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Follow the branches to find your family roots

Published August 28, 2019 10.28am

A series of family history courses invite new and experienced heritage-seekers to find out about their past.

DCRO Holmes Family 1923

Photograph of four generations of the Holmes Family in South Hetton, 1923 (DCRO Ref: sout0081)

Who knows what you could find if you dig deeper into your family roots?

Durham County Record Office is offering the public the chance to explore that question.

The Family History Course for Beginners is the first step towards discovery, guiding attendees through the basics in research including civil registration, the census and parish registers.

Dawn Layland, education and outreach archivist at Durham County Record Office, said: "The course is a fun introduction to help people start their journey into the past. Newcomers can learn how to best use the rich archive at the Record Office, see examples of fascinating research in action, as well as get involved in interactive activities.

"Previous participants have found it the ideal starting point, and really benefitted from having an archivist on hand."

The course lasts for three weeks and runs on Thursday evenings, from 6pm to 8pm on the 12, 19 and 26 September and Friday mornings from 10am to 12 noon on the 13, 20 and 27 September.

Each three-week course costs £30 per person.

Dig a little deeper

For those who are looking to move beyond basic research skills, the Branching Out course offers an opportunity to dig a little further. The next talk in the series is titled Illegitimacy, Divorce and Adoption.

Dawn Layland said: "Our ancestors lived in a world with very different laws around marriage and family. Children born out of wedlock faced a lifetime of stigma and couples whose marriage had broken down were often unable to separate without heavy legal costs, if at all.

"We will look at the social climate of the time, what records survive and how we can use them to find out more."

There will be an hour after the talk to browse and use our research facilities, with support from an archivist.

The session runs twice, on Monday 23 September, from 6pm to 8pm and Thursday 26 September, 10am to 12 noon.

Tickets must be booked in advance and are priced at £10 per person

To find out more or to book a course visit Durham County Record Office, or call 03000 267626.

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