Your Life and Times: Getting started at Gloucestershire Archives
HISTORICAL research has exploded over the last few years.
Family History has led the way but increasingly there has been a desire to find the things that our forefathers and their peers did to shape their world.
Be it military, social or industrial there is something for everyone.
You may wonder how to go about this once you have collated your personal items. There are many books, magazines and websites that will help you to get started but it is always good to discuss your research with another person, especially someone with a bit of practical experience.
Gloucestershire Family History Society's Research Centre in Alvin Street, Gloucester, is an excellent place to begin. The volunteers who run the centre are all experienced researchers and are always happy to help "newbies" to start their own work.
The centre is open to everyone and has free access to many of the main family history websites together with a wide range of indexes and a library.
Many of the volunteers have experience of researching outside Gloucestershire so even if your family isn't local they will be able to help.
The Family History Society itself has regular meetings and you can find out more about these and the Research Centre's facilities on the Society's website (www.gfhs.org.uk).
Conveniently Gloucestershire County Council's Archives service shares the same site in Alvin Street. It preserves and makes available the county's written heritage and is open to anyone who wants to find out more about their Gloucestershire family or the area in which they live. It holds some local records dating back to the 12th Century as well as many sources like parish registers and wills which are essential for research into family history.
Members of staff working in the public searchroom can help you to get started or you can arrange a session with a "buddy" if you'd prefer one-to-one support. Access to the archives is free, although a charge is made if you use the car park or take copies of the documents – you will need to register as a researcher when you arrive so you should bring some identification with you. The Archives' website will tell you much more about using the service while the online catalogue and searchable database will help you to start your research (www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/ archives).
Members of the archives staff, often working with the Family History Society, provide a variety of taught sessions throughout the year which cover many of the sources that you'll encounter when you research your own family's history. Although the records you work on during each session relate specifically to Gloucestershire, you can apply much of what you learn to the same source in a different county, so these sessions are useful even if your family isn't local. The archives website includes information about events, tours and courses – you can book places online or you can call in for more information.