Who do you think you are? Vivacity offers courses to help you discover your family history

Joan and Freda
Joan and Freda
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Family history courses available through Vivacity’s Archives Service at Peterborough Central Library are returning.

The courses are designed to give complete beginners the skills and tools they need to learn about their family history.

The first of the four week courses begins on Wednesday, September 20 and costs £20 up front.

The study of genealogy has gained increasing popularity ever since the advent of BBC’s regular series ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ which has showcased a number of celebrities discovering surprising truths about their family’s history.

Harry Potter Actor Warwick Davies (who lives in Yaxley) discovered an ancestor who lived a double life during the Victorian era – something never discovered until now.

In Peterborough, Vivacity’s Archives Service has been able to reconnect numerous families with stories from their past – stories that may have otherwise been forgotten.

Joan and Freda Lacey from Lincolnshire discovered the story of their father, Gunner Joseph Drewery, who served with the Tank Corps in Egypt during World War One.

Being reconnected with the original handwriting of her father from over 100 years ago, in a tea stall guest book from Peterborough East station, Joan said: “It was wonderful to see what my father wrote. I knew nothing about his time at Peterborough East Station and it is comforting to know that someone was looking after the servicemen on their way to and from the front.”

The four-week course, which requires basic computer skills, covers the fundamentals of using Vivacity’s Archives Service, with a mixture of presentations and hands-on learning.

By the end of the course attendees will have an understanding of how Vivacity’s Archives Service works, how to interpret birth, marriage and death records, census enumerator books and parish registers.

Attendees will also receive a certificate of completion at the end of the course.

Vivacity archives manager Stacey Kennedy said: “The experience you get from visiting an archive is completely different from, say, a museum which displays a specific selection of objects to tell a story as interpreted by a curator.

“Archives are much more like a jigsaw puzzle – it’s up to the archive user to put the pieces together and discover their own story.

“Vivacity’s Archives Service is a veritable treasure trove with over 700ms of shelving containing archival material plus microfilmed parish registers for Peterborough which record baptisms, marriages and deaths from the last five hundred years – any of which could provide clues about the history of someone’s family.

“It’s what makes researching something like family history so exciting – you never know what you might discover at any given moment.”

Vivacity’s Family History Courses have extremely limited spaces.

To book a place, call 01733 864160 or visit the Local Studies & Archives Department in Peterborough Central Library during opening hours.

Visit vivacity-peterborough.com or search ‘Vivacity Family History’ for more details.