local historian; the sort of information that can be found in them, where to find them and how to interpret them.

This course is part of our Advanced programme of courses and good palaeographical skills for the periods covered are assumed. A knowledge of Latin, while helpful for some title deeds, is not essential.

Tutor:
  • Simple Title Deeds
  • More Challenging Title Deeds
  • Introduction to Chancery Records
  • Chancery Bills and Answers
  • Other documents in Chancery

See How the Courses Work.

Relevant Countries: England, Wales

Course Length: 4 weeks
Start Date:  May 2017
Cost: £62.00
Start Date Available Soon
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Your Military Ancestors (224)

Just about everyone with British or Irish roots can find a soldier or sailor on their family tree. As a result, military records are some of the most used by genealogists. In addition, there are many sources which can provide background to flesh out your ancestor’s forces service. This course guides students through sources at The National Archives, at local archives and military museums, and an increasing number of online resources. In particular we will consider the service records for both officers and other ranks that can provide vital genealogical facts and a wealth of helpful detail that can take your research back into the 18th century and help reveal the life of your military ancestors. The lessons cover what records exist, how to combine records to best effect, and what you can expect to discover about your military ancestors.

Tutor: Simon Fowler
  • British Army pre-1914
  • Royal Navy pre-1914
  • The two World Wars
  • Online resources

Each lesson includes exercises and activities; a minimum of 1 one-hour chat session per week. See How the Courses Work.

STUDENTS SAID: "I would recommend this style of teaching to anyone"

Relevant Countries: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, Canada

Course Length: 4 Weeks
Start Date:   2017
Unassessed Cost: £45.99 Start Date Available Soon
Assessed Cost: £61.00 Start Date Available Soon
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Tracing Beneficiaries and Living Relatives - A Step by Step Guide (741)

When you have to administer an estate, the process can be more complicated and cost more if you also need to trace a missing beneficiary. Sometimes the value of the legacy or estate does not merit hiring a genealogist or a specialist probate genealogy firm to trace them.

This course, designed specifically for solicitors, executors and legal staff, but also relevant to anybody wishing to trace living relatives, takes you through the basics of finding named beneficiaries and proving family connections where there is no will. It will cover easy, low cost sources and methods, where to access records (both online and historical) and advice on building a family tree. You will be shown how to present your evidence and advised how best to make an approach to possible beneficiaries. The course concentrates on resources for locating people in England & Wales, although some advice for the rest of the UK will also be included. The course will not teach you how to be an “heir hunter” or give any instruction on how to administer unclaimed estates advertised by the Treasury, but it does show you some of the techniques that heir hunters use to locate people.

A basic understanding of family history research will help you but is by no means essential as all resources and procedures will be explained. Some websites and databases in the course are subscription only or will require a fee.

Tutor: Karen Bali
  • The Basics of Probate Research
  • Civil Registration Records
  • Electoral Registers, Wills and Credit Databases
  • Online Historical Resources
  • Practicalities and Pitfalls

See How the Courses Work.

Relevant Countries: England & Wales

Course Length: 5 weeks
Start Date:   2017
Cost: £54.99
Start Date Available Soon
Enquire about this course




 

 


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