Family History Basics: Masterclass

Ref: C3675909

Due to face to face teaching being suspended unfortunately this course is not currently available for enrolment.

We are launching a range of online courses shortly that may be of interest to you so sign up here to hear more.

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In 2010 Pauline Litton MBE, published Pitfalls and Possibilities in Family History Research based on a very useful series of advisory articles in Family Tree Magazine. The book brought together years of practical research skills and strategies developed mainly in pre-internet years. In today's heavily indexed online world it's important to bear in mind the reasons behind the creation of the records, relevant rules and regulations as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Join our masterclass to review and revisit vital records, highlight common stumbling blocks as well as sharing hints and tips for successfully discovering our ancestors' lives. Includes general guidance, website advice, potential project work and optional events.

Course aim

To review and revisit basic essential sources for family and local history working backwards in time, paying particular attention to reasons for creation and methods of compilation. General guidance, web support and optional project included.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for improvers
  • It is anticipated students will have already done some family or local history research and be keen to develop deeper understanding of source material.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Explain how both types of Civil Registration indexes were constructed; list two unique websites specifying their differences and provide examples of where the system didn't produce the anticipated results and explain why not
  • List at least two other record sets for each category which are contemporary to Birth, Marriage and Death entries; demonstrate a check list system to ensure these associated sources are followed up providing specimen results
  • Recount the general methodology for collecting the census 1841 - 1901 and 1911; advising two new questions from the 1921 census as well as describing four ways by which a census enumerators' book might be checked for missing entries
  • Provide details of three specialist books on two of the above topics and three dedicated website knowledge bases
  • Present this term or next a short illustrated narrative account of a Heritage Plaque which has associations with my Family or Local History research which will include one original record image and an explanatory family tree

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • Advise on individual research interests.

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • Some experience of family tree construction.

What can I do next?

Download full course information sheet

Family History Basics: Masterclass

Is this course right for me? Request more information

Due to face to face teaching being suspended unfortunately this course is not currently available for enrolment.

We are launching a range of online courses shortly that may be of interest to you so sign up here to hear more.


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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