County Durham residents looking to delve into the past can take part in a number of online sessions as part of Local History Month.

Durham County Council’s Durham County Record Office is running the events to raise awareness of local history and to promote the archive service and its varied collections.

As part of its Branching Out programme, the record office is hosting a Local History Month special for family historians with experience of searching the archives.

The session will show people how to locate and use local history sources, such as maps and trade directories, which are not often used for family history but can shed light on past generations and the world they inhabited.

The online event takes place on Thursday 13 May, with a choice of morning (10am to 11am) or evening (6pm to 7pm) sessions, with tickets costing £5.

Meanwhile, as part of the record office’s popular Third Thursday Talk series, there will also be a session on the value of diaries for local history.

Led by archivist Victoria Oxberry, ‘What can I tell you’ will look at the idea of diary-writing and why people do it. Participants will be able to look at examples from the record office’s collections and hear why it is important that they are collected and preserved for future generations to enjoy.

The free online talk takes place on Thursday, 20 May, from 10.30am to 11.30am.

Durham County Raising Awareness Of Local History With Online Events
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Dawn Layland, an education archivist, said: “These sessions offer an excellent opportunity for people to find out more about how to research the past and their local history, whether that is exploring their own family tree or County Durham’s heritage.

“As well as showing enthusiasts which sources can assist their search, they will be able to look through some of the fascinating items from our own collections, which will hopefully further inspire their own searches.”

The record office is also running two free online sessions during the May half-term, aimed at children across the county.

‘Snippets from the Archives: Investigating County Durham in the past’ will look at how Durham has changed over time.

Children will be able to see how photos and maps can explain and illustrate the massive changes that our county’s towns and villages have seen during the past 200 years. They will also find out more about some of the children who worked in the county’s mines.

Imagining the life of a young boy who was given a candle to help him work underground in a coal mine more than 175 years ago, children taking part in the session will also be able to make light jars using tissue paper, following the theme of light.

The free half-hour session is aimed at those aged between seven and 11, but younger children could also join in. The sessions are taking place on Tuesday 1 June from 2pm to 2.30pm and Thursday 3 June, from 10am to 10.30am.

Online booking is essential for each of the events. To book a place, visit the record office online shop at

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