Our essential skills courses

Stage 1 Family History Skills

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. Our Stage 1 Family History Skills is ideal for those just beginning to trace their family tree.

Ready to discover your ancestors?

Whilst popular TV shows might make tracing your family history look easy, in reality there's a lot to learn and no two families are exactly the same. It's easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of 'how to' blog posts all offering different advice, not to mention the numerous commercial sites vying for your attention.

If you're ready to start discovering your ancestors, without the overwhelm, then this is the course for you. Join fellow genealogy enthusiasts and a range of expert tutors on Zoom each Saturday morning for 12-weeks. Starting on 6th January 2024.

Each session will be recorded and available for two weeks, perfect if you can't make a live class one week.

From how to get started, to the ins and outs of using civil registration records, from tracking your ancestors’ lives through census records, to delving into military records, our Stage 1 course covers the essential genealogy records you need to start your family history journey.

1 Year's Associate Membership with the SoG!

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 or £240 to non-members.

What will I learn?

Develop the crucial sleuthing skills required to trace your family history. As well as learning about the records you need to start your family history, you'll also learn vital research techniques, how to interpret old documents, and what to do and where to go when you can't find the answers from online record collections. By the end of the 12-weeks you’ll be adding generations to your family tree, discovering fascinating stories and you'll be ready to really understand the incredible historic documents available both on and offline.

Our 12-week course consists of the following lessons:

• Getting Started with Else Churchill

• Family Sources and Assessing Evidence with Else Churchill

• Civil Registration and 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

Spaces are limited so book now to secure your spot on this popular course.

When is it?

Just us every Saturday morning from 6 January to 23 March 2024 on Zoom for a 2-hour class. Don't forget you will have access to the recording of each session for two weeks, perfect if you can't make a live lesson!

Now available to book: Stage 1 Family History Skills 12 week course: £240 or £192 to SoG Members. Not a member yet? 1 Year's Associate Membership is now included with this course. Find out more about membership benefits here.

What's Included?

  • 1 Year's Associate Membership (for those not already members)
  • A 12-week evening course delivered over Zoom by an array of expert genealogists
  • Access to recordings enabling you to catch up or re-watch for 2 weeks after each lesson
  • Access to Q&A sessions with our expert tutors
  • Downloadable and printable handouts containing vital lessons and tips from each of the sessions
  • Recommended further resources, such as reading lists
  • The chance to meet likeminded people and access to our members-only community, making it easy to keep in touch with fellow learners after the course
  • Access to Stage 1 to 3 Skills Course Alumni Facebook Group (a space specifically for both past and present learners)
Spaces are limited so book now to secure your spot on this popular course.

Meet Your Tutors

Else Churchill. Our in-house expert, Else has over 30-years of experience as a genealogist. Formerly a professional genealogical librarian and researcher, Else has worked for the Society of Genealogists since 1994. She now leads on external liaison, representation, the Society's education and publishing programmes, as well as being the Society's subject specialist.

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 is 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 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.

Spaces are limited so book now to secure your spot on this popular course.
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As a member, you can make the most of our resources, access our experts, and find a welcoming community of people interested in family history and genealogy.

We all have roots. Let’s find them together.

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