Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Free Online Resources from Institute of Historical Research

The Institute of Historical Research is part of the University of London.  While its focus is on education for historians, it has several free resources available on the Internet that look as though they could be useful for family historians also.

A few free online courses are offered.  "Sources for British History on the Internet" sounds like a good resource if you have British ancestry.  "Palaeography Learning Materials" sounds really interesting, even though its emphasis is on Medieval manuscripts.  The process of learning how to read those scripts probably would be good experience for learning to read other difficult handwriting, such as Colonial American or Old German.  And if you are lucky enough to trace your family back to the Medieval period, you'll be prepared for the materials you'll be reading!

More than 200 archived Podcasts are on the site.  Topics range over all geographical areas, ancient to modern history, and specific topics such as agriculture, maritime history, medicine, oral history, and Christian missions in global history (these are just a few among dozens).  This type of information is wonderful for learning about the context of your ancestors' lives and the times they lived in.

The Digital Resources page has many links, including "Bibliography of British and Irish History", "British History Online" (Middle Ages to about 1900), and "Connected Histories:  Sources for Building British History, 1500-1900", which allows searches across fifteen databases (among them Old Bailey Proceedings Online, Convict Transportation Registers Database, and London Lives 1600-1800). And there's a blog called History Spot, to help you keep up-to-date on all the Podcasts and seminars offered.

There is so much great material here!  I think I'm going to start with the palaeography course ....

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