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The Benefits of Joining a Family History Society

When I started my own Family Tree some 17 years ago it wasn't long before I located the closest Family History Society & attended a meeting.

This society covered my local County & although at that time I had not tracked down any Ancestors who had lived in this area, I did find some later on. In spite of that I felt for the small annual fee required to join it was worth it just to attend the monthly genealogy themed meetings, catch up with news & use their facilities.

Amazed as I was, they offered me a free Genealogy class which if memory serves lasted 4-6 weeks & took place on Saturday mornings.

I quickly realised that although they covered my local County their library & online resources covered a lot of Scotland & beyond.

Since then, I have gone on to join further Societies including one where most of my Paternal Ancestors lived.

Best of all I have met some pretty amazing people along the way. If you’re into Genealogy, you will know what I mean when I say that some Friends & Family became bored of listening to me talking about my Ancestry? These new Genealogy friends are always keen to have a chat over a cuppa & swap Genealogy Stories.

What you get for your Money

Membership fees can range between £10 & £25 per year on average…. the cost of a few coffees!

Almost all offer Journals or Newsletters 3-4 times a year which contain articles about the history of the area, local families, Genealogy news etc. Members of the societies also submit their own articles for publication & there are often Q & A sections, updates on Society news, additions to their reference libraries & such.

Some also offer E-News updates monthly so that members can stay up to date with events in the area, forthcoming speakers & anything else they think might interest you.

Societies arrange Speaker Presentations, some of these are in person (During non-Covid times) & some arrange these as online events. Presentations are normally carried out by Historians, Professional Genealogists or Representatives of Archives/Genealogy Service Websites.

A lot of Societies publish their own range of publications these are often transcribed records taken from Archive holdings or inscriptions in Graveyards. Sometimes as a member you can even receive a discount on these publications. If you are interested in getting involved in projects like this yourself then it is worth speaking to their research team.

Often Societies will organise their own mini–Family History Fairs or take part in much larger ones as a way of not only promoting the Society but of selling their publications, so keep an eye out for these at any event you attend & have a chat with them about what you can expect as a member.

A lot of Societies have their own Offices & Reference Libraries, which as a member you have access to use. Some have libraries with 1000s of books on a variety of subjects including Military, Local History, Genealogy & much more. They often have map collections for at the very least their own County & some exchange journals with Family History Societies throughout the UK so you can often check out a much wider area. One of the family history societies I have joined also has an amazing ‘Members Only’ section on their website where you can search databases & record sets with out even leaving your home!

Most Organisations have their own ‘Experts’ who regularly research topics such as Military, DNA Testing or even Irish Research, so if you find yourself stuck there is always someone who can point you in the right direction.

If you are lucky then your Family History Society will also have a PC Suite where you can consult a variety of records from each computer, this may relate to War Dead, Monumental Inscriptions or Census Records. They may also have subscriptions to websites such as Ancestry or Find my Past. So, if you don’t have a current subscription check what can be accessed from their offices & save yourself some money.

As I mentioned earlier you also get the chance to meet like minded people, pick their brains, make contacts if a particular topic interest you & have a chat over a cuppa & maybe a biscuit.

Not sure where to look for a Society in a particular area?

Check out the Scottish Association Society of Family History Societies (SAFHS) for Scottish Societies

Genuki lists some in the UK & Ireland


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