People hoping to kick off 2021 by finding out more about what lurks in their family tree can do so through new online sessions with Durham County Record Office.

Following a series of successful online taster sessions last year, the Record Office is running an online family history course aimed at people who’ve thought about tracing their ancestors but are wondering what would be involved or where to get started.

The course will comprise of three talks, which are all bookable individually, and will explore some of the sources that family historians use and show how archives held at the Record Office can help in their search.

Participants will have a choice of morning or evening sessions.

The course begins with a session on civil registration with sessions from 10am to 11am and 6pm to 7pm on Tuesday 12 January.

Then on Tuesday 19 January there will be a session on the census, with those taking part able to join in at either 10am to 11am or 6pm to 7pm.

And sessions on researching parish registers will take place from 10am to 11am and 6pm to 7pm on Tuesday 26 January.

Cllr Joy Allen, Cabinet member for transformation, culture and tourism at Durham County Council, said: “For anyone hoping to find out more about how to research their ancestors, these sessions will be ideal in taking the first steps to learn how to do so.

“Record Office staff are experts in this area and I’m sure those taking part will enjoy discovering more details about the lives led by people in their family tree.

“It is a particularly good time to learn how to research family history, as residents who are library members can currently access the popular Ancestry database from the comfort of their own home.”

The Record Office is also running a talk for people with more experience as part of its regular Branching Out programme. This is a series of monthly talks on different topics, with January’s talk about Irish Ancestors.

It takes place on Thursday 28 January and participants will again have a choice of morning or evening sessions either at 10am to 11am or 6pm to 7pm.

All sessions cost £5 each and can be booked using the Durham County Record Office’s online shop which is at https://recordofficeshop.durham.gov.uk/pgEventResult

Booking in advance is essential in order to receive the joining link.

Early booking is advised as there are limited places available.

As well as the family history course sessions, a talk entitled Trouble at the Gates – the Trials and Tribulations of Tollgate Keepers will be given by archivist David Butler on Thursday 21 January from 10.30am to 11.30am.

The free online talk will hope to build on the success of the Record Office’s session on Hetton Railway Company in November 2020, which was attended by over 100 people.

To book a place go to https://recordofficeshop.durham.gov.uk/pgEventResult.