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Last Updated: Friday, 7 May, 2004, 05:05 GMT 06:05 UK
Archives open to family historians
National Archives old family photo
The National Archives can advise on conserving photos
Britons are being encouraged to dig up their family trees, as the National Archives offers free advice on scouring its 1,000 years of records.

The National Archives holds central government and law court records dating back to the 11th century.

Family History Week, running from 8 May, will offer a comprehensive guide to using the collection and general advice on tracing a family tree.

The National Archives' Sam Evans said the week's events are particularly suited to people starting out on their quest, with experts offering a one-to-one "surgery" on the opening day.

The arrival of the internet has prompted a family history boom, Miss Evans said.

"When people start doing it, it becomes quite addictive. It's the thrill of the chase," she said.

"It is exciting to find skeletons in the cupboard, what grandma has been keeping tight-lipped about. People uncover quite amazing stories, and even if they don't this does give them a real sense of identity."

Spanning centuries

During the week, there will be talks on using the Archives' records, which include World War I Army records, emigration, census, apprenticeship, Royal and Merchant seaman and railway staff records, and slave registers.

There will also be sessions on using resources accessible online, including the 1901 census and more than one million wills spanning six centuries.

There will also be guidance on reading old handwriting and house history.

The National Archives also runs the Family Records Centre in north London, in conjunction with the Office for National Statistics.

The Family Records Centre holds census information from 1841, wills, and birth, death and marriage certificates.

Family History Week is free and open from 8 May until 14 May at the National Archives, Kew, West London.


SEE ALSO:
Covenant website dispels myths
22 May 03  |  Northern Ireland
Family history gets online boost
19 Dec 03  |  Technology
Online access to Scots wills
23 Oct 03  |  Scotland


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