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What to do with your Family History


Researching a family history generates a plethora of documents and information. What should you do with it all? How can you ensure your discoveries aren’t lost in time once more? On this 8-week evening course, delivered by a range of industry-leading experts, you will learn how to store your family history, how to preserve both physical and digital documents, plus how to write and share your ancestors’ stories ensuring they never get forgotten again.

What will the course cover? 

  • How to organise your documents
  • How and why you should create a catalogue of your documents
  • Tips for how to physically organise your paperwork
  • The essential steps to preparing your research for donation to the SoG and other archives
  • How to preserve your precious paper-based documents and photos
  • How to write and share your family history stories in engaging ways
  • How to create ancestor biographies, from choosing your format to adding historical context
  • How to keep your family history legal, ethical and morally correct
  • How to ensure quotes and images are within copyright
  • How to create source citations so that others can find your references
  • Why and how to share your family history online, including creating your own website


Time and Cost

Every Tuesday evening 6 to 7:30pm (includes discussions) from 18 April to 6 June 2023 on Zoom.  Each class is recorded and available to students for two weeks. 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.  Bookings will be accepted until 1st May.

Cost for 8 weeks study: £150.00/£120.00 SoG Members.   To find out more about joining our society as a member, visit our membership page

What you will learn

  • Organising your family history: How to sort and find your documents with Nicola Waddington: There must be a better system than the pile of papers covering the floor or unlabelled shoeboxes under the bed! Nicola explains some techniques for organising your documents. How and why you should create a catalogue of your documents, creating references numbers. Some tips for physical organisation of your paperwork.
  • Leaving your family history: What to do with your Personal and Professional Family History Research Papers with Else Churchill, Clare O’Grady and Darris Williams: None of us will be here forever and there comes a time when it is necessary to consider passing on our research. We do not all have an interested family member, and our collection may include paperwork from other families. Else Churchill describes the Society of Genealogy policy for donating materials to the collection and guides us through preparing research for donation. We are joined by guests who share their policies and preferences. 
  • Preserving your family history. Paper documents and photos with Jordan Megyery: As genealogists we prize family photographs and generate a pile of precious documents such as newspaper clippings, birth certificates and other paperwork. We learn about the preservation of both paper-based documents and photographic materials encountered by genealogists.
  • Preserving your family history. Digital documents and photos with Graham Walter: Looking at documents that were created digitally, and how to digitise the paper records and photographs/slides. How to ensure the longevity of your digital archives.
  • Sharing your family history. Writing the stories with Natalie Pithers: Every family tree has at least one story worth sharing! It's up to you to decide how and where to share it. All too often our time with our ancestors ends once we've collected our data...which means that our ancestors' stories go unheard and unshared despite the great care we've taken to uncover them. Natalie talks about how to write and share the stories we have uncovered.
  • Writing your family history. Writing a biography with Janet Few: This session will provide advice and suggestions for anyone wanting to write interesting biographies of their ancestors, or of course themselves. Students will be taken through choosing formats and starting points and there will be helpful hints for organizing material. There will be guidance for creating timelines and particular emphasis will be given to setting the family story within the broader social, national and local historical context.
  • Writing your family history. The legal aspects copyright and citations with Tahita McCabe: Tahitia digs into keeping your family history writing legal, ethically, and morally correct. How to craft a citation so that others can find the reference. What to consider when using quotations, images and whether they are within copyright.
  • Sharing your family history: creating an online presence with Paul Carter: This talk will cover putting your family history online which not only aids sharing with family members but also acts as a means of connecting with others researching the same lines. The content is aimed at beginners to web design who are interested in setting up a website and publishing their family history to it.

Your tutors:

Clare O’Grady is currently an archive researcher at Herefordshire archives alongside having her own genealogy business:  Herefordshire Genealogy.  With an MSc in Genealogical studies from the University of Strathclyde, she is an experienced trainer and has been researching her own family tree for over 20 years with links to Hereford, Northampton and the Republic of Ireland.

Darris Williams began discovering his family history while stationed at RAF Alconbury in 1983. He has a bachelor’s degree in Family & Community History and he worked as a British reference consultant at the Family History Library for 15 years. The following years have been spent creating new record publications and help projects. Developing research and teaching skills continues to be a priority after 30 years as a FamilySearch employee. He was a co-founder of the FamilySearch wiki. Darris is presently the FamilySearch Wiki & Community Trees Manager, freelance genealogist, and family history instructor. He is currently a trustee of the Society of Genealogists.

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.

Graham Walter is an IT manager with Nissan and Renault in the UK and a professional member of the British Computer Society. He regularly gives talks for family history societies, has been an instructor at the British Institute in Salt Lake City, has given talks at the Who Do You Think You Are? Shows and for the Guild of One Name Studies. He is a regular tutor at the Society of Genealogists, specialising in using technology in genealogy.  He volunteers with the Society’s Educational Outreach programme as one of the "Census Detectives" and a familiar face at many family history fairs and conferences. He is currently a trustee of our society.

Janet Few. An experienced family, social and community historian who has presented throughout the UK, overseas and at sea. She has written several books of interest to genealogists and contributes to local and family history journals. She also writes historical fiction.  Janet is currently serving as the president of the Family History Federation. She was awarded the Society of Genealogists certificate of recognition in 2020 for her work.

Jordan Megyery is currently conservator of contemporary art at Tate gallery in London where she specialises in the conservation of photographic materials. She has an MA Conservation of Fine Art from Northumbria University and studied Fine Art Photography as an undergraduate. Jordan has experience in the preservation of library, archive and fine art collections and is keen to share her knowledge with different audiences.

Natalie Pithers is a self-confessed history geek and a Mum of 3. Nowadays her little descendants keep her just as busy as my ancestors. She started tracing her family tree when she was 18, whilst s also studying for a degree in English Lit. She loves stories, and spent long nights devouring many classic novels. Stories by social commentators (like Charles Dickens) fuelled her interest in discovering the lives of her ancestors – and helped to understand their world. After Uni she had a career in Project Management. She really enjoyed it, especially the problem-solving and organising aspects of her roles. Genealogy Stories allows her to combine my passion for history with the pleasure I take from analysing and structuring data.  

Nicola Waddington is a professionally qualified and Registered Archivist who runs the heritage consultancy, Archives Alive, which provides a wide variety of services in archive or museum development. She has worked as an Archivist for a wide variety of organisations and regularly gives talks and workshops on genealogy, tracing your local history, palaeography and research skills in English records

Paul Carter is an experienced software developer and web designer, whose work has included producing and supporting web solutions for a number of professional genealogists and genealogical organisations. Paul is also the co-founder of Name & Place, a new software product designed to support one-place studies, one-name studies and local history projects, which was launched at RootsTech in Salt Lake City just before the pandemic hit, in February 2020. As a genealogist, Paul is an Associate of AGRA, the professional body, and is the Digital Manager for the British Association for Local History. With this expertise­ of both web technologies and genealogical research, Paul is regularly called upon to speak to family history and local history audiences.

Tahitia McCabe is the Knowledge Exchange Fellow for the Postgraduate Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Programme and the Lead Tutor for the PG Certificate Programme at Strathclyde University. This means she is the Course Director and thus takes the lead on postgraduate programme management, promotes the courses generally and does long range planning. She also runs the PG Certificate programme on a day to day basis.

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