1. NEW Courses: Scottish Ancestral Crisis, Critical Thinking Methods and Migration

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    We have two brand new tutor-led courses for you this month, brought to you by Chris Paton and Sophie Kay.

    The first of our new courses looks at Scottish research from the perspective of ancestors in crisis:

    Researching Scottish Ancestral Crisis

    Chris Paton

    As in our own lives, many of our Scottish ancestors had to overcome great adversity on occasions to simply make it through the day. Illness, death, bigamy, abandonment, accidents, eviction, victimhood, ethnic cleansing, and so much more – a dramatic range of experiences across a series of lifetimes. And whenever such crises emerged, somebody was usually close to hand with a quill and ink to bear witness. In so doing, a great documentary legacy was created that can greatly help us to understand the true lives of our forebears, and the struggles that led to who we became today.

    This course will reveal the many areas of Scottish ancestral hardship that have been documented over the last few centuries, and explore how to access the relevant records. It follows on from two previous Pharos courses, Scottish Research Online, which explores websites offering some of the more basic records for Scottish research, and Scotland 1750: Beyond the Old Parish Registers, which takes students to more advanced records found offline and online, and which flags up the importance of using catalogues. Although not compulsory, it is recommended that both courses are completed prior to studying Researching Scottish Ancestral Crisis.

    Researching Scottish Ancestral Crisis is Booking NOW.

    Our second brand new course comes from Sophie Kay and looks at a number of critical thinking approaches.

    Critical Thinking Approaches for Genealogy

    Sophie KaySome of you may have seen Sophie speak on one of her critical thinking approaches already: the Negative Space approach. In this course the family history research process is examined from start to finish, seeing how critical thinking has a role to play at every turn. Historical evidence is placed centre-stage and a range of analysis techniques are used to guide towards a considered, thorough research narrative.

    Subjects covered include the Perspective Pyramid for researching at different scales (e.g. individual, family, branch), the Negative Space approach for analysing research gaps, the timebinding method for reconciling the different stages of an ancestors life, and the topping-and-tailing strategy for use with migratory ancestors. This is combined with core skills such as developing research questions and performing effective searches and hands-on experience of the Genealogical Proof Standard.

    Critical Thinking Approaches for Genealogy is Booking NOW.

    And in case you missed it:

    Elusive Ancestors: Migration within the British Isles

    Announced earlier this month in our newsletter is a brand new course on migration in the British Isles, written and taught by Janet Few.

    Janet FewAs family historians, we all encounter elusive family members. They appear as if from nowhere or they disappear without trace, leaving no death or burial record. Then there are those who vanish from view for decades, only to re-emerge later. Often the problem is created because an individual has changed their location. This course suggests strategies that you can use to try to track down ancestors who moved within the British Isles.

    The course will begin by investigating the reasons why people of the past changed their location, touching on some of the theories of migration, and look at many of the occupations which often led to a move. In the second part of the course students will consider the benefits of studying the extended family and others in the neighbourhood when trying to track down an elusive ancestor. In addition, each lesson will have a focus on tracking down a different type of record.

    Elusive Ancestors: Migration within the British Isles is also Booking NOW.

  2. Courses coming in February and March 2022

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    There are lots of courses starting in February and March, including Scottish records, writing up your family history and getting practical with your one name study.

    Scottish Research Online

    Tutor: Chris Paton
    Start date: 28th February 2022
    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.

    Lesson Headings:
    Understanding Scotlands People, FindmyPast, Family Search, Ancestry, and FreeCen
    * Essential Maps and Gazetteers
    * Civil Registration and Census Research
    * Searching in Church of Scotland Registers
    * Scottish Wills and Inventories
    * Take It From Here

    Wills and Administrations; the riches of probate records

    Tutor: Linda Newey
    Start date: 21st February 2022
    Course length: 4 weeks
    COURSE FULL but booking now for September 2022

    Victorian Crime and Punishment – Courts, police and prisons

    Tutor: Dave Annal
    Start date: 23rd February 2022
    Course length: 5 weeks
    COURSE FULL but booking now for June 2022

    Advanced Methods and Reports

    Tutor: Karen Cummings
    Start date: 28th February 2022
    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: 1st March 2022
    Course length: 4 weeks
    COURSE FULL but booking now for July 2022

    Local History – Uncovering the Places and Communities connected to your Ancestors

    Tutor: Joe Saunders 
    Start date: 7th March 2022
    Course length: 4 weeks
    COURSE FULL. New date coming soon.

    Are You Sitting Comfortably? Writing and Telling Your Family History

    Tutor: Janet Few
    Start date: 14th March 2022
    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.This course is about acquiring skills that will help you to present your family history in a coherent and interesting way.

    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.

    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. You will have two months after the course finishes, before this needs to be sent to the tutor.

    STUDENTS SAID: “The course has provided me with everything I could possibly need (and more) to sort out my main goals of prioritising family history, research, recording and writing up the stories during the coming year and beyond. I now know the way ahead and am very much looking forward to putting my plans into action.”

    Practicalities of a One Name Study

    Tutor: Julie Goucher
    Start date: 15th March 2022
    Course length: 5 weeks (4 lessons)

    This course sits between the two other one-name and surname study courses: Introduction to One-Name Studies (901) and Advanced One-Name Studies (902) and focusses on the practical elements of running a study.

    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.

    It is expected that students for this course will already have a one-name study or surname study registered, or will have identified a surname to register and begin working upon. They will be familiar with the material covered by Introduction to One-Name Studies and will have begun to collect data, or be at the stage where they are considering the options and would like further guidance.

    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

    That’s all for this month, happy studying!