Workshops & Courses

At present I am not running any regular family history courses or workshops – although plan to from Jan 2019.

I am, still available however, for one-off bookings by Family history groups, local history groups, U3A groups etc. The range of talks/workshops on offer are as follows:

Most of the topics below can be offered as a 1 hour illustrated presentation; 2 hours (presentation + activity) or a half-day/3 hour workshop including extended presentation + activity).  In addition individual advice slots (15 mins per person) can be added if required.

General interest talks:

An Accident Waiting to Happen? The Whittall Street Explosion of 1859.

In-Memoriam Card for those killed in an explosion at Messrs. Pur

On 27th September 1859 an explosion at a percussion cap factory in Whittall Street in the heart of the gun quarter resulted in the deaths of 19 people – all but one of them girls and young women. It wasn’t the first such accident, although it was the deadliest and it lead to an Act of Parliament designed to improve safety in the industry. Newspaper reports, inquest documents, burial registers and archive documents help to tell the story of what happened on that fateful morning. Discover more about the victims and some of the heroes and villains of the tragedy too.

Chuggers of WWI Birmingham – Stories of Birmingham’s Home Front told through charity flags (NEW)


A chance purchase of a WWI charity flag led me to start a small collection of these ephemeral items – rusty pins and all!  Each one tells a story of a particular aspect of the Home Front in Birmingham including fundraising for troops abroad, Prisoners of War, the new Children’s Hospital and several other local charities including the Street Children’s Union and the Cripples Society. Hear too about the public support for this new method of fundraising, the moral issues (young women standing on the street asking for money!) and the irritation of being constantly bombarded for money – these were the chuggers of their day!

Birmingham (or Solihull) Suffragettes & SuffragistsWomen's Suffrage Cookery Book - Mrs Aubrey DOWSON

2018 is the 100th anniversary of (some!) women getting the vote after a long, and sometimes bitter, campaign which lasted decades. Discover what was happening here in Birmingham (or Solihull!) and how it linked to the national campaign. Who were the leading local suffragists and suffragettes? What were there differences? Learn about the force-feeding of imprisoned campaigners at Winson Green, the women’s national march and several acts of arson on public buildings.  


Middlemore Child Migration Homes

John Throgmorton Middlemore

Britain is the only country in the world with a sustained history of child migration

Birmingham’s Child Emigration Homes, established by John Throgmorton Middlemore, were just one of the many institutions which took in ‘waifs and strays’ and dispersed them to far flung corners of the Empire. Children were sent away with the expectation that they would never return, to start new lives in a foreign land without their families – in Canada most were placed with individual families and on farms – those sent to Australia were often placed in large institutions.

This talk looks at the background of child migration in general and the workings of the Middlemore Homes in particular and raises questions about the outcomes for the children involved. 

Family History Talks for Beginners

Introduction to Family History Research

Civil Registration – Births, Marriages & Deaths 1837 onward

Coroners’ Inquest Records

Introduction to House History

Parish Registers – Baptisms, Marriages and Burials

Making Sense of the Census

Tracing occupations in the City of a Thousand Trades

Wills and Probate Records for family historians


Sessions suitable for those with some experience (assumes knowledge of civil registration, parish registers & census records):

Ancestry: Getting the most out of (IT Suite needed for this + participants need personal membership of Ancestry)

Archival Research – an introduction (1 hour only)

Coroners’ Inquest Records

Death and Burial Records

Directories & Electoral Registers

Introduction to House History

Marriage (& Divorce!)

Newspapers in family history research

Nonconformist Records of Birmingham

Parish Chest: Lifting the Lid on the Parish Chest – beyond the Registers

WWI: Finding your ancestor in WWI records: Army, Navy & Air Corps


Please contact Liz Palmer via email: for availability and current fees.


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