What’s in a name? Your family through the ages
The course is intended to be a relaxed and informal introduction to genealogy – with audience participation. It is aimed at complete beginners interested in understanding the richness and depth of the topic. It will be based around a presentation in the first half of the session, followed by a ‘workshop’ carrying out simple (entirely voluntary!) exercises aimed at facilitating understanding, discussion, and mutual help amongst the group members. Tasks to carry out at home will be suggested. Access to computers at home would be helpful, but the course will not require it. Maximum benefit from the course will be obtained from those investigating their families whilst the course is running. No equipment necessary apart from brain, paper and pencil!
Week 1 Course overview and scope: what is genealogy, types of family tree, and the different approaches needed for different eras. The relevance of history to understanding family trees. Types of family tree. 'Tools of the Trade' - computers, computer software and applications, 'search engines' - usefulness and limitations. Using data, organising your personal data archive and recording the current generation. Week 2 Working with generations since the last published census for 1911. Family graves, military and war records, birth, marriage, and death certificates. The importance of recording oral history. Week 3 Working with the eight published British censuses 1841 - 1911. Differences in the censuses, the information recorded, and methodologies applied. Errors in census transcriptions, missing people. Newspapers, trade directories and gazetteers. Week 4 The years before censuses - parish records, wills, bonds of administration, acts of Parliament, and court cases. The description of relationships. The National Archive, county Record Offices and other sources of information. Reading and transcribing old English script, common letter forms, punctuation, abbreviations etc. Week 5 Wills (continued), inventories, old English number systems and currency. The nature of 'goods chattels and credits', farm machinery, stock, and crops. Local variations. Inferring building layout and design, furnishings, and wealth from inventories. Spellings and terminology, the use of Latin, conventions, and household items with strange names Week 6 Heraldry, and checking for family 'Achievements of Arms' etc. Heraldic terms, sources of heraldic information, the main works of reference. Heraldic visitations and what they do and don't show. The College of Arms, what they do, and how to work with them Pedigrees, and what the College of Arms expects.