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Understanding Old Handwriting

Sooner or later, every family historian has to tackle the challenge of deciphering old handwriting. This course will look at the structure of documents from the 17-19th centuries, which are of most use to family historians, and teach attendees how to read the various handwriting styles used. Examples of handwriting and documents are provided.

Joan Dils, course tutor, is a well-known local historian in Berkshire and President of the Berkshire Local History Association. She taught history and local history for the schools of continuing education at both Reading and Oxford Universities.

£30 for three month access pass (Members: £24 with coupon)

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Five generations at the Fairmile Hospital

The Fair Mile Hospital (before 1948 known by a succession of different names) was until relatively recently Berkshire’s county lunatic asylum. If the term ‘lunatic asylum’ sends shivers of dread down your spine, be ready to adjust your perceptions. Consider the alternatives and try to understand that the Victorian asylum system was a well-founded effort to tackle mental illness head-on through compassion, diligent care and research. No mental institution was ever entirely sweetness and harmony.  However, these places made possible valuable and largely unrecognised advances in mental health care.

Ian Wheeler’s illustrated talk examines Fair Mile’s foundation, growth and methods through the eyes of ten of its former employees. All were members of his family, and their service spanned over a century

£5 for three month access pass (Members: £4 with coupon)

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