Towards the end of 2019 I undertook a six-week, online, genealogy course with the University of Dundee. The module, Explore Your Family History, was made available through the Centre for Archive and Information Studies with the focus being on locating and interpreting archives and primary sources and understanding the historical context in which they were used.
These days, resources for genealogical research change rapidly and even with my 40-plus years of experience I strongly believe that further education is paramount to keep pace with evolving access to resources as well as improved technology to search and record data.
Having participated in many online genealogical courses over the years, I must admit that Explore Your Family History from the University of Dundee is truly the best online course I have so far undertaken.
Right from the sign-up, everything ran smoothly and expertly with access to the module made through a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) which is part of the University of Dundee website. It was here that all the course material was based.
After log-in, access was gained from the Courses tab which also included an Introduction, Help and Guidance Section, a Discussion Board and a Welcome Announcement from my designated tutor.
The module was broken down into six specific units covering:
- Civil and Criminal Courts and Police Forces
- Church Court Records, including Marriage Bonds and Allegations
- Manorial Records and Estate Papers
- Property Records (title deeds, maps and plans etc)
- Records of Different Types of People – Emigrants, Burgesses and Apprentices, Printed Sources
Whenever I attend any type of genealogy education, be it webinars, conferences, podcasts or online programmes, I fully realise that the bulk of the session will cover material I am already familar with. However, what I always hope to gain is knowledge of at least one new idea, resource or access to research material.
I was therefore thrilled with the Explore Your Family History course as it covered far more than I had expected, and I definitely came away with a wonderful research plan for my next visit to the UK.
Delving into manorial records in Unit 4 turned out to be an absolute goldmine as I followed the suggested Manuscripts and Collections website of the University of Nottingham. Clicking through the various pages, the descriptions of each type of record – court rolls, accounts, rentals, custumals, extents, maps – were short and precise, however, it was a major benefit to also see photographic examples of those records as part of the description. The glossary and supporting resources page was also extremely helpful.
CAIS have certainly put together a fabulous course on a variety of topics and knowledge gained has been an important addition to my genealogical toolbox.
For somebody just starting out on their genealogical journey, it would be wise to undertake the Discover Your Family History module also offered by CAIS, prior to commencing Explore Your Family History. Both courses run for 6 weeks and are very reasonably priced with a range of starting dates.
I now plan to look at further courses with CAIS.