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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: May 2019

Introduction to Palaeography: A four week course

Thursday evenings, from 6.00pm to 8.00pm on 2, 9, 16 and 23 May 2019
Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham DH1 5UL
£40.00

Save £8 when you book all four sessions of our May palaeography course at the same time. Individual sessions cost £12, only £40 for the complete course.

Our four week palaeography course is led by one of our archivists and is perfect for family and local historians looking to get the most out of studying documents that were created before the 20th century.

The course covers the basics of how to understand handwriting styles from the 16th to the 19th century. Each week the course provides a background to the types of handwriting that were prevalent in each of these four centuries while the course will also provide a variety of examples of original documents from each century (mostly drawn from our collections). The majority of each session will focus on interactive activities to help participants understand how to read and understand these documents with personal and friendly guidance from our archivist.

Details of each session are listed separately on this page.

This event has started; we are no longer taking bookings.


Introduction to Palaeography: A four week course

Friday mornings, from 10.00am to 12 noon on 3, 10, 17 and 24 May 2019
Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham DH1 5UL
£40.00

Save £8 when you book all four sessions of our May palaeography course at the same time. Individual sessions cost £12, only £40 for the complete course.

Our four week palaeography course is led by one of our archivists and is perfect for family and local historians looking to get the most out of studying documents that were created before the 20th century.

The course covers the basics of how to understand handwriting styles from the 16th to the 19th century. Each week the course provides a background to the types of handwriting that were prevalent in each of these four centuries while the course will also provide a variety of examples of original documents from each century (mostly drawn from our collections). The majority of each session will focus on interactive activities to help participants understand how to read and understand these documents with personal and friendly guidance from our archivist.

Details of each session are listed separately on this page.

This event has started; we are no longer taking bookings.


Family History for Beginners

Tuesday evenings, from 6.00pm to 8.00pm on 7, 14 and 21 May 2019
Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham DH1 5UL
£30.00

Back by popular demand, this three week course is led by one of our archivists and is perfect for budding genealogists looking for some help getting started on your family tree.

The course covers the basics of family history, including civil registration, the census and parish registers. As well as looking at examples of each (drawn from our collections), there will be interactive activities to help participants understand how to use them for family history and opportunities for friendly advice from the tutor.

This event has started; we are no longer taking bookings.


Branching Out: Guide to Online Sources

Thursday 23 May 2019, from 10.00am to 12 noon
Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham DH1 5UL
£10.00

There have never been more websites clamouring for a slice of the genealogy market. But how do you find your way through the maze of offers and advertising claims?

This talk looks at the sites currently available, compares the big names and shows you what else is available, including where records may be accessed for free.


Introduction to Palaeography: Week 4 - Court hand

Thursday 23 May 2019, from 6.00pm to 8.00pm
Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham DH1 5UL
£12.00

This is the last session in our May palaeography course. Led by one of our archivists it is perfect for family and local historians looking to get the most out of studying documents that were created before the 20th century.

The course covers the basics of how to understand handwriting styles from the 16th to the 19th century. Each week the course provides a background to the types of handwriting that were prevalent in each of these four centuries while the course will also provide a variety of examples of original documents from each century (mostly drawn from our collections). The majority of each session will focus on interactive activities to help participants understand how to read and understand these documents with personal and friendly guidance from our archivist.

Week 4 considers the more formal court handwriting style which was also commonly encountered in the 16th and 17th century. Again we will be working from a model alphabet of court hand and the first two documents will again explore the Court of Wards and Liveries auctioning off orphans to rich courtiers and speculators while finally looking at a document from the Strathmore estate collection which attempts to establish the boundaries of the Streatlam estate.

Book an individual session here or save £8 by booking the complete four-week course (listed separately).


Introduction to Palaeography: Week 4 - Court hand

Friday 24 May 2019, from 10.00am to 12 noon
Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham DH1 5UL
£12.00

This is the last session in our May palaeography course. Led by one of our archivists it is perfect for family and local historians looking to get the most out of studying documents that were created before the 20th century.

The course covers the basics of how to understand handwriting styles from the 16th to the 19th century. Each week the course provides a background to the types of handwriting that were prevalent in each of these four centuries while the course will also provide a variety of examples of original documents from each century (mostly drawn from our collections). The majority of each session will focus on interactive activities to help participants understand how to read and understand these documents with personal and friendly guidance from our archivist.

Week 4 considers the more formal court handwriting style which was also commonly encountered in the 16th and 17th century. Again we will be working from a model alphabet of court hand and the first two documents will again explore the Court of Wards and Liveries auctioning off orphans to rich courtiers and speculators while finally looking at a document from the Strathmore estate collection which attempts to establish the boundaries of the Streatlam estate.

Book an individual session here or save £8 by booking the complete four-week course (listed separately).

Events: June 2019

Third Thursday Talk: 'Recusancy and Conformity: The Salvins of Croxdale, c.1500-1663'
by Dr Margaret Harvey, historian
Thursday, 27 June 2019, from 6.00pm to 7.00pm
Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham DH1 5UL
£0.00

The Salvins of Croxdale are always assumed to have been continuously staunch Catholics. In fact after the Northern Rebellion of 1569 the heads of the family nearly always conformed, though their wives were always recusants, along with many of their children.

This lecture will discuss how they preserved their estate and what expedients they used to survive when many other families of similar type did not.

This event is free (donations welcome on the day).

Advance booking essential.

Events: July 2019

Third Thursday Talk: 'Only Connect - Using fiction to bring local history to a wider audience'
by Val Scully, author
Thursday 18 July 2019, from 6.30pm to 8.00pm
Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham DH1 5UL
£5.00

Val Scully was a teacher on Tyneside: since she started volunteering at Gibside (National Trust) she has developed her interest in the history of the Gibside Estate and the wider Derwent Valley.

She has written two historical novels based on characters and events in the eighteenth and nineteenth century history of the area - My Name is Eleanor and Molly Bowes - and will talk about writing historical fiction with a didactic purpose.

Events: September 2019

Family History for Beginners

Thursday evenings, from 6.00pm to 8.00pm on 12, 19 and 26 September 2019
Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham DH1 5UL
£30.00

Back by popular demand, this three week course is led by one of our archivists and is perfect for budding genealogists looking for some help getting started on your family tree.

The course covers the basics of family history, including civil registration, the census and parish registers. As well as looking at examples of each (drawn from our collections), there will be interactive activities to help participants understand how to use them for family history and opportunities for friendly advice from the tutor.


Family History for Beginners

Friday mornings, from 10.00am to 12 noon on 13, 20 and 27 September 2019
Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham DH1 5UL
£30.00

Back by popular demand, this three week course is led by one of our archivists and is perfect for budding genealogists looking for some help getting started on your family tree.

The course covers the basics of family history, including civil registration, the census and parish registers. As well as looking at examples of each (drawn from our collections), there will be interactive activities to help participants understand how to use them for family history and opportunities for friendly advice from the tutor.


Third Thursday Talk: 'An Introduction to Archive Conservation'
by Lindsey Gibson and Zoe Ross, conservators
Thursday 19 September 2019, from 12.30pm to 1.15pm
Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham DH1 5UL
£0.00

Learn about archive conservation processes and bring your own treasured records for free conservation advice.

Our archive conservators will provide a brief overview of the causes of damage and deterioration of archives, and the conservation methods employed at the record office.

This event is free (donations welcome on the day).

Advance booking essential.


Branching Out: Illegitimacy, Divorce and Adoption

Tuesday 24 September 2019, from 6.00pm to 8.00pm
Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham DH1 5UL
£10.00

Our ancestors lived in a world with very different laws around marriage and family. Children born out of wedlock faced a lifetime of stigma and couples whose marriage had broken down were often unable to separate without heavy legal costs, if at all.

This talk looks at the social climate of the time, what records survive and how we can use them to find out more.


Branching Out: Illegitimacy, Divorce and Adoption

Thursday 26 September 2019, from 10.00am to 12 noon
Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham DH1 5UL
£10.00

Our ancestors lived in a world with very different laws around marriage and family. Children born out of wedlock faced a lifetime of stigma and couples whose marriage had broken down were often unable to separate without heavy legal costs, if at all.

This talk looks at the social climate of the time, what records survive and how we can use them to find out more.

Events: October 2019

Branching Out: Emigration and Immigration

Thursday 17 October 2019, from 10.00am to 12 noon
Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham DH1 5UL
£10.00

Many of us have ancestors who left England for foreign climes or arrived here from elsewhere. But how do we find out more?

This talk looks at general patterns of emigration and immigration, what records survive and how we can use them to find out more.


Branching Out: Emigration and Immigration

Thursday 17 October 2019, from 6.00pm to 8.00pm
Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham DH1 5UL
£10.00

Many of us have ancestors who left England for foreign climes or arrived here from elsewhere. But how do we find out more?

This talk looks at general patterns of emigration and immigration, what records survive and how we can use them to find out more.

Events: November 2019

Third Thursday Talk: 'Wonders of the River Wear' - meticulously mapped in 1819, on fire in 1845
by Gill Parkes, archivist
Thursday 21 November 2019, from 6.30pm to 8.00pm
Durham County Record Office, County Hall, Durham DH1 5UL
£5.00

This talk will focus on two very different but fascinating aspects of the River Wear's history in the late Georgian and early Victorian period.

We will start by celebrating the 200th anniversary of seven stunning River Wear maps produced by the surveyor Francis Giles (1787-1847), working under the direction of famous civil engineer John Rennie. Find out why the maps were made, admire the colours and cartographic detail, and discover why they have been forgotten for so long.

Then hear about a natural phenomenon that drew huge crowds to Durham's Framwellgate Bridge each evening in the summer of 1845.


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