Library collections Archives


 

It’s always worth checking what research has been done before on the family history you are researching.

The SoG collects printed and published family histories as well as unpublished material in typescript or manuscript form. Family histories and pedigrees can be found all over the library and here are some top tips and guideance to help you search in the Society of Genealogists Library.


Search SoGCAT (the Society of Genealogists’ Library Catalogue) www.sog.org.uk

Use the browse & subject search facility eg SMITH (SURNAME) Double click OR tick box and click view. You should now have a list of all the Society’s holdings for published printed or bound material related to the name along with the references you will need to find the items in the Library.

Please note we have not catalogued all surnames names in every book in the library, only those with at least three generations of narrative family history are listed. Information on families will of course be located in sources for the places where they lived or what they did. You will also need to search other materials in the library as outlined below.

The Catalogue lists the printed and bound works on the Family History Shelves in the Upper Library
The Society of Genealogists library has an extraordinary amount of family history research notes within its collections. Thousands of bound family histories and biographies have been deposited on the Family History Shelves in the Upper Library. These are arranged largely in alphabetical order and cross referenced  by surname on the catalogue.

Check bibliographies listing what’s been published
There are major bibliographies which list printed or published family histories – often in periodicals and topographical works as well as dedicated genealogical publications. These bibliographies can be found on the quick reference shelves at the Middle Library Enquiry Counter and are listed in the reading list below. The Society will have many of the works cited in these works.

Further reading. Some of thes titles have been published in facsimile form in CD ROM or may be found on Google Books)

The Genealogist’s Guide by G W Marshall
A Genealogical Guide by J B Whitmore
The Genealogist’s Guide by G B Barrow
A Catalogue of British Family Histories by T R Thomson
Scottish Family History by M Stuart
Scottish Family A Histories held in Scottish Public Libraries by J P S Ferguson
Bibliography of Irish Family History and Genealogy B de Breffny
Bibliography of Irish Family History by E MacLysaght

Look at the Society’s Manuscript Research Notes in the Lower Library
The Document Collection contains thousands of unique miscellaneous manuscript research notes arranged by surname. These are available in the archive section of the Lower Library where you will find a list of all the surnames represented. This list of the surname represented in the Document collections is also on the Society’s website  (not the catalogue). The Special Collections also contain notes on families including thousands of roll pedigrees. All the Special Collections are listed and indexed in the card index in the Lower Library. The surnames in the roll pedigrees (but not all the other collections) are also listed in the SoG’s website. The collections themselves are also in the archive area but some have been filmed.

Birth Briefs and Members Interests
SoG members can submit birth briefs showing their ancestry back to their 32 great, great grandparents. The bound birth briefs and an index are in the Upper Library. Members can submit slips showing the names they are researching. The slips are in the Upper Library. The surnames represented are listed on the Society’s website

One Name Studies
Some genealogists try to trace everyone with a particular surname. The Family History shelves contain many listings of entries from the Civil Registration Indexes to birth, death and marriage records. and these can be found through the SoG Library Catalogue The Register of the Guild of One Name Studies (GOONS) can be found at the Middle Library Enquiry Counter and online on the Guild’s website.

Peerage and Royalty and Biography
Titled families are listed in Burke’s Family Index and in Frank Leeson’s Directory of British Peerages. Pedigrees of European royalty and nobility are listed in F R Price’s Guide to European Genealogies Exclusive of the British Isles. These titles can be found on the Peerage and Royalty shelves in the Upper Library along with standard reference works on the Peerage, Landed Gentry and other biographical works.

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Society of Genealogists Special Collections – Coleman’s Catalogues and Index

The Society of Genealogists Special Collections contain a variety of interesting resources for family historians. Amongst the treasures in the Society’s Library are the Coleman’s catalogues and index

 
 
James Coleman was an heraldic and genealogical bookseller and publisher in London in the second half of the 19th century.  He aimed to obtain a constant supply of documents and books from various sources which were listed for sale in his catalogue which was produced on a regular basis between 1859 and 1911. He also published Coleman’s general index to printed pedigrees (1866).
 
As a second hand dealer he sold marriage settlements, wills, rent rolls, peerage claims, private and local Acts of Parliament, appeal cases, pedigrees, deeds, autograph letters, maps etc. as well as new and second hand books on heraldry, topography and biography.  His catalogues give brief details of the items for sale.
 
The Society has bound copies of his catalogues which were given to us in 1915 as part of the Snell Collection. The catalogues come under the heading of “printed ephemera” and it is rare for such a long and complete run to survive.  A card index of nearly 50,000 names appearing in the catalogue descriptive entries was compiled in 1936. Taking that as a starting point the Society, through its volunteers, is now undertaking to expand the index to include, where stated, the year, the county and sometimes the parish or place where the person lived. This could prove most useful for placing a family in a particular area and time.  It has, however, to be borne in mind that the original documents  listed in the catalogues are now unfortunately either no longer in existence or are in private hands.

The illustration here is of the front cover of a catalogue for 1865.

Colemans cat4 653x1024 Society of Genealogists Special Collections   Colemans Catalogues and Index

Coleman's Catalogues at the Society of Genealogists

Coincidentally, the item offered at the bottom of the page – the original burial register of Mr Roger’s Meeting House, Collier’s Rents, White Street, Southwark – was given to the Society in 1993 by one of our members. Having been photocopied and transcribed, the original was donated to the Southwark Local Studies Library. Also illustrated is a sample page from one of the catalogues.

David Horwill & Sue Gibbons, 2009

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New Family History Databases on the SoG Members’ Website

Various new family history database have been added to the SoG members Website. These  new datasets continue to reflect the huge variety of family history resources available in the Society’s Library.

The Solicitors and Attorneys Index for Genealogists

This lists Solicitors and Attorneys who were practicing between roughly 1780 and 1861. It was compiled on record cards and donated to the Society of Genealogists by Brian Brooks in 2002 and converted for the Society by Les Murial. It includes information on lawyers around the United Kingdom.  However the database does NOT include lawyers in London, Middlesex, Sussex and Wales as Mr Brooks is still working on these. There is also a little data on lawyers in Scotland and India, The index was compiled from various sources including Law Lists from 1780-1861, the 1851 census, and biographical works such as Sir Edgar Stephens’ Clerks of the Counties 1360-1960. This is a really useful index for anyone with solicitors in their family history.

 

Solicitors screen shot2 300x240 New Family History Databases on the SoG Members’ Website The Solicitors and Attorneys index is divided into two databases on the website. The first shows career details and the entry number will indicate the geographical location. For example, entries 0001-0133 relate to lawyers in Bedfordshire and these numbers are explained on the site. The second includes genealogical information (shown here), where found, for each lawyer. Again entry numbers indicate the county location of the lawyer using the same codes as for the first index.

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Special Family History Collections at the Society of Genealogists

kipling27 298x300 Special Family History Collections at the Society of GenealogistsSome of the most important items in the library of the Society of Genealogists are to be found in the mansuscripts  in the Special Collections. Housed in thousands of boxes, these collections often represent the life work of a genealogist who has researched many different families. Sometimes the work is quite scholarly or looks at families that share a common theme such as the Campling Collection, the original notes made  by Campling before publishing the pedigress as East Anglian Pedigrees. Other collections have compiled family trees for families in a specific area  such as the Rogers Collection of notes on Cornish families. The SoG has over 350 of these special collections.

New collections come into the library every week.  Often they are  the life work of a family historian bequeathed to the Society because no other family member might want the research. Each collection is sorted and listed by volunteers. Often the papers aren’t as organised as they might be when they arrive at the library. It  can be quite a daunting task to go through many boxes of notes and to make order out of chaos. It can be quite sad if family photos don’t have names or places attached to them such as these charming family photographs.

Sometimes it’s not only the family photos that can be difficult to  identify.   All sorts of ephemeral items often come in with the research notes.  Volunteers have great fun sorting the collections. It was a delight to find this fine fellow (below)  in the recent acquisition of the Helen collection. Helen Collection cat 12 238x300 Special Family History Collections at the Society of Genealogists

Surnames represented in the Society’s document collections of miscellaneous manuscript research notes, the roll pedigree collections and the birth briefs submitted by members are listed on the library section of our website. However the names in the special collections are, at present, only listed in card indexes in the lower library.

Contributing to the Society’s centenary appeal can help us continue to conserve and care for our collections. See the donations page of our website.

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