LibraryThing – #LibrariesWeek

I joined LibraryThing back in October 2005, paying the fee of $25 for a lifetime account which enabled me to list more than 200 books. (The fee was removed circa 2019).

My plan was to catalogue all of my books, reading lists plus the other material relevant, essentially things like microfiche and data CD’s. You can view my LibraryThing Profile HERE.

I have set my books up into collections:

  • My Library – Books that I own
  • Wish List – Potential future reading
  • Audio, DVD and Video (and I have an occasional  audio tape!)
  • To Read – the to be read list
  • Read, but un-owned – those that I have borrowed from friends or the library or books that I owned but subsequently donated
  • Book Reviews
  • SPG – These are typically my husband’s book which are essentially about fish and fishing
  • Mum’s – These are my late Mum’s and are currently a work in progress
  • Current Library Books – (in an attempt to track books and reduce library fines!)

I also use Tags – In all there are 53, but here is a few – Fiction, History, Genealogy, Biography, Memoir, eBooks, Cookery Food & Drink, DNA, Italy, Historical Fiction, Quilts etc. You can see my Tags HERE.

You can read about LibraryThing HERE and open an account, free of charge to catalogue your own books. There is an App that can be downloaded and is available for both iOS and Android platform. It is also possible to Import and Export from LibraryThing. Information can be found HERE


Libraries Week takes place in the UK from 5 – 10  October. You can read more HERE. You can become a lifelong library supporter – more details HERE

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Library Memories #LibrariesWeek

An unidentified library. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

As I looked for something yesterday I came across my school reports from my middle school. Along with them was a letter thanking me for a donation to the school library, the year I left middle school, which was 1981.

The middle school did not have a library. I know that sound crazy, especially when I have said I made a donation to it and if no library then why this post? I cannot recall if the school was short on space, but the books that you would have expected to be in a library were on shelves which ran around the walls on the landing, opposite the stairs.

The book I donated to the book was about the Philippines. The school had a very good selection of books that were about numerous global locations. I seem to recall having to create a worldwide project for geography, which likely explains the book I selected.

In comparison, my senior school did have a library. It was not huge, but the school only had 1200 pupils. I spent quite a lot of time there, especially over the lunch period clutching my school diary which I have written about before. It was the beginning of my journal writing journey; and if you are interested you can read that post HERE. It was here that I developed my writing strategy, which at this point was not perfect, but it has developed further, over the years, whether that was homework, lesson notes, reports, thesis planning and post graduate work. I would head to the library and quickly scope out what work I needed to do and when it was to be done by. I would have preferred to remain in the class room, but that was not an option, so the next best place was the library as that was relatively quiet. I assume there was a librarian, but I don’t recall one.

Of course I was at school before the days of smart phones, actually it was the days before mobile phones now I think about it, given that, it is little wonder that I have no photographs of the library and today’s image is from the image site Unsplash.


Libraries Week takes place in the UK from 5 – 10  October. You can read more HERE. You can become a lifelong library supporter – more details HERE

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Favourite Genealogical Library – Society of Genealogists #LibrariesWeek

Cover of the Library guide, purchased 1989. From the collection of Julie Goucher

The ultimate genealogical library  in the UK in my view is the Society of Genealogists. I first visited in 1989 and purchased a small booklet about the Society which provided a brief guide; the location and directions, what is available to visitors across three floors. It offered guidance on preparing for a visit and included a small map, identifying where about, on each floor various things are. The booklet proved invaluable.

I did not visit for a number of years, but upon restarting visits, I undertook a library tour. These are given free of charge and really help to familiarise yourself with the material and where it is. I also renewed my membership which meant that I could visit as often as I wished, which was frequently as I lived within 40 minutes of London. Upon moving to the south west of England, I sadly lapsed my membership, work pressures, and a much longer journey made a visit more tricky. A changing work schedule meant that I could rejoin and was very pleased I did, even though I have moved to the other end of the country and have a longer journey to London, but a quicker one.

The Society has a website and whilst it is not as slick as some, it is a good genealogical resource, including holding a continually growing members area with an amazing amount of material for the genealogist and those who are working on specific projects, including One-Name Studies. The Society also has a robust educational platform, of course the current situation means that they have other elements to consider beyond the worries of handouts and a prompt lecturer!

The Society, moved from no online meetings to a very successful online provision for members and non-members. I was delighted that was to be the case. One of the first sessions I heard was looking at the numerous collections available, I then followed that up with Special Collections; both of these were offered and given by the SOG, I have also attended another sessions and several of the lunchtime chat’s. The SOG has indeed embraced their new opportunity. Lock down also meant that the volunteers have been very productive in working through material, indexing from digital images with the aim of getting the material online and into the members room.

Why not visit the Society of Genealogists website and explore .


Libraries Week takes place in the UK from 5 -10  October. You can read more HERE. You can become a lifelong library supporter – more details HERE

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Pharos One-Name Studies & Surname Courses

© Julie Goucher – September 2020

I hope you all like the new image, it is not a Picasso, but was enjoyable to create. The hardest bit, making sure that I have the little squares nice and tidy. Given that I am clumsy, you can guarantee that I knock the cutting mat, sending little alphabet tiles everywhere! The image reflects the three one-name (Surname) courses that I teach and together, they offer a layered learning approach.

The Introduction course (901) looks at the  first steps of a study, thinking about the types of surnames, the numbers of a study and the history of surnames are just a few of the elements covered. The Practicalities of a One-Name Studies course (903) looks at the practical element of a study, spreadsheets, various software and online trees, plus much more. The last course currently is the Advanced course (902) which looks at, to name a few, surname case studies, plus writing, sharing and getting published.

The courses are either 5 or 6 weeks, all have a weekly chats, with the Practicalities course having a practice week and the Advanced course a reading & research week. The Introduction and the Practicalities course both run twice a year and the Advanced course currently runs once a year. Even though the courses have all run previously, there is always upbeat learning, sharing of material and a camaraderie that Guild of One-Name Studies members will recognise.

For those of you who I might have tempted and are wondering where to start, I recommend you have a look through the numerous surname posts I have written, all of which can be found HERE and download the Surname Worksheet and then read the individual course information, which you can access by clicking the links above. If you have any questions, please do leave a comment.

Posted in Advanced One-Name Studies (Pharos Course 902), Genealogy, Introduction to One-Name Studies (Pharos course 901), One-Name Studies, Practicalities of a One-Name Studies (Pharos Course 903) | Leave a comment

Genealogical Libraries – #LibrariesWeek

I talked about Guildford library yesterday and we stay with that location for today’s post.

Guildford library housed, when I began my genealogical and local history research, a rather fantastic set of local history material located on the top floor of the library. Despite it’s location it was in fact part of the Surrey Records Office, which also housed material at the Muniment Room, Guildford and at Kingston upon Thames.

I remember tentatively reaching the top floor and  found there was an open section of local history books etc and a enclosed area which housed the archive element of the collection. I explained to the librarian, who was called Mavis, what I wanted and suddenly a new world of material was available to me. Mavis was an inspirational individual, had she been less helpful or less welcoming I might not have ever gone back, but she was fantastic and it was her actions that set me on the pathway of genealogy, family and local history. Every genealogist should have a Mavis in their memory bank!

It was Mavis who shared my joy when I located my Great Grandmother, aged 3 on the 1881 Census. What was so magical, was that I remember my Great Grandmother, who allowed me to snuggle with her, aged 3, when I visited with my Mum and Grandparents. By then, Granny as she was known was an elderly lady in her 90’s and living with her eldest daughter (my Grandfather’s sister) and her husband. I have many happy memories of those visits both as a snuggling 3 years old and as an note book holding adult, recording numerous genealogical notes.

As I reflected when I wrote this post, we have come a long way since then. At the time, the latest Census available was 1881. I remember the subsequent release of each of the 1891, 1901 and 1911 Census, and of course, the 1921 Census release is just around the corner. These days, we can search our census records from the comfort of our homes, dressed in our PJ’s if we like. In the days of my experience of locating Granny in the 1881 Census, we had to visit the archives to search those Census materials. We extracted the film from the box and loaded it to the reader, threading the film. We moved through the film until we found who we wanted to locate, some of us letting out a small exclamation of “got you!” Those of us who were regulars at the Guildford local studies library recognised each other and often enjoyed conversations and shared the joy of those “got you!” moments.

I spent many hours at that local studies library, researching my Surrey family and those from the parishes of North Hampshire. I was very lucky to have such easy access to such a repository. Years later the library moved across to the newly build Surrey History Centre and whilst it was great to have everything in the new one stop shop for Surrey heritage, those days with Mavis and the other staff were great, the knowledge of the material and locations was second to none. They were enjoyable years, but whether it is the years of the late 1980’s or yesterday, we are lucky to have the expertise of librarians and archivists. The contribution they make is huge and they are often under valued.


Libraries Week takes place in the UK from 5 – 10  October. You can read more HERE. You can become a lifelong library supporter – more details HERE

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Library Memories – #LibrariesWeek

When I close my eyes I can still remember Guildford library(1); as it was when I was a child. The library didn’t just have books, but a fascinating card system which housed the card from the book that subsequently was inserted into a small card folder. When you returned books, you were given round Cardboard discs that you could exchange for books. The books had a stamp inserted in the front, so you knew when to return them. The whole experience was wonderful to my childhood self. Occasionally, the librarian allowed me to stamp out the books, something that just added to the wonderful experience.

Mum would take me to the library frequently, there I could immerse myself in another world. It wasn’t just the library that fed my book habit. Each week I was allowed to choose a new book, from Woolworths or WH Smiths, I still have some of those books, complete in some series with the price ticket of 12p, a lot for the early 1970’s. Before I could read, both my maternal Grandmother and Mum would read to me. We explored the fictional lives of the characters within the pages of Enid Blyton books amongst others, some books read repeatedly. I would fall asleep to dream of the wonders of Rupert the Bear (2), Peter Rabbit (3) or Noddy(4)

When we moved in together, my now husband was horrified at the boxes of books. His face was picture of horror as the boxes filled our home. Over the years since, I have had several book culls, to charity shops and friends. Even now I have way to many books and I am in the middle of the latest cull, much to my husband’s relief. Of course the cull is simply to make room for the several stacks of books that are on my office floor.

Then along came a Kindle, from Amazon. Whilst the whole experience of having a book in your hand is wonderful; the feel and smell of books triggers happy memories, alas they take up space, whereas a Kindle has an invisible electronic room, ready to be filled with books. I only download to my iPad the books I am currently reading, and a few reference type books. I won’t share how many Kindle books there are, but let’s just say I have a substantial “few”.

I have never grown tired of books. If I am not buying books, I am reading books, or adding them to my to be read list. My iPhone’s camera role is filled with images of book covers, saved so I do not forget to check out a book.

You can never have too many books, just too few book cases!

  • (1) Guildford is located in Surrey, England
  • (2) Rupert the Bear by Mary Tourtel (formerly Caldwell)
  • (3) Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
  • (4) Noddy by Enid Blyton
  • (5) Kindle by Amazon


Libraries Week takes place in the UK from 5 – 10  October. You can read more HERE. You can become a lifelong library supporter – more details HERE

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Guild of One-Name Studies Widening Horizons Seminar

Courtesy of the Guild of One-Name Studies – September 2020

The Guild of One-Name Studies is renowned for their quarterly seminars. COVID-19 has prevented seminars from taking place in the usual format.

This latest seminar is a collaboration with The Local Population Studies Society and launches on Wednesday 7th October at 8pm London (UK) time.

You can read about the webinar line up and register for ALL the various presentations HERE. The series is available to everyone FREE of charge and will be available for 14 days before becoming a Guild members’ benefit.

The first presentation, Mortality and Morbidity: a study of National Registration death certificates for two families 1837-2009 by Elizabeth Green is truly a fascinating account. All genealogists can most certainly benefit from hearing this fascinating talk, looking at one of the basic elements of genealogy. You will not look at death certificates in the same light again! I was fortunate to hear this talk a week or so ago and highly recommend it. It is in my top 5 of webinars for 2020, not only was the subject matter fascinating, but Elizabeth was delightful to listen to.

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Researching in European Ancestors – East and West

Over recent years I have given a number of lectures about researching in Europe, either in person or online. The one thing that is consistent across delivering the presentation in both formats is the amount of questions. I am not wanting to stop questions, all attendees learn by the asking of a question. I knew that what would be beneficial would be to have a longer session, though, it has to be said I always struggle to comply with the time because Europe is a fascinating subject.

The Society of Genealogists regularly books this talk and I deliver it in two parts, but there are always more questions. I always aim to ensure that everyone who attends any presentation or course that I teach walks away (or turn of their computer) with a piece of paper filled with notes and links, and is inspired to research their European forebears.

So, the next outing of this presentation is virtually with the Society of Genealogists on 15 October 2020 in an extended format providing attendees with two lectures, extended questions (and hopefully answers!) AND the option to leave the session with a work plan for future research that the attendee can begin to explore. You can read the session information and the time table on the SOG website by either clicking the image below or clicking HERE.

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Genealogy During COVID

Created September 2020 using

Like the rest of the world, I was at home during lock down, the furthest I went for 4 months was the end of the drive or the garden, so I had plenty of time to ponder and look at my genealogy. I even managed to whizz the vacuum cleaner round every now and again 🙂

Having made a mess of the marriage spreadsheet (and back-up) for England and Wales for my BUTCHER one-name study, I needed to spend about 20 hours fixing it. (Though as I typed this, I put years instead of hours, which is probably more accurate! 🙂 ). This was added to the list.

The next thing I wanted to get done was to do a data extraction from the catalogue of the Records Office for those counties in the south east in England – Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, and Kent, before moving onto other regions. The reason I started in this region was because my own Butcher family came from Surrey and Sussex, so with the material that I already had, I wanted to retrace my steps and see what I had and what I needed to obtain.

Sussex is a large county and has two records offices, West Sussex Records Office and East Sussex Records Office. The records office that is the most likely to hold material relating to my own family is the West Sussex records office and that is where I started my quest. I actually spent the entire lock down working on West Sussex material, the reason for which is two fold, firstly the catalogue system they use is called Calm and the descriptions they provided for each document is excellent.

In some cases, with material from their catalogue and my existing research I was able to build a substantial family tree, because all the data, when looked at, as a whole enabled me to confirm an already formed hypothesis or when considered with my own family knowledge confirmation of a family grouping. Of course, I still need to see the documents located at the records office, but the description being so comprehensive is the next best thing. I also used the time to focus on my to do list and see if there were any links between that and the catalogue extraction.

The issue of working in a surname project such as this means that you likely have individuals within a county who do not necessarily connect to your family, but what I did do was to focus on one town within the county, which in my case was Rudgwick. I then was able to use the material I had already from earlier research, family knowledge, parish records and the data extraction and to bring those different elements together. I will talk on this in the coming weeks as currently this piece of work is on a series of index cards!

Lockdown coincided with the breaking open of a new notebook. I may have mentioned before that I had used a Moleskine expanded – 400 pages. The notebook was used from the 24 March through until 28 July and contains the work from the West Sussex records office, which is rather handy.   My current notebook is the regular size and I am likely to finish that by the end of the month. The next expanded sitting on my desk, primed for action! The next records office to tackle is East Sussex and I shall not only extract notes of the surname Butcher, but also the house names and Rudgwick, in case there are some overlaps. Something to remember is that current boundaries do not reflect what was, therefore it is important to search both records offices and that means extending the search words.

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COVID-19 and what it has meant for Genealogy

Created September 2020 using

I am sure we all agree that 2020 has been a strange year. COVID-19 has moved from being a viral condition that had it’s focus on the Far East of the world and many of us, likely did not consider it back in December 2019 as a issue that would effect us. Our focus was likely on the festive season, with cooking, grocery shopping, present buying and then the wrapping of gifts.

Fast forward to the early part of 2020 and the focus was shifting, across Continental Europe and beyond. By the time early March arrived there was mentioning of COVID every day in the news, as the numbers of infections and sadly deaths rose and rose. Towards the end of mid March, the Prime Minister of the UK hit the pause button and we entered a lock down.

My neighbour recently commented to me that when it snows there is an silence that descends on our neighbourhoods and that same silence arrived with the lock down, she then said did I know what she meant? I agreed, I did know what she meant and I too had voiced something similar to my nearest and dearest, though I think he was not really interested!

Having entered the lock down, our focus shifted, mine certainly did. In fact in March I was teaching the new surnames course for Pharos Tutors and Teaching, Practicalities of a One-Name Study. The course concluded and I gathered my notes and tutor papers, returned them to the bookshelf and entered a note in my diary for July, when I wanted to do a review and make edits, ready for the next intake of the course in October.

Meanwhile, family history societies around the globe were cancelling meetings and gathering. There was a degree of uncertainty on how long any restrictions would last, but in the main, many societies made the decision to cancel events. For some organisations, they immediately moved events online. Others though were slower in doing so, not in reaching that conclusion, but getting the practicalities organised and doing work behind the scenes, testing platforms like Zoom and making decisions on what type of account they should purchase. There is quite a steep learning curve if you have never been involved in online events as an organiser.

If COVID has taught us nothing else, it has meant that genealogical and family history organisations have needed to evolve, in order to maintain a presence. In the last five years many organisations have been seeing a decline in their membership numbers. The meetings that local genealogical groups organised were still being attended by many members, but nowhere near the numbers of ten or 15 years ago. The decline probably due to the internet, but that is not all. Lets go back a step or two, as I make some general points.

When I began researching in the late 1980’s I was, without doubt one of the youngest at any meetings I attended. Genealogy was always considered something undertaken by those who were retired and perhaps, in the majority it was mostly, 30 years ago. The internet changed those demographics. Now, if you were retired 20 years ago then the likelihood of you wanting to attend evening events being 20 years older is perhaps slim. Perhaps genealogy is now, quite literally a past time, rather than a pastime. If that is the case then perhaps membership numbers start to decline. Organisations in countries where there is huge distances, the USA and Australia were probably the most likely to embrace online events earlier than the UK organisations.

I belong to a number of genealogical societies, of which none in the UK provided any online facilities in the format of meetings and webinars. The Guild of One-Name Studies began delivering webinars in 2018, with COVID there has been an increase of organisations taking advantage of platforms like Zoom and I am personally delighted. It has meant that I can participate in online discussions or attend presentations organised by the Society of Genealogists (SOG), amongst others. Indeed, my two surname talks that I was due to deliver in May at the SOG were understandably cancelled. The SOG then embraced the online world and I delivered the same presentations in early June, with another scheduled for later this year.

Created September 2020 using

Is the glass half full or half empty?

My glass is always half full, so whilst the world of COVID has been truly devastating in terms of the global casualties of the pandemic, deaths and the economies, it has provided an opportunity to those family history societies to rejuvenate themselves and for those out of area and housebound members, amongst others to interact with the society, even if on a small scale.

It has also provided opportunity for researchers to rejuvenate their family history. Revisit old post it notes, data extractions from online providers and catch up on the filing and organisation of their work. I’ll be back talking what I did, genealogically speaking in a future post.

Posted in Genealogy | 5 Comments