Family History Library classes

Snow capped mountains surround Salt Lake City at this time of the year

Snow capped mountains surround Salt Lake City at this time of the year

Wednesday March  21 – another day in Salt Lake City with a buzz in the air as people arrived for Rootstech which started the next day

Rootstech is a genealogy and technology confernce designed for people to discover the latest family history tools and techniques, connect with experts to help you in your research, and be inspired in the pursuit of your ancestors. It is a conference with a unique emphasis on helping individuals learn and use the latest technology to get started or accelerate their efforts to findorganisepreserve and share their family’s connections and history.

The family history library has a regular class schedule and so I thought I would take advantage of that and hear the expertise of speakers who were also here for Rootstech. There were three sessions planned, all focusing on researching UK records.  After arriving promptly for the first class at 9.30 am, we were informed that two speakers had been delayed on their flights here. Audrey Collins, the third speaker, filled in for the 10.45 am time slot – so we were not too disappointed.

The classes or lectures were held in the auditorium of the Church History Museum, which is adjacent to the Family History Library.

Audrey Collins is the Records Specialist, Family History at the National Archives (UK).  She also maintains a personal blog at The Family Recorder.

Audrey’s first presentation was titled: “There and back again: going away does not mean staying away.”

Audrey had recently presented this talk at “Who Do You Think You Are? Live” a month ago and I had not been able to see it then.

She reminded us that our ancestors probably moved around a lot. We may have clues to our ancestors travelling abroad because; they are missing from a census, there is a missing marriage record, or  you may have a family heirloom or story. Photos of ancestors may provide clues including name of photographer on the photo board or military service medals worn, which were issued for overseas service.

Clues in the records can lead to surprising discoveries.  Do not overlook the “hit and hope” strategy by keying in names in datasets where you may not necessarily think they may appear. Sometimes you come across one family member in an unusual place while looking for someone else.

People moved abroad for various reasons.  This may have included; “For King (or Queen) and country”, armed forces, merchant navy, diplomatic or colonial service, for temporary work or simply for a new start.

Look for evidence in the records via passenger lists. Military service records include overseas service sometimes down to the years, and days. Pension records for military servicemen may also include details of overseas service.

Look for birth, marriage and death registrations overseas as there was no historical requirement to register these in the UK.

After lunch Audrey returned for her scheduled talk: “Lesser known sources for births, marriage and deaths.”

Before looking at lesser known sources, it is advisable to look at the well known sources first; including vital records,  other church (including non conformist) and cemetery records as well as military service records.

Try looking at the well known sources in a different way to look for the information you want; e.g. a maiden name of a mother may be found on siblings’ records.

Lesser known sources include UKBMD, Bishops transcripts (Church of England) and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which also includes civilian casualties of World War 2 and Deceased Online.

Alternative records include workhouse, hospital and prison records.  Published sources include newspapers and periodicals such as the London Gazette, peerage and gentry books and university rolls of alumni.  The Boyd and Pallot (for marriages) card index is available via Ancestry. is a subscription website which is handy for probate indexes.

There are also a lot of miscellaneous records worth chasing up if they pertain to the area of your area of research.


About infolass

Local and Family History Librarian, Yarra Plenty Regional Library, Melbourne, Australia
This entry was posted in Margery C Ramsay Scholarship, Salt Lake City and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s