THE VIRTUAL GENEALOGIST

Very slowly and with caution archive offices are opening up again to the public following the lockdown period.  How this is managed depends on the ability of the libraries to implement safety measures which include limiting numbers of visitors to enable social distancing.  I will not be alone in looking forward to handling all those lovely original old documents again, wearing gloves of course, but has lockdown been so bad for the genealogist?  

I have survived very well with my paid subscriptions to Ancestry, Find My Past, My Heritage and the British Newspaper archive but many people rely on free access to these sites at their local history centre or archive office.  Lots of Societies, Institutes and Archives have done what they can to keep us going through these dark times.

 Let’s start with our mother ship, The National Archives.  Some reading rooms have opened with limited access and more rooms are planned to open this month.  You must book your place and although this is easily done online do plan ahead as the next slot available is currently at the beginning of September.  Digital items from the catalogue are still free to download saving at least £3.50 per document and there are several online events or lectures that you can book onto.

Online lectures are being offered by many libraries, Universities and Societies for the first time.  The Society of Genealogists have an extensive timetable of lectures that anyone can register for.  Having the hour long lectures online are an added bonus for those of us who would not normally trek to London and back just to attend an hour’s lecture.  

The Institute of Heraldry and Genealogy are running several seminars or lectures for their students through Zoom. Studying by way of a correspondence course can sometimes feel rather lonely but these excellent seminars bring together students and tutors face to face. 

The Royal Historical Society still have places on their forthcoming lectures.  The lecture called ‘Drunkeness and Misbehaviour; A Reappraisal of Nursing before Nightingale’ on 17th September looks especially interesting.

 The Institute of Historical Research are running several online workshops which will  be of interest to genealogists and archivists  and their annual History Day will be online this year on 19th November. The sessions are very ‘archive based’ but always interesting. Registration for the day is free.

Finally The Family History Fair are having an online event on Saturday 26th September 2020.  There will be talks all day, opportunities to put your questions to the experts and there will be a virtual exhibition hall with societies, archives and other stallholders.  Tickets are £6 and includes a ‘Virtual Goody Bag’ which could be interesting.

Make the most of all the information, meetings, lectures and conferences online at the moment.  While it is still difficult to access original records there are many resources that can help us add to our knowledge of history and genealogy.

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