Dr. Sophie Kay is a professional researcher working in genealogy and genetics. Her background is in mathematics and interdisciplinary cancer research and she holds a doctorate in Systems Biology from the University of Oxford, where she also taught mathematics, statistics and computational bioscience from 2008 - 2014.
Dr. Kay is an experienced educator, with particular interest in teaching research skills and collaborative, open working practices. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and was founding director of the award-winning Open Science Training Initiative from 2012 - 2019.
Sophie currently serves as a volunteer on the User Advisory Group of the UK National Archives, with particular interest in diversity and inclusion within the archive sector. She is also part of the team behind #AncestryHour on Twitter, which takes place at 7pm (GMT winter, BST summer) every Tuesday.
All opinions and content presented on Sophie's blog "The Parchment Rustler" are personal, and should not be assumed to represent these organisations in any way, unless otherwise stated.
NOTE: The methods in this article are designed for use with 19th and 20th century genealogical research in the UK, particularly England and Wales. Record Clustering Analysis is readily adaptable to other eras and jurisdictions though, so watch out for a follow-up article in 2021!
Pull up a chair, put the kettle on and let’s sit down for a think.… Read the rest
Few now survive who lived through World War II. Those remaining today can provide valuable accounts of their experiences, but such memories largely involve wartime childhood. As family historians, how can we connect with the range of experiences of adult civilians of the time?
How do you feel when your genealogy research hits a brick wall: frustrated, demoralised, perhaps downright bewildered? Sometimes what you need is a fresh perspective on your family history to kickstart your research process.
We now find ourselves well into autumn here in the UK; the weather is starting to turn and colder, darker nights beckon – the perfect time to be curled up in front of the fire, reading a good book. With this in mind, today’s post makes a slight departure from my usual “research methods” postings, but is highly relevant to the worlds of genealogy and history.… Read the rest
The best stories always start with a map. Whether I was in Narnia or the Hundred Acre Wood, Middle-Earth or Treasure Island, the books of my childhood were ever the richer for having a map at the front, ready to help me navigate those magical worlds.
For me, the maps fascination has never subsided, and I know I’m not alone in this.… Read the rest
Today, we’re going to talk about the elephant in every genealogist’s research room. It’s one we’ve all spent some time with, whether we realise it or not. And what’s more, this particular elephant tends to divert our research when it shouldn’t. At its worst, it can stampede us right off course.… Read the rest
Picture this scene: you absolutely love chocolate cake and have decided to bake your own. You’ve even bought a cake tin especially for the purpose. You’re thrilled. You can’t wait to get started. Whenever you look at the tin, you think, “that’s the chocolate cake tin”. It’s become so fixed in your mind as thechocolate cake tin that it doesn’t once occur to you to use it to make other flavours of cake: lemon, coffee, blueberry, vanilla…and so there’s a whole load of things you end up missing out on.… Read the rest
I presume you took my advice from Part 1 and now have tea and biscuits at the ready? Excellent – they’re the foundation of many a good research session. If you followed through Part 1, you’ve now got your research question written down and possibly tacked to the wall or computer screen on a sticky note.… Read the rest