1. Courses Coming in March

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    We have some great courses coming up for you in March:

    Practicalities of a One Name Study

    Tutor: Julie Goucher 
    Start date: 9th March 2021
    Course length: 5 weeks (4 teaching weeks and a reading / practice week)


    The course is designed to enable students to explore the practical steps of maintaining and developing their one-name study through a variety of mediums and to give some context to the various considerations they will need to explore.

    Lesson Headings:
    – Understanding and making the best use of spreadsheets in your study
    – Genealogical Software, what to consider
    – Online Trees and other software
    – The next steps: Preservation and Sharing

    Scottish Research Online

    Tutor: Chris Paton
    Start date: 1st March 2021
    Course length: 5 weeks

    Scotland was one of the first countries to digitise its major family history records collections for accessibility online, and continues to this day to use such resources to promote a worldwide interest in family history for those with Caledonian connections. This course describes the major sites and record types that you will encounter in your research, and how to analyse the results. Most importantly it will inspire you to actively pursue your interest in Scottish genealogy and take it to the next level.

    Wills and Administrations; the riches of probate records

    Tutor: Linda Newey
    Start date: 1st March 2021
    Course length: 4 weeks
    * FULLY BOOKED * Booking now for September 2021

    Advanced Methods and Reports

    Tutor: Karen Cummings
    Start date: 1st March 2021
    Course length: 4 weeks

    This course provides students with the techniques and tools to ensure the best possible evidence for their pedigrees and trees, and is suitable for hobby and professional genealogists alike.

    We look at problems of identity and interpretation, standards for evaluation and analysis, and how to build a case for proof. We will consider the display of charts and genealogy 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.

    Before the Modern Census – Name-rich sources from 1690 to 1837

    Tutor: Else Churchill
    Start date: 2nd March 2021
    Course length: 4 weeks

    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.

    Church and Community, Selected records 1540 – 1800

    Tutor: Emma Jolly
    Start date: 3rd March 2021
    Course length: 4 weeks

    Ickleton Parish ChurchThis course 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’ve found your ancestor in the parish registers, but was that parish rural or urban, a town or borough? How did that affect your ancestors’ lives and how will it affect your research? We look at the records of towns, such as burgess rolls, and the difficulties and pitfalls in tracing our early ancestors who migrated from rural areas / parishes to towns.

    You will learn about the many records of the diocese and its court, including visitation records, marriage licences and probate records. Also in this category are the records of disputes heard in the church or ecclesiastical courts, often know as bawdy courts due to the nature of cases they heard.

    Finally, we look at the records of boroughs in detail, including guilds, freemen, voting rights and merchant guilds.

    Are You Sitting Comfortably? Writing and Telling Your Family History

    Tutor: Janet Few
    Start date: 15th March 2021
    Course length: 5 weeks

    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.

    If you wish to receive feedback and assessment on your writing, there is the option to submit a piece of writing of up to 3,000 words for marking. The best of the class may even be published on this blog!

  2. Becoming a Professional Genealogist

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    Are you thinking of becoming a professional genealogist but don’t know where to start?

    We often receive questions from students who want to know what their next steps should be.

    They ask questions like:

    “Do I need a qualification to work as a professional genealogist?”
    “Do I need to become accredited?”
    “Are your courses accredited?”
    “Where do I start?” “Am I ready?”

    We have a great course that covers all of this:
    Professional Genealogist – Become one, become a better one

    The question of qualifications

    In the UK you don’t actually need any qualifications to set yourself up as a professional genealogist. You may think that’s a good thing, but isn’t it also a little scary? What would you look for in a professional genealogist?

    There are some great professional genealogists out there who have no genealogy-related qualifications, but they tend to be established in the field and have lots and lots of years of professionally varied experience.

    There are also a lot of “wannabie” professional genealogists starting out right now. How are you going to distinguish yourself from the rest? How are you going to demonstrate that you are working at the highest possible standards and are by far the better choice, compared to Mr X down the road? One of the best ways to do this is by following a formal training programme that is recognised by the industry.

    Our Advanced Certificate in Family History Skills and Strategies is a great example of a programme recognised by AGRA, the professional body for England and Wales.

    Aim for accreditation

    Working at the highest standards is all about providing the best quality of service to your clients. How do they know that the beautifully laid out family tree and 50 page report you have produced is not, in fact, riddled with errors? Organisations such as the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA) (with equivalents ASGRA in Scotland and AGI in Ireland) only grant full membership after assessment of examples of your professional work.

    Here are some of our top tips as you think about starting up:

    Be honest with yourself

    You have been working on your own family tree for years and have lots of experience but it is important to be honest with yourself about how much you know. We guarantee you don’t know everything yet.

    Be ethical

    Your clients will value honesty even if you can’t take every kind of job on right now. Don’t pretend to be an expert in things you are clearly not. Start small with the more common records and build up your knowledge.

    Be patient

    So, you’ve had some nice shiny business cards printed and your website has gone live. Surely now the queue of paying customers will begin to form? The harsh reality is no, it does take time and it takes longer than you think it might. Be patient and don’t give up!

    Next Steps

    If you are interested in becoming a professional genealogist and want to know more, take our Professional Genealogist – Become one, become a better one course. This four week online course covers everything from starting up in business, answering client enquiries and report writing, working out your rates and marketing.

    If you are looking for more detail on methodology and reporting try our Advanced Methods & Reports course (this is part of the Advanced Programme but can also be taken in isolation).

    If you are interested in taking a certificate programme in genealogy that is recognised by AGRA, see our Certificate Courses pages.