Session 9 – Cemeteries

Last week we looked at cemeteries and how they fit into the idea of Urban Archaeology. We discussed the ways that cemeteries and graveyards had developed over time, beginning with burial grounds and ending with today’s municipal cemeteries. We used the example of St. Winifred’s Church in Branscombe to talk about how the development of a community and a church can be traced through time by looking at the locations of graves in a graveyard.

Gareth gave examples of different types of headstones that you might find in a graveyard or cemetery, and we talked about how different time periods can be identified from key features found on headstones and memorials.

We used printouts from the Council of Scottish Archaeology’s handbook for recording graveyards, and also worked through their recording and condition survey sheets for headstones. This handbook really is worth printing and taking with you if you plan to visit and record a graveyard or cemetery. It is free and available online (see the Powerpoint below for more information).

As an exercise, we all had a go at identifying periods of a selection of graves that we had removed the dates from.

This is the presentation that we gave:

Session 8 Add-on – Genealogy and Family History

As an add-on to Session 8, we will be talking about Family History and Genealogy. This topic isn’t included in the Urban Archaeology topic outline for the module, but as a class you have expressed an interest in options for researching family history using online resources and databases and also in identifying open source, free or low cost options. So that’s exactly what this presentation aims to do!

Urban Archaeology: Session 8 (Add-on) – Genealogy & Family History

Genealogy & Family History

  • Genealogy…

o   The construction of a family tree through research

  • Family History is…

o   The writing of a biography of a series of related ancestors of common genealogy


o   GENUKI Includes details of County Record Offices

o   Cyndi’s List LOTS of useful links to software, databases and resources

o   Genealogy Mailing Lists by John Fuller

o   LookupUK Resource Centre for finding friends or relatives

  • Gov’t repositories:

o   General Register Office

o   The National Archives

  • Libraries:

o   British Library for Family Historians

o   National Library of Scotland

o   National Library of Wales

o   National Library of Ireland

  • National Repositories:

o   College of Arms

o   National Maritime Museum – PORT. Catalogue of maritime-related resources

o   ArchivesHub – 20,000 archives in UK’s universities and colleges

o   ARCHON (Archives On-line). – Managed by the National Archives

o   British History Online – British historical sources, inc. text and information about people, places and businesses from the 12th century to the present day. Built by the Institute of Historical Research and the History of Parliament

o   Moving Here – a National Archive initiative of 150,000 free images. Mostly from four communities coming into Britain since 1800s: Jewish, Irish, Caribbean, South Asian

  • Useful Organisations:

o   Federation of Family History Societies.

o   Scottish Association of Family History Societies

o   Family History Societies – More Family History Societies indexed at GENUKI

o   New England Historic Genealogical Society, oldest and largest genealogical society in the USA

o   Institute of Heraldic & Genealogical Studies

o   The Heraldry Society – covers heraldry, armory, chivalry, genealogy and allied subjects

o   The Heraldry Society of Scotland

o   AGRA – Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives

  • Online Databases:

o – entire copy of the indexes of Births, Marriages and Deaths for England and Wales from 1837 to 2001 – small charge for copies

o   Family Search site (LDS Church) – largest collection of free family history, family tree and genealogy records

o   The Origins Network – 80 million + British and Irish genealogical records

o   Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt of Honour Register – personal and service details for the 1.7 million members of the Commonwealth forces who died in the First or Second World Wars

o   Burke’s Peerage and Gentry – genealogical records of Britain’s titled and landed families throughout the centuries. Good for terms related to British history, society and tradition

o   The Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum at Caernarfon

o   The Monumental Brass Society – brasses and the MBS’s activities

o   Police Orders – police orders of police officers serving in London’s Metropolitan Police Service. From 1891-1895 and 1899-1932. Includes joined, resigned, retired, died, transfers and medals.

o   The Bookplate Society

o   Naval Biographical Database – People and ships associated with the Royal Navy since 1660. Charges.

o   Vision of Britain – by Great Britain Historical Geographic Information System (GBH GIS).  Uses 200 years of UK Census statistics, assorted historic maps and gazetteers and the observations of travel writers from as early as the 11th century

  • Get someone to do it for you!
  • General resources relating to a whole county:
  • Costs money. Useful if you’re coming up against Latin texts!
  • Association of Genealogists Researchers in Archives (AGRA) has a list of members who will do research,

Types of Resources

o   Bibliographies

o   Clergy

o   Histories

o   Maps

o   Newspapers

o   Place Names

o   Record Office Guides

o   Visitations

o   Wills – some online at , then try National Will Index at . Most have to be accessed from (can be expensive).

  • Local:

o   Local histories, church guides, etc.

  • Registers:

o   Births, marriages, deaths, held by General Register Office (1837 onwards). Each certificate costs just under £10. More and more available free through: Paid online versions available here:,,, or

o   General indexes such as Boyd’s Marriage Index and the International Genealogical Index. Before the mid-1800s, you can look at parish registers, some go back to 1500s. Many non-conformist registers here: and

o   There is the International Genealogical Index (IGI) – An index of c.800 million births, baptisms and marriages from around the world, at

o   Name indexes. E.g. Census indexes for England and Wales on The National Archives website, Scottish census indexes at Scotland’s People, Irish censuses,

  • Monumental Inscriptions
  • Censuses

o   1911,1901,1891, 1881, 1871,1861 1851, 1841.  Often microfilms or microfiche of census returns held by County Record Offices, Local Libraries or the Society of Genealogists. A complete set for England and Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands is free at The National Archives in Kew,  The Scottish returns for 1841 to 1911 are available at Scotland’s People Centre in Edinburgh,

  • Lists:

o   Lists of people living in counties such as Directories and Poll Books (those who voted in Parliamentary elections, 1690s onwards).

o   Provincial town trade directories – including street lists, such as Kelly’s Directory. Available from 1770s onwards.

o   National and county trade directories. Available from 1780s onwards. More details from 1840s onwards.

Family History – Beginners’ guides



o   Herber, M. 2005. Ancestral Trails, Alan Sutton

o   Barrat, N. 2008. Who Do You Think You Are? Encyclopedia of Genealogy, Harper Collins

§  E.g. The Hampshire Genealogical Society

Family History – Major websites

  • Major Websites:






o   National Archives Discovery website

Family History – Finding support

  • Social Network Sites:

o   Roots Web Mailing Lists

o   The Guild of One-Name Studies – Register the surnames you are researching to see if anyone else is doing the same thing!

Family History – On your computer

  • Data formats:

o   GENCOM (most common)

o   GedML (XML-based)

o   FamilyML (XML-based)

  • Don’t worry if you’ve been using a spreadsheet up until now!
  • GRAMPS – free, but bit of work needed initially to learn how to use

Software to build family trees


  • FamilyTreeBuilder – free, with paid Premium version (that you can sign up to at any point in using the free version). Easy to use, very popular


  • GEDitCOM II – free, this software is for Macs


  • Web Family Tree – free, really easy to use


Software to visualise family trees

  • Geneaquilts – advanced, great for visualising large genealogy datasets


  • Misbach Enterprises – specialises in making family tree charts. They generally charge for this service, but there are some nice free charts you can download and use


Software to visualise family trees

  • GedView – a way to look through GEDCOM files on your PC. If you’ve downloaded or been sent any files from other researchers, you can use this software to navigate the data


  • GedView for iPads, iPhones, etc. – costs £2.49, great to look at your work on a mobile device


Software to share family trees

  • Websites:

o   GED-GEN for making websites, works with any GEDCOM files

The powerpoint presentation: