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Book places online for the events listed below.

If you would like to receive details of future events at the Record Office you can subscribe to our events mailing lists:

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Events: November 2021

ONLINE Third Thursday Talk: 'Mary Farrow, 1893-1918 - teacher, survivor of war, victim of Spanish flu'
by Gillian Hunt, local historian
Thursday 18 November 2021, from 10.30am to 11.30am
£0.00

A restored white marble cross in the churchyard of St Mary's Churchyard, Gainford, marks the resting place of Mary Farrow (nee Lister) of Hartlepool.

Her story is one of local history, social history, courage, romance and final tragedy in the 1918 Spanish influenza epidemic. We'll go from Hartlepool to Gainford via Durham University, trainee teachers in First World War Oxford, an eye-witness account of the Hartlepool bombardment and an emotional conclusion to the research project on Remembrance Sunday 2018.

This free event is hosted on Zoom (donations welcome, by optional payment link).
Advance booking essential.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Branching Out: Divorce
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 25 November 2021, from 10.00am to 11.00am
£5.00

Laws around marriage and divorce were very different in the past. Understanding how can help to explain anomalies you may find when researching your family tree, as well as throw light on how your ancestors lived.

We will also look at the surviving records and where to find them, including what is available online.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Branching Out: Divorce
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 25 November 2021, from 6.00pm to 7.00pm
£5.00

Laws around marriage and divorce were very different in the past. Understanding how can help to explain anomalies you may find when researching your family tree, as well as throw light on how your ancestors lived.

We will also look at the surviving records and where to find them, including what is available online.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.

Events: January 2022

ONLINE Branching Out: Hospital Records
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 13 January 2022, from 10.00am to 11.00am
£5.00

The shape of health care in England has changed drastically in the last 200 years, as has medicine in general.

This talk looks at what these changes meant for our ancestors, what records survive and how to understand them.

The date for this talk was advertised in the Durham County News as 20 January, but we've had to rearrange it, and the new date is 13 January. Apologies for any confusion.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Branching Out: Hospital Records
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 13 January 2022, from 6.00pm to 7.00pm
£5.00

The shape of health care in England has changed drastically in the last 200 years, as has medicine in general.

This talk looks at what these changes meant for our ancestors, what records survive and how to understand them.

The date for this talk was advertised in the Durham County News as 20 January, but we've had to rearrange it, and the new date is 13 January. Apologies for any confusion.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Third Thursday Talk: 'Thomas Shirley - Durham's unsung 18th century architect and landscape designer'
by Martin Roberts, architectural historian
Thursday 20 January 2022, from 10.30am to 11.30am
£0.00

In the early 18th century architects of national or regional importance rarely stayed with a single commission for a long time. After their designs were accepted, they often moved on, leaving it to more local men to bring their schemes to fruition.

Thomas Shirley was such man, employed by many of the great County Durham families, capable of not only implementing the works of others but an architect, and sometime landscape architect, in his own right.

Using the archives of the Durham County Record Office, Durham University Library Special Collections, as well as more distant archives, coupled to his surviving works, we shall put together a picture of the talented and reliable Thomas Shirley.

This free event is hosted on Zoom (donations welcome, by optional payment link).
Advance booking essential.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join the event online.


ONLINE Family History Course: Civil Registration
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Wednesday 26 January 2022, from 10.00am to 11.00am
£5.00

This online family history course is aimed at people who've thought about tracing their ancestors, but are wondering what would be involved or where to get started.

The course consists of three talks, on Civil Registration, the Census and Parish Registers, all bookable individually. We will explore some of the sources that family historians use and show how archives held at the Record Office can help in your search.

The first session looks at civil registration, the system of birth, marriage and death certificates that started in 1837. Find out how they can help you construct a family tree and how to search for and obtain copies.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Family History Course: Civil Registration
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Wednesday 26 January 2022, from 6.00pm to 7.00pm
£5.00

This online family history course is aimed at people who've thought about tracing their ancestors, but are wondering what would be involved or where to get started.

The course consists of three talks, on Civil Registration, the Census and Parish Registers, all bookable individually. We will explore some of the sources that family historians use and show how archives held at the Record Office can help in your search.

The first session looks at civil registration, the system of birth, marriage and death certificates that started in 1837. Find out how they can help you construct a family tree and how to search for and obtain copies.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.

Events: February 2022

ONLINE Family History Course: The Census
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Wednesday 2 February 2022, from 10.00am to 11.00am
£5.00

This online family history course is aimed at people who've thought about tracing their ancestors, but are wondering what would be involved or where to get started.

The course consists of three talks, on Civil Registration, the Census and Parish Registers, all bookable individually. We will explore some of the sources that family historians use and show how archives held at the Record Office can help in your search.

The second session looks at the census. Find out how to access the census and how to understand the returns themselves, with advice on uncovering ancestors who may be missing or hard to find.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Family History Course: The Census
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Wednesday 2 February 2022, from 6.00pm to 7.00pm
£5.00

This online family history course is aimed at people who've thought about tracing their ancestors, but are wondering what would be involved or where to get started.

The course consists of three talks, on Civil Registration, the Census and Parish Registers, all bookable individually. We will explore some of the sources that family historians use and show how archives held at the Record Office can help in your search.

The second session looks at the census. Find out how to access the census and how to understand the returns themselves, with advice on uncovering ancestors who may be missing or hard to find.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Family History Course: Parish Registers
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Wednesday 9 February 2022, from 10.00am to 11.00am
£5.00

This online family history course is aimed at people who've thought about tracing their ancestors, but are wondering what would be involved or where to get started.

The course consists of three talks, on Civil Registration, the Census and Parish Registers, all bookable individually. We will explore some of the sources that family historians use and show how archives held at the Record Office can help in your search.

The third session looks at parish registers, the Church of England records of baptisms, marriages and burials going back, in some cases, to the 1530s. Find out what information they contain, how they change over time and how to access them.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Family History Course: Parish Registers
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Wednesday 9 February 2022, from 6.00pm to 7.00pm
£5.00

This online family history course is aimed at people who've thought about tracing their ancestors, but are wondering what would be involved or where to get started.

The course consists of three talks, on Civil Registration, the Census and Parish Registers, all bookable individually. We will explore some of the sources that family historians use and show how archives held at the Record Office can help in your search.

The third session looks at parish registers, the Church of England records of baptisms, marriages and burials going back, in some cases, to the 1530s. Find out what information they contain, how they change over time and how to access them.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Branching Out: Mining Ancestors
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 17 February 2022, from 10.00am to 11.00am
£5.00

Most people with Durham ancestors will have a miner or two in their family tree and there is a wealth of records to help you find out more about them.

Union records, coal owners' records and other sources such as local newspapers can all yield useful information about your ancestor and his career in the Durham coalfield. This online talk will guide you through the records, giving valuable hints and tips along the way.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Branching Out: Mining Ancestors
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 17 February 2022, from 6.00pm to 7.00pm
£5.00

Most people with Durham ancestors will have a miner or two in their family tree and there is a wealth of records to help you find out more about them.

Union records, coal owners' records and other sources such as local newspapers can all yield useful information about your ancestor and his career in the Durham coalfield. This online talk will guide you through the records, giving valuable hints and tips along the way.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.

Events: March 2022

ONLINE Third Thursday Talk: 'In Search of the Future - the Peterlee archives'
by Colin Robson, Community Arts Officer
Thursday 17 March 2022, from 10.30am to 11.30am
£0.00

Colin Robson is a Community Arts Officer here at Durham County Council. For the past 15 years he's been visiting the Durham Record Office as part of his work to support participation and engagement in the Arts.

A significant motivation for many of these visits down the years has been to explore the collections on Peterlee and the Apollo Pavilion, the town's iconic and controversial 20th century landmark, with which he has forged an intimate bond.

In Colin's own words, "it might be a roundabout journey, but when looking to the future, the hard facts are what keep you straight."

This free event is hosted on Zoom (donations welcome, by optional payment link).
Advance booking essential.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join the event online.


ONLINE Branching Out: Landed Families
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 24 March 2022, from 10.00am to 11.00am
£5.00

Landed families and the aristocracy formed a privileged minority but are generally over-represented in records. They range from vastly wealthy families such as the Londonderrys and Strathmores, who were titled and owned significant portions of the county, to much more modest families residing in smaller homes with a little land around them.

This talk looks what life was like for these families and where their records can be found, as well as exploring what sorts of records you might expect with hints and tips on how to use them.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Branching Out: Landed Families
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 24 March 2022, from 6.00pm to 7.00pm
£5.00

Landed families and the aristocracy formed a privileged minority but are generally over-represented in records. They range from vastly wealthy families such as the Londonderrys and Strathmores, who were titled and owned significant portions of the county, to much more modest families residing in smaller homes with a little land around them.

This talk looks what life was like for these families and where their records can be found, as well as exploring what sorts of records you might expect with hints and tips on how to use them.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.

Events: April 2022

ONLINE Branching Out: Domestic Servants
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 28 April 2022, from 10.00am to 11.00am
£5.00

Domestic service was once the most common occupation in Great Britain, so it's highly likely that at least some of your ancestors were employed in this way.

Roles varied greatly, from the defined hierarchy of a large house with dozens of servants to the 'maid of all work' employed by a tradesman or large family.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Branching Out: Domestic Servants
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 28 April 2022, from 6.00pm to 7.00pm
£5.00

Domestic service was once the most common occupation in Great Britain, so it's highly likely that at least some of your ancestors were employed in this way.

Roles varied greatly, from the defined hierarchy of a large house with dozens of servants to the 'maid of all work' employed by a tradesman or large family.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.

Events: May 2022

ONLINE Branching Out: Nineteenth and 20th Century Housing
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 12 May 2022, from 10.00am to 11.00am
£5.00

Houses and home ownership have changed a great deal over the past two hundred years, from colliery housing to aged miners' homes to council houses.

This talk will look at what our ancestors' homes were like and the basis on which they were rented or owned. We will also explore what records were created, where they can be found and what they can reveal about our ancestors.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Branching Out: Nineteenth and 20th Century Housing
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 12 May 2022, from 6.00pm to 7.00pm
£5.00

Houses and home ownership have changed a great deal over the past two hundred years, from colliery housing to aged miners' homes to council houses.

This talk will look at what our ancestors' homes were like and the basis on which they were rented or owned. We will also explore what records were created, where they can be found and what they can reveal about our ancestors.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Third Thursday Talk: 'Business, Employment and Communities - a theme from A Tyneside Heritage'
by Peter Chapman, author
Thursday 19 May 2022, from 10.30am to 11.30am
£0.00

Spanning 150 years of South Shields' changing fortunes, 'A Tyneside Heritage' is a pioneering work of interwoven local and family history. After the 19th century boom years of coal exporting and shipbuilding for global markets came the First World War and then the mass unemployment and political turbulence of the 1930s. Luftwaffe bombing in the Second World War was followed by further challenges in peacetime.

Against this background the Chapman family played a leading role in the town and in County Durham as businessmen, soldiers, borough councillors, sportsmen, philanthropists and representatives of royalty.

In this talk, Peter Chapman explores the lives of three generations of his family. Robert Chapman JP was a draper and sailing collier owner. His son Henry founded a chartered accountancy practice and a building society. His grandson Sir Robert was a borough councillor, MP for Houghton-le-Spring in the 1930s and then chairman of North-Eastern Trading Estates.

This free event is hosted on Zoom (donations welcome, by optional payment link).
Advance booking essential.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join the event online.

Events: June 2022

ONLINE Branching Out: Parish Records (other than registers)
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 23 June 2022, from 10.00am to 11.00am
£5.00

The value of parish registers for family history is well known and they are often easily accessible. But there is a wealth of other records kept by parishes that can also be useful for family history, especially as you get further back. Many ancestors will have served as parish officers and surviving records may tell you about their tenure as churchwarden or parish constable. Even if they didn't, parish records have a lot to say about the community in which your ancestors lived.

This talk will look at what records survive as well as how to understand and find them.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Branching Out: Parish Records (other than registers)
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 23 June 2022, from 6.00pm to 7.00pm
£5.00

The value of parish registers for family history is well known and they are often easily accessible. But there is a wealth of other records kept by parishes that can also be useful for family history, especially as you get further back. Many ancestors will have served as parish officers and surviving records may tell you about their tenure as churchwarden or parish constable. Even if they didn't, parish records have a lot to say about the community in which your ancestors lived.

This talk will look at what records survive as well as how to understand and find them.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.

Events: July 2022

ONLINE Branching Out: Farming Ancestors
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 14 July 2022, from 10.00am to 11.00am
£5.00

Before the 19th century, Durham, like most of Great Britain, was a rural county with agriculture the predominant occupation. Some people owned or leased their own farms, others worked as labourers with varying degrees of skill and pay.

This talk explores the occupations that existed and how our ancestors lived as well as the records that survive and what they can tell us.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Branching Out: Farming Ancestors
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 14 July 2022, from 6.00pm to 7.00pm
£5.00

Before the 19th century, Durham, like most of Great Britain, was a rural county with agriculture the predominant occupation. Some people owned or leased their own farms, others worked as labourers with varying degrees of skill and pay.

This talk explores the occupations that existed and how our ancestors lived as well as the records that survive and what they can tell us.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Third Thursday Talk: 'Finding Wilfred - a Great War mystery'
by David Yeoman, military researcher
Thursday 21 July 2022, from 10.30am to 11.30am
£0.00

My initial research started looking for Wilfred Lomas who was killed in action on or around 16 December 1917, along with two others, Westgarth and Dunn, and it grew from there.

My mother remembers seeing a letter the family received in the early 1920s stating that his body had been exhumed and was to be reinterred at Polcappelle. It appears that Wilfred's body may have been exhumed at some point and then lost. Unfortunately, the letter, his wallet and the other items which were returned, disappeared after the death of my grandfather.

A total of 19 men of 10 DLI were reported killed during December 1917. Eleven have known graves, but Wilfred and six others do not. I concentrated my investigation on the exhumation records for Polcappelle which are in the CWGC records and worked my way through some 7500 exhumation records, and from the collated exhumation details I started to build a picture of where Wilfred could have been killed - and this is the story of how I searched for Wilfred and the others.

This free event is hosted on Zoom (donations welcome, by optional payment link).
Advance booking essential.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join the event online.

Events: September 2022

ONLINE Third Thursday Talk: 'Marvellous Diggers - the 1st Battalion DLI in Korea, 1952 to 1953'
by Steve Shannon, military researcher
Thursday 15 September 2022, from 10.30am to 11.30am
£0.00

Seventy years ago, on 7 September 1952, the soldiers of the 1st Battalion The Durham Light Infantry (DLI) landed in Korea to serve with the Commonwealth Division and soon found themselves living and fighting in trenches and dug-outs as their grandfathers had done on the Western Front during the First World War.

Most of these soldiers were young National Servicemen, called-up to serve two years in the Army, though many of their officers and sergeants were veterans of the Second World War.

This illustrated talk will explore the experiences of these soldiers during the Korean War, through photographs, documents and newspapers held by Durham County Record Office; key objects from the DLI Collection; and the memories of DLI veterans, who were interviewed in the 1990s for the Imperial War Museum.

This free event is hosted on Zoom (donations welcome, by optional payment link).
Advance booking essential.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join the event online.


ONLINE Branching Out: Catholic Ancestors
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 22 September 2022, from 10.00am to 11.00am
£5.00

The North East has always had a strong Catholic tradition, but after Henry VIII created the Church of England in 1534, life became very difficult for anyone who refused to conform to the new denomination. For centuries, Catholics were treated as second class citizens, forced to worship in secret, they risked losing their property and even their lives if they were discovered. Yet, the tradition remained strong.

This talk looks at what it was like to be a Roman Catholic as well as at what records survive and where to find them.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Branching Out: Catholic Ancestors
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 22 September 2022, from 6.00pm to 7.00pm
£5.00

The North East has always had a strong Catholic tradition, but after Henry VIII created the Church of England in 1534, life became very difficult for anyone who refused to conform to the new denomination. For centuries, Catholics were treated as second class citizens, forced to worship in secret, they risked losing their property and even their lives if they were discovered. Yet, the tradition remained strong.

This talk looks at what it was like to be a Roman Catholic as well as at what records survive and where to find them.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.

Events: October 2022

ONLINE Branching Out: Scottish Ancestors
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 13 October 2022, from 10.00am to 11.00am
£5.00

Being relatively close to the Scottish border, it is only natural that many Durham families have Scottish roots. Yet researching Scottish ancestors can be challenging as the records, though similar, differ in unexpected ways. The Scottish legal system and even naming traditions also vary, which can create confusion.

This talk takes a broad overview of family history in Scotland, exploring these differences and offering explanations and advice on tracing ancestors there.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Branching Out: Scottish Ancestors
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 13 October 2022, from 6.00pm to 7.00pm
£5.00

Being relatively close to the Scottish border, it is only natural that many Durham families have Scottish roots. Yet researching Scottish ancestors can be challenging as the records, though similar, differ in unexpected ways. The Scottish legal system and even naming traditions also vary, which can create confusion.

This talk takes a broad overview of family history in Scotland, exploring these differences and offering explanations and advice on tracing ancestors there.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.

Events: November 2022

ONLINE Branching Out: Methodist Ancestors
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 10 November 2022, from 10.00am to 11.00am
£5.00

Methodism grew from its 18th century roots as travelling preachers spread the word to all corners of the country and the people of County Durham were very receptive. By the end of the 19th century, Methodist chapels had sprung up in many towns and villages. Given this popularity, many of us have Methodist ancestors, but they can be hard to trace. The records are not as straightforward or easy to find as those for the Church of England, but they do exist and can be immensely useful.

This talk will help you get started in finding and using them.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Branching Out: Methodist Ancestors
by Dawn Layland, archivist
Thursday 10 November 2022, from 6.00pm to 7.00pm
£5.00

Methodism grew from its 18th century roots as travelling preachers spread the word to all corners of the country and the people of County Durham were very receptive. By the end of the 19th century, Methodist chapels had sprung up in many towns and villages. Given this popularity, many of us have Methodist ancestors, but they can be hard to trace. The records are not as straightforward or easy to find as those for the Church of England, but they do exist and can be immensely useful.

This talk will help you get started in finding and using them.

This session is hosted on Zoom.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join this event online.


ONLINE Third Thursday Talk: 'Margaret Farrington - a tale of sociability and sanity in Georgian Britain'
by Richard Pears, architectural historian
Thursday 17 November 2022, from 10.30am to 11.30am
£0.00

Margaret Farrington (1725-98), born in Newcastle to a respected Anglican clergyman and his wife, enjoyed the polite entertainments and socialising of Georgian London. This was cut short by her diagnosis of lunacy in 1765 and she returned to the North East to be cared for by her extended family until her death at Lamesley, near Gateshead in 1798.

Her life has been reconstructed entirely from archive sources, including an inventory of her possessions which draws a picture of her life in a well-appointed residence near Oxford Street, and discovering the familial ties that rescued her from the horrors of what passed for mental health treatments in public asylums and private madhouses.

This free event is hosted on Zoom (donations welcome, by optional payment link).
Advance booking essential.
Your booking confirmation email will contain instructions how to join the event online.


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