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Societies and organizations that emphasize genealogy and family history may be able to provide information of value to your genealogical research. Some societies are set up on a county-wide basis; others cover a portion of a county. This section discusses only English societies, but do not overlook societies in the country your ancestors moved to.
Many societies publish helpful journals, transcripts, and compiled genealogies. They may have ongoing projects to transcribe records, create indexes, and so on. Most societies publish queries in their journals and maintain lists of members’ research interests. See England Periodicals for more information about the journals and newsletters published by English societies.
You may want to join one of these societies and support its efforts. You can normally find membership fees and the address for a society’s secretary printed in its journal, and the Family History Library also has many journals in its collection. In addition, you may find information about a society on the Internet. Many societies have Websites that include membership information. You can locate this information through the GENUKI Web site or on this wiki by going to:
From these sites, click on the [County of your choice], then Click Societies.
- For a more comprehensive list go to the Wiki page British Family History Societies and Institutions.
The Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS)
- Main article: Federation of Family History Societies
There are currently over 100 family history societies in England. The Federation of Family History Societies serves as the coordinating body for societies in England and elsewhere. The Federation supports and encourages genealogy and family history research among its member societies. It formerly published Family History News and Digest (see England Periodicals), a journal that includes the names and addresses of its member societies.
The News & Digest has been replaced by an elecronic Magazine (ezine) and the latest version can be found on the FFHS website.The contact details for The FFHS are:
- General Enquiries
- All general correspondence should be sent to:
The Federation of Family History Societies
PO Box 8857
Phone: +44 (0)1455 203133
- Ezine Editor
- Correspondence about the Ezine should be sent to: ezine@FFHS.org.uk
- Registered Office
- Artillery House,
15 Byrom Street,
Please note that this address should not be used for general enquiries
You may also access the Federation’s Internet website and search on a county or national level to determine what societies may exist for the area of interest.
The Society of Genealogists has extensive records from all over England. They also have the largest collection of transcribed parish registers in England. The address is:
- Society of Genealogists
14 Charterhouse Buildings
London EC1M 7BA
For an introduction to the library see:
- Using the Library of the Society of Genealogists. London, England: Society of Genealogists, 1991. (Family History Library book 942.1/L1 J5u 1991.)
The Family History Library has several other guides to this library, as well as their publications. The publications are listed in the Author/Title Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:
Local History Societies
There are many local history socieites in England. A local history society often collects and encourages writing of histories of the people and places in their area of interest.
The British Association for Local History (BALH), was created in 1982 as the successor to earlier organisations which had supported the study of local history over previous decades. Its purpose is to encourage and assist the study of local history throughout Great Britain as an academic discipline and as a rewarding leisure activity for both individuals and groups. To achieve this the Association
- serves as a national body representing local and regional historians.
- hosts Local History Day, an annual event open to all, with discussions, presentation of awars, AGM, and a specially commisioned lecture based on current research.
- publishes the prestigious quarterly journal The Local Historian which includes regular features on themes, sources, websites, and a copious reviews sections. The first number appeared in 1952 (FHL book 942 B2ah; films 0973337–8.) This periodical was formerly calledAmateur Historian.
- produces a quarterly members' magazine Local History News reporting on up to date developments and examples of best practice from around the country.
- makes annual awards to individuals who have made a significant contribution to local history; for excellence in research and publication; and for an outstanding local history newsletter.
- organises guided visits to places of relevant interest, often not easily accessible otherwise.
- collaborates with other organisations to arrange conferences and similar events around the country.
- provides a website (http://www.balh.co.uk) for information and links.
- publishes specialist handbooks.
The Association is an unincorporated registered charity, governed by an elective Council with three advisory committees dealing with publications, education and events. It is financed by its members. Subscriptions are for a calendar year but may be started at any time; new members receive the material already issued during the year.
The Association's headquarters are located in Ashbourne, Derbyshire. The postal address is PO Box 6549, Somersal Herbert, Ashbourne DE6 5WH.
Addresses of local history societies may be obtained from the Federation Family History Societies' (FFHS) website and are also published in the following books:
Henderson, S.P.A., and A.J.W. Henderson,ed. Directory of British Associations & Associations in Ireland. 13th ed. Beckenham, Kent: CBD Research Ltd., 1996. (Family History Library book 942 E4hd; computer number 0054630.)
Pinhorn, Malcolm. Historical, Archaeological and Kindred Societies in the United Kingdom: A List. Isle of Wight: Pinhorns, 1986. (Family History Library book 942 C4h 1986; computer number 0370075.) An update to this book was published in 1995.
Some organizations gather information about all individuals with a particular surname. If you are interested in such an organization, see:
Key Benefits of Membership in Local Family History Societies
The following advantages and benefits of joining a local family history society will help you extend your pedigree and grow your knowledge and research skills in each England county:
- one of the best ways to discover other (distant) relatives, with whom to collaborate on family lines.
- learn about events and local history which directly affected your ancestors.
- know how/what effective search strategies and other critical approaches to employ in your research.
- obtain numerous ideas for helping you overcome brickwalls in constructing your genealogy.
- learn about, use, help create critical products being compiled by each society, such as transcribing or indexing churchyard, marriage, baptism, census, military, occupation, and etc records of the area or county, perhaps even helping to build data content for your parish[es] of interest (i.e.index) if desired.
- purchase books, CDs, microfiche, or the services of knowledgeable and experienced local residents to perform "lookup" services for all those researching ancestry from remote areas around the world.
- share/publish your ancestral surnames of interests for others to view and respond with help and assistance in various ways.
- write articles on one or some of your ancestor case studies, and research strategies used, or about the records of an area or county in order to share and disseminate learned and sound research practices, based on your area of expertise and/or ancestral research experience[s]. Perhaps other societies will wish rights to share or otherwise publish in their journals as well.
- advertise - ancestral names at reasonable rates in their journals for whom you are searching; or lookup services or even professional services seeking potential clients (where applicable), etc.
- modest cost to join, which yields a very high return in terms of benefits.
- Local members can attend meetings, classes, lectures, access and use library holdings, participate in society leadership and administrative roles, and volunteer to assist with inquiries from members abroad
Locating Records at the Family History Library
Copies of the records compiled by these societies are described in the Author/Title Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under the society name. They are also listed in the Locality Search under:
ENGLAND, [COUNTY] - SOCIETIES
ENGLAND, [COUNTY] - GENEALOGY
Copies of some records gathered by societies are listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under the record type. For example, cemetery transcripts done by a local family history society are listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:
ENGLAND, [COUNTY] - CEMETERIES
Lists and guides that describe societies’ collections are listed under the following:
ENGLAND, [COUNTY] - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES
ENGLAND, [COUNTY], [CITY, TOWN, or PARISH] - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES