On the one hand, the in-person courses and events many of us enjoy attending are all cancelled, as we’re forced to limit social contact to stop the spread of the deadly pandemic.
On the other, the need for constructive ways to stay occupied at home means that now’s the perfect time to start your family tree, or brush up on your existing genealogy skills.
Luckily, many family history courses from leading experts are already available online.
Other organisations are now making videos of their lectures available for free, as part of an opening up of online family history resources to those stuck at home.
Whether it’s learning new family history skills or discovering political radicals from history, discover how you can turn lockdown into a learning opportunity with our picks.
IHGS School of Family History
The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies (IHGS) has been running correspondence courses for almost 60 years and offers recognised accreditation. There are courses for all levels from beginner to professional. All through the lockdown period they have been offering 10% off all of their courses as well as a free starter module.
University of Strathclyde
Register now for the University of Strathclyde’s choice of eight-week online genealogy courses. With four courses to use from – Family History Research: An Introduction, Family History Research: Beyond the Basics, Genetic Genealogy: An Introduction and Using Technology in Your Family History Research – there’s something for every level of ability and interest. All courses start on 20 April and cost £184.
Pharos Tutors offer a comprehensive syllabus of paid distance learning family history courses. Their latest courses are Your Military Ancestors with Simon Fowler (starts 21 April) and Apprenticeship Records with Stuart A. Raymond (22 April).
You can now watch free recordings of speeches from every RootsTech conference since 2015, as well as last year’s RootsTech London conference, with leading family history experts sharing crucial skills and the latest developments in the field.
The National Archives
The National Archives is introducing What’s On-line, a new free programme of online talks and webinars. Coming next is Using Migration Records (24 April), followed by Margaret Thatcher in Ten Documents (1 May) and Top Level Tips: Using Discovery (12 May), an introduction to The National Archives’ online records catalogue.
HistFest: Lockdown was a free virtual history festival on 3 April. If you missed it, don’t worry – you can catch up on the highlights any time via YouTube, including Sir Michael Palin on the disappearance and recovery of HMS Erebus, Baillie Gifford Prize-winning author Hallie Rubenhold on Jack the Ripper’s victims and Rebecca Rideal on her new book, A Curious History of Sex.
Scottish Indexes are hosting free virtual conferences on how to trace your Scottish ancestry via Facebook, with the next one taking place on 1 May. You can also catch up with author and Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine contributor Chris Paton‘s talk on civil registration records from the 9 April conference via YouTube.
Working Class Movement Library
The Working Class Movement Library (WCML) are building an archive of talks that they would have hosted in person on YouTube instead. First up is ‘Mary Macarthur, the working women’s champion’ by Cathy Hunt, to be followed on 15 April by Paul Myles on Thomas Paine. You can also watch the talk live at 2pm on Zoom.
Family Tree Live virtual conference
Family Tree Live may have been cancelled, but the show goes on online! Don’t miss their video tutorials from leading genealogists on 17 and 18 April. Plus, there’s a ‘Virtual Goody Bag’ of special offers!
Jersey Heritage are hosting a series of online webinars on the theme ‘What’s Your Street’s Story?’, plus introductions to their online records.
Auckland Libraries are hosting a series of free webinars on New Zealanders at war on 20-24 April. They take place at 11am New Zealand Standard Time, or midnight British Summer Time, but with individual stories and expert research advice on New Zealand’s wars from the British Empire to the World Wars to Vietnam, they’re worth staying up for!