At Treethorpe, we ensure that our professional knowledge is expanded and kept up to date by attending various courses, events etc. Even throughout the pandemic, organisations such as the Society of Genealogists have continued their teaching online.

Marta recently attended a course with the Society of Genealogists on ‘Researching Displaced People’ which was taught by Julie Goucher.

Julie has been researching her Family History since 1986 and is a member and support of various family history or historical group including The Society of Genealogists, West Surrey Family History Society, Northumberland and Durham Family History Society, Families in British India Society, Sussex Family History Group.

Displaced people are considered in two categories – internal and external. Internal displaced people have moved to a place of safety within their own country and external displaced people have moved country to seek safety.

When researching displaced people, it’s important to consider the context of the global events at the time. For example, could they have moved to escape the effects of a war, famine, persecution or other event which would have made it difficult for them to remain in their place of birth?

Another factor to take into consideration is how borders moved after major events. For example, after WW2 the Potsdam Agreement reduced Germany in size by approximately 25% compared to its 1937 borders.

Some of the tips that Julie provides include to obtain a map of the area relevant to who you are researching to consider any changes of the borders and to have an idea of the bordering countries. She also recommends building an understanding of the context of their lives — e.g. occupation, religion – to identify any factors which may have resulted in them being displaced. This should be combined with considering any global events around the time that you’re researching. As with any family history research, you must also take into consideration any misspelling of their names as well as the possibility they may have changed or adapted their name when they moved.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, at the end of 2018 70.8 million people were forced from their home by conflict and persecution.

This month, the 1951 Refugee Convention turns 70. The Refugee Convention defines who a refugee is and sets out the rights of individuals who are granted asylum and the responsibilities of nations that grant asylum. The rights created by this Convention generally still stand today.

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