The very impressive and efficient high speed train carried me to the historic cathedral city of Canterbury in Kent today.
I met Sarah Bulson, Librarian from the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies. Sarah was very hospitable with her time and was happy to talk with me and give me a tour. The Institute was founded by Cecil Humphrey-Smith in 1961 for the study of the history and structure of the family. Mr Humphrey-Smith is known as the editor of The Philimore Atlas & Index of Parish Registers, a terrific resource for UK family history.
The Institute is an educational charity and provides for training, study and research of family history. It runs courses full, part-time, residential and correspondence including online courses. Current and upcoming short courses include; “Family history: beyond the Internet”, “Military records – Army, RAF and Navy”, “Tracing your roots”, and day school programs include; “The Foundations of Family History”, “Wills and how to read them” and more.
Genealogist graduates will sometimes be employed to carry out professional research using the Institute’s resources, which family history researchers can request via the Institute’s website. A professional genealogists’ firm has evolved out of the Institute known as Achievements.
Sarah showed me around the multi level historic building that the Institute inhabits including the library collections. These include a specialised heraldry collection and the original card index, or more exactly, the paper slips of the Pallot’s Marriage Index, which is a marriage and baptismal index. Online access is available at www.ancestry.co.uk
The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies has three main revenues of income including student enrolments, professional research and digitisation partnerships with genealogy vendors such as Ancestry.com. They have had limited success with public funding applications such as the Heritage Lottery funding, which is available for history related projects.
The Institute produces a scholarly journal four times a year and also operates a bookshop/shop front.