Why join a family history society?


20 November 2018
doncaster-FHS-28558.jpg Members of Doncaster & District Family History Society
Discover the many benefits of joining a family history society when tracing your ancestors - whether you're a genealogy newbie or have decades of experience.

Discover the many benefits of joining a family history society when tracing your ancestors - whether you're a genealogy newbie or have decades of experience.

Here in the UK we’re fortunate to have one of the best family history society scenes in the world. Whether you’re starting out on your family tree journey or have been tracing your ancestors for decades, joining a society can provide you with knowledge, friendship, the opportunity to share skills and to benefit from projects carried out by family historians.

Many of the online record collections that we enjoy from the comfort of our own home are provided thanks to the hard work behind the scenes of family historians round the country who donated their time, skills and resources to benefit everyone. 

So, what are the benefits of joining a family history society?

  • Access specialised records and information relating to the area where you live and/or your ancestors lived
  • Enjoy regular talks by experts and trips to local places of interest
  • Receive the society’s journal with articles on people and places in the local area, plus details of other people researching the same name

Read on for details of some of the UK’s many family history societies, each of which welcomes new members:

Channel Islands Family History Society

Founded in 1978 to encourage research into the genealogies and history of Jersey families. The society has a reference collection housed at Jersey Archive, with society volunteers on duty Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.


Dorset Family History Society

Visitors are welcome at Treetops Research Centre in Poole where experienced, friendly volunteers give assistance to all researchers, not just those searching for Dorset ancestors. The group holds monthly meetings and holds Dorset and other county records.


Somerset & Dorset Family History Society

A society dedicated to the study of genealogy with special reference to Somerset and Dorset. The society has a number of groups that hold meetings on a monthly basis and there is also a research centre which houses the society library and copious research materials.


Bristol & Avon Family History Society

The society, founded in 1975, has around 1,200 members and services include its research room at Bristol Archives, a quarterly journal and monthly meetings at three locations.


Lancashire Family History & Heraldry Society

This large society has twelve branches in Lancashire, plus one in London. It also has two research centres, each with a library, computers and knowledgeable volunteers. Current projects include the Lancashire Archives Crew Lists and the Preston Cemetery transcriptions.


Liverpool & SW Lancs Family History Society

An active and forward-looking society that brings together genealogists and historians interested in the area of the Old Hundred of West Derby.


North Meols (Southport) Family History Society

The society runs free help desks (Tues 2-4pm and Fri 10-12 noon) in The Atkinson library, Southport and on the first Monday of the month at Tarleton library. Its range of publications extends to census and church extracts and local interest works.


North West Kent Family History Society

Experience a friendly welcome from the society’s team of volunteers. Members receive a quarterly journal, socialise and enjoy talks and meetings at branches in Bromley, Dartford and Sevenoaks.

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Nottinghamshire Family History Society

Meets every month at Nottinghamshire Archives with exclusive use of the Archives search room from 5pm on meeting night. The society journal is published four times a year and members can also use the society research room at the National Justice Museum.


Oxfordshire Family History Society

The society offers an award-winning journal, help and search services, DNA and surname projects, parish register, monumental inscription and census transcripts and images. Meetings are held each month, many with guest speakers.


Suffolk Family History Society

An active friendly society that holds regular meetings throughout Suffolk and in West London. The society offers local expertise and regularly issues baptism, marriage and burial CDs, plus a quarterly journal. 


Wiltshire Family History Society

Members of the society are linked through a quarterly journal, local branches and the society website. Teams of members transcribe from the archives and contribute a wealth of information to be shared worldwide in publications, CDs, downloads and via FindMyPast.


Malvern Family History Society

The society offers the chance to meet and engage with others, a forum for members providing knowledgeable support, free access to indexed Worcestershire records and monthly meetings with talks on genealogy.


Airedale & Wharfedale Family History Society

The group holds more than 400 publications and a database of war memorials and rolls of honour comprising over 40,000 entries, plus a database of the 1803 Muster Roll for Craven. Meetings are held in Burley in Wharfedale, Keighley and Threshfield.


Doncaster & District Family History Society

The society has its own research room with a 1 million names index, and is always staffed by volunteers. Also on offer is a look-up service for distant members and a quarterly journal.


Huddersfield & District Family History Society

The society celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in 2017 and continues to thrive, with around 900 members. Around 700 publications for more churches in the area have been transcribed and are available via the website. 


Family History Handbook 2019

For a worldwide directory of family history societies, archives, researchers and more, as well as DNA tips and advice, get the Family History Handbook 2019, FREE with the Christmas issue of Family Tree.

Meet representatives from family tree societies around the UK at the Family Tree Live genealogy show, 26-27 April at Alexandra Palace, London.


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