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Stage 1 Family History Skills Course


Please book here, on our new website. There are places available!

Take the next step in your family history journey. Actually, the next 12 steps! Learn about essential records for genealogy, where to find them and how you can use them to unlock the secrets of your family history.

Join fellow genealogy enthusiasts and a range of expert tutors on Zoom each Saturday for 12-weeks, starting in January 2024.

Not a member yet? 1 Year's Associate Membership with the Society of Genealogists is now included in our Stage 1 Skills Course when purchased at the non-member rate of £240. That's a whole 12 months of access to our online collections, exclusive guides and special member-only pricing on publications, courses and talks. Plus enjoy being part of a thriving genealogy community and access to a weekly 'ask the expert' family history helpline! Perfect for queries arising as you flex all the skills you'll learn in the Stage One course. Existing members can purchase at special members rate of £192. 

From how to get started, to the in’s and out’s of using civil registration records, to tracking your ancestors’ lives through census records and delving into military records. This course not only covers all the essential records required for beginning to trace your family history, it teaches you how to develop crucial sleuthing skills. Setting you up with vital research techniques right from the start of your journey. It’ll even teach you how to start reading old documents, and what to do and where to go outside of digital collections. By the end of the 12 weeks you’ll be adding generations to your family tree, discovering fascinating stories and read to really understand the incredible historic documents available both on and offline. Make the perfect start to your genealogy goals this New Year.

Book here!

Time and Cost

Bookings are open until 19th January 2024. Every Saturday morning, from 6 January to 23 March, join us on Zoom for a 2-hour class (some classes on more intensive subjects may last until 12:45/1:00 pm UK time (GMT).  You will have access to the recording of each talk for two weeks.

Cost for 12 weeks study: £240.00/£192.00 SoG Members. Not an SoG member? Join before you book this course and benefit from members rates, access to our experts and our archive. Associate membership is currently £56. For full benefits see here.


Who should attend the Stage 1 series of classes?

This 12-week course is perfect for genealogy beginners, or those more experienced family history lovers, that want to brush up on the foundation of essential skills required to successfully trace a family tree. It aims to help you to fully understand and utilise records available both online and offline, to find your ancestors – wherever you are in the world.

No previous experience or specialist knowledge is needed. Over the weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to get to know your fellow students and develop a network of genealogy friends. We appreciate that everyone’s family history is unique, so our highly experienced and knowledgeable tutors always make time for Q&A sessions. You’ll never be left puzzled with unanswered questions. New to Zoom and would like to attend an online talk but not sure how? Do contact us if you would like to arrange a free taster session.


If you are thinking of tracing your family tree, or becoming a Genealogist, this course is a perfect foundation.

Book here!

 What is included?

  • 12-week evening course delivered over Zoom
  • Access to recordings for 2 weeks after each lesson
  • Special members only price (if you're already a member)
  • Access to Q&A sessions with our expert tutors
  • Downloadable and printable handouts containing vital lessons from each session
  • Recommended further resources
  • The chance to meet likeminded people in a friendly and supportive environment


What lessons are included in the 12-week course?

 To be confirmed

  • Getting Started with Else Churchill
  • Family Sources and assessing evidence with Else Churchill
  • Civil Registration records & the 1939 register with John Hanson
  • Victorian and Edwardian census returns  with John Hanson
  • Parish registers and records with Else Churchill
  • The Armed Forces and Merchant Navy in the 20th Century with Simon  Fowler
  • Reading Old Documents with Caroline Adams
  • Using UK archives with Janice Tullock
  • Wills & Probate with Else Churchill
  • Non-Anglican family history with Alec Tritton
  • Records of the poor with Simon  Fowler
  • Newspapers, directories and voting records with Else Churchill


Book here!

Your  tutors


Else Churchill is the Genealogist at the Society Genealogists in London and a has over 30 years of experience as a genealogist. Formerly a professional genealogical librarian and researcher, Else has worked for the SoG since 1994. She is the Society’s subject lead, working across the organisation and runs the publishing programme.


John Hanson has written extensively on family history subjects and has been a lecturer and teacher in family history for over twenty-five years, particularly on computers in genealogy and the census. He served on the executive committee of the Guild of One-Names studies for several years and also as a trustee and served on many committees at the Society of Genealogists. He is currently the research director of the Halsted Trust and is a Fellow of SoG.


Simon Fowler. An experienced family history teacher, writer and researcher. He worked for The National Archives on and off for over thirty years. Today he is a professional researcher mainly on family history and military topics. He has written regularly for genealogy magazines and has authored over two dozen books.   Simon teaches at Dundee University, Pharos Tutors and regularly lectures for the Society of Genealogists.


Caroline Adams runs a research business Key to the Past, and regularly carries out house histories and local history research for clients and architects. She teaches palaeography with document interpretation and is an Associate of AGRA. Until 2014 she was Senior Archivist at West Sussex Record Office, and is now a freelance archivist, palaeographer and historian. She also holds a professional archives diploma, and degrees in local and landscape history. She was proud to win the BALH Local History Award for research and publication (short article) in 2020, and is working on a book on local Elizabethan gentry.

Janice Tullock is an archives consultant, researcher and genealogist working with collections and archive services across the UK. She was co-consultant on the establishment of the UK Archives Accreditation Standard and was in the first group of Fellows of the Archives and Records Association. Janice has worked with many diverse collections including Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, Edinburgh University and the National Waterways Museum.


Alec Tritton. He has been a family historian for over 35 years, and lectures regularly on many topics related to genealogy and family history, and particularly on Nonconformity and burial grounds. He was formerly the Chairman of the Federation of Family History Societies, Chairman of the Guild of One-Name studies and Vice-Chairman of the Society of Genealogists.  He is currently Chairman of the Halsted Trust and has been a tutor for our society for several years.

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