Monday, August 21, 2006

The British are coming . . .

…but this time without the muskets and red coats. A team from various parts of the UK has been assembled to give a selection of talks on a range of English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish sources for your family history. You’ll be surprised at what you can find in British records – even if you think you have no British ancestry.

As an island nation and a former Imperial power Britain has always had a strong military and naval tradition, so it is a rare British – or Irish – family that does not contain a soldier or a sailor or two, or more. There are talks on the records of both the British Army and the Royal Navy from Paul Blake. He will also tell you . . . Read More

He will also tell you about Land Grants and American Loyalist Claims from 17th and 18th century records. He and Maggie Loughran are giving a pair of lectures on the Scots-Irish; they explain who these people were, when, where and why they migrated, and how to find out more about them. Paul and Maggie have previously lectured extensively in the USA, and will be doing so again immediately after Boston.

Genealogists like nothing better than lists of names, and Maggie will tell you about some early British ones, predating the first really useful census of 1841. There are several early censuses and other useful name lists, if only you know where to look. She can also help you identify the ‘Best of British’ websites for your research. Finally, she will tell you how to make use of the wealth of knowledge and experience that local and family history societies in Britain have amassed over the years, not only to help you with your research, but to expand and enrich it.

Else Churchill is the Genealogy Officer of the Society of Genealogists, and will talk on the related themes of local and specialist library collections throughout the UK, and her talk ‘I’m Stuck!’ aims to help you become un-stuck when researching your elusive English ancestors. She is particularly knowledgeable about 17th and 18th century records, and is in such demand that she has to leave the Conference early to fly back to England to speak at another International Conference there!

Audrey Collins comes from The National Archives (TNA) to give an overview of its records and facilities, and how to use them in your research; and the good news is that you can find an amazing amount of information online. She will speak separately on Irish resources in TNA; you’ll be surprised at the amount of information about Irish people that is held in England, and not in Ireland where you might expect to find it. And if you’re confused about the difference between England, Great Britain, the United Kingdom and the British Isles, she hopes to explain exactly what is ‘Britain’. She is also speaking as part of Librarians’ Day, where she will explain how the Family Records Centre in London deals with its patrons (we call them customers).

Roger Kershaw, also from TNA, specialises in the records of migration, and he talks on a number of subjects, all in different lecture tracks; child migrants to Canada in the International: Canada track, free migrants from Britain to North America in the New England track; passenger lists held in TNA comes under Archives and Repositories, and he teams up with Connie Potter from the U.S. NARA for ‘Hopping the Pond’ about sources for migration in the two archives, and how to identify them.

Joanna O’Rourke comes from Scotland, representing both the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS) and the National Archives of Scotland (NAS). She is an expert on the vital records and census returns held by GROS, essential for anyone researching their Scottish ancestry, and in a separate session deals with the wills and probate records held in NAS. Many of the records she talks about have been digitised and are available online. She also brings the latest news on the exciting new Scottish Family History Service Project, being developed jointly by the two offices and the Court of the Lord Lyon, and of which she is project manager.

We are all looking forward to meeting old and new friends in Boston, and we have a combined ‘Best of British’ stand in the Exhibit Hall, where you can find out more about us, our archives and our records. See you there!

Thanks to Audrey Collins for sending this to the blog.


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