Our Volunteers II : Face to Face Internet and Advice Volunteers

There are guidebooks and instruction manuals for so many aspects of family history, but sometimes there is no substitute for interaction with an actual human.

Advice Sessions

We all know what it's like to hit a research brick wall, and the Society of Genealogists is here to help, via our Advice volunteer Jeremy.

Jeremy has been providing advisory service at the Society for over 15 years and he takes enquiries from people at all different stages of their research journey. He shares this role with two others – Paul and Pooler, also both very experienced and knowledgeable family historians.

I asked Jeremy about the types of questions he gets. ‘There is a variety of enquiries. Some are from beginners and are fairly easy. Some come from people who have been researching for a long time, and for these I can generally just suggest some more possible lines of enquiry. We sometimes get members and others from overseas, especially in the summer, and they often say in advance what their problems are, which helps. One enquirer is writing a book about an historical foreign politician and was looking into the life of someone associated with him.’

Those of us who have struck a brick wall in our research know that feeling of staring at a problem so long and being frustrated at running out of possible lines of enquiry. In these situations, it may be beneficial to have another perspective on a problem. Jeremy says, ‘Sometimes I can look something up quickly in a reference book or on a computer, and often I refer enquirers to particular books and websites. I may raise questions that had not occurred to them.’

It’s free to come in and talk to Jeremy, Paul or Pooler about your brick wall.

Cost:                  Free to both members and non-members

Duration:           30 minutes 

When:                Alternate Saturdays from 2-4pm  (after the Saturday morning library tours)

Book:                by phoning the library 020 7702 5487 or send an email to periodicals@sog.org.uk

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Face to Face Internet Sessions

When many of us embarked on our family history quests, there wasn't such a thing as a personal computer. Those were the days of the printed pedigree charts and endless notes taking down details from the microfiche indexes we poured over for hours and hours. How things have changed!

We couldn't have imagined the ease of searching we'd have now, the records we have access to or keyword search whole. And internet resources are developing all the time, with new features and new resources being added.

Society volunteer Jack developed Face to Face Internet sessions in 2017. ‘There was a need to cater for beginners some with little or no computer experience,’ he says. ‘Some people taking my sessions have never used a computer before, others have used computers, but are new to family history research. In short, I help people with a wide range of computer and family history research abilities.’

Jack covers the major online resources for family history including Ancestry, Find My Past, the British Newspaper Archive, Free BMD and the websites of the National Archives and General Register Office. He says that most of the questions he is asked relate to the Ancestry and Find My Past but from time to time he also assists people looking for their families in places outside the UK and Europe. ‘I’ve learnt about beginners ancestries from diverse places such as Mauritius, Brazil and the West Indies.’

If you're unsure of navigating through the wealth of family history resources online, Jack can help!

Cost:                  Free to members and non-members

Duration:           45 minutes

When:                Every Saturday

Book:                by phone (020) 7251 8799 or online http://www.sog.org.uk/books-courses/events-courses/category/beginners-instruction/

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Can You Assist SoG as a Face to Face Internet Session Volunteer?

The Society is looking to offer Face to Face Internet Sessions fortnightly on Wednesdays from July this year, and we are looking for another volunteer tutor to deliver the Wednesday sessions. Jack will provide training, support and literature. 

If you are a member of the Society and are interested in becoming a Face to Face Internet Session tutor please see our position description and send in your application.

You’ll be helping the society to achieve its stated objectives to:

  • promote recognition of the worth of family history research by providing education, skills and standards for research, and

  • assist members and the public in their research objectives 


The next instalment of 'Our Volunteers' will be about the Great Card Indexers

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