Society of Genealogists Archives

Walk: In the Shadow of St Pauls – Cemeteries & Burial Grounds 7 October 2011

This new addition to the Society’s popular ‘Cemeteries & Burial Grounds’ walks, will take place on Friday, 7 October 2011 starting at 2pm. The walk will last approximately two hours and our group  will meet our walk leader, Alec Tritton, at Postman’s Park, behind St. Botolph Aldersgate. Book early as places are limited.

The walk MUST be pre-booked, price £10.00 (£8.00 SoG members). To book a space, visit our secure website or telephone the events department: 020 7553 3290. Do you have a question? email the events department

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British Army and Merchant Navy Ancestors

The Society of Genealogists has recently reprinted two of the most popular titles in its My Ancestors series. My Ancestor was a Merchant Seaman by Christopher and Michael Watts (£9.99), is recognised as an authoritative work on tracing ancestors who served as merchant seamen. Packed with information and advice on how to access merchant seaman records, this is a comprehensive guide for family historians and genealogists alike. My Ancestor was in the British Army (£10.99), by the same authors, provides similar guidance in tracing the records of British soldiers who served from around 1660 up to the Second World War. Both books are an invaluable addition to any family historian’s library and both are available now from the society’s bookshop, and online at As ever, members of the Society of Genealogists receive a 10% discount on our publications.

Final Countdown to Society of Genealogists Centenary Conference 7th May

 Forget the Royal Wedding. Forget the May Bank Holiday. The spring event of 2011 is the Society of Genealogists’ Centenary  Conference at the Royal Overseas League, Park Place,  St James’ Street. London SW1A 1LR on Saturday May 7th

if you are coming to hear our excellent speakers or meet up wth SoG friends and members to celebrate the Society’s 100th  Birthday we are looking forward to seeing you. There are still one or two spaces available and can be booked online through the Society of Genealogists Online Shop

The Conference speakers’ schedule is below


Registration/Tea & Coffee


Welcome – Princess Alexandra Hall

Colin Allen FSG (Chairman of SoG) & Debra Chatfield (Marketing Manager, Find My Past – SoG Centenary Sponsors)

10.30-11.30 Session 1A – Princess Alexandra Hall

Speaker: Dr Nick Barratt

Chairman: Debra Chatfield:

From Memory to Digital Record: Personal Heritage, Family History and Archives in the 21st Century

An examination of the rise of personal heritage and personal archiving, alongside changes to the way history is disseminated, researched and consumed – mainly driven by broadcast media and the Internet. The challenges to traditional archives are many and varied, and I examine the role of genealogy in expanding the use of non-traditional archives, and the growing influence of oral history and eye-witness accounts that are usually neglected by academic historians

Session 1B – Hall of India

Speaker: Schelly Talalay Dardashti

Chairman: Else Churchill

It’s In Our Genes: A DNA Project Case Study 

This session (by project co-founder/co-administrator) presents the structure of creating and organizing any DNA project, using an established project as a case study. It covers setting project goals and joining criteria; how to publicize the project; persuading participants to join; results and surprises, advertising results and communicating with participants.

The program focuses on IberianAshkenaz DNA. Project at as a case study, but is equally applicable to a DNA project covering any ethnicity. This project attempts to prove the family stories of some Eastern European Ashkenazi Jews that their families were of Sephardic origin (with roots in Spain or Portugal).

Speaker Sponsored by the Halsted Trust


11.45-12.45 Session 2A – Princess Alexandra Hall

Speaker: Dr Colin R Chapman

Chairman: Professor Peter Spufford, FSG

The Progress of Our Profile – 100 years of the SoG

An illustrated account of the Society’s development from 1911 to 2011 and its impact on international genealogical research. Born in borrowed premises, the Society embraced interests across the United Kingdom, British Empire and then worldwide, collecting unique and transcribed materials into its ever-expanding prestigious library. Public access to Government historical papers and archives throughout the past 100 years has been championed by the Society voicing forceful arguments to national committees and consultation groups. With a century of expertise from paper-based notes to electronic storage and delivery of data and documentation, the SoG continues to advance with the times

Session 2B – Hall of India

Speaker: Dr Bruce Durie FLS, FSAScot, FHEA

Chaiman: John Hanson

The Future of Genealogy Education

Genealogy is at a cusp – increasing professionalism requires more formal educational provision, and the public is coming to expect educational and professional credentials.

At the same time, Genealogical Studies is becoming a recognised academic discipline.

How will this be delivered, and what are the implications for existing and intending professional genealogists

Speaker Sponsored by the Halsted Trustclip_image001[1] 

12.45-14.00 Lunch
14.00-15.00 Session 3A – Princess Alexandra Hall

Speaker: Jeremy Goldsmith

Chairman : Richard Sturt


Parish Registers: Problems and Progress

Parish registers have often been regarded as the primary source of vital statistics prior to civil registration (1538-1837), though this was not the purpose of their creation. Their effective use must also take into account the problems of migration, non-registration and non-conformity. Over the past century, public access to registers has been aided by the establishment of County Record Offices, while the transcription and publication of registers has enabled the wide distribution of much genealogical data. More recently, the searching of registers across parish boundaries has been facilitated by the development of electronic databases and digitization of the original records.


Session 3BHall of India 

Speaker: Sharon Hintze

Chairman: Mike Wood

The Past, Present And Future of Records Preservation and Public Access


This talk will review the changes to preservation of and access to genealogical records d over the last 100 years and will then describe the current state-of-the-art tools and future developments. Included will be an assessment as to how genealogists have contributed to and adapted to these changes

15.15-16.15 Session 4A – Princess Alexandra Hall

Speaker: Dr Gill Draper, FRHist. Soc, FSA.

Chairman: June Perrin

Beyond The Grave: Challenges of Family Reconstruction Before the 18th Century


This illustrated lecture explores the challenges of taking a family history back in time beyond the 18th century, perhaps even to the Middle Ages. Using the example of the Godfreys of Lydd, Kent, it considers material from church brasses, plaques, monuments, wills and antiquarian pedigrees. The lecture argues that two technological innovations make family reconstruction in the distant past seem ever more possible: the huge amount of material now available online and the use of relational databases like Access to bring together people with the same surname. It reviews both the pitfalls and the potential of this approach.

Session 4B – Hall of India

Speaker: Alec Tritton

Chairman:Michael Isherwood

Family History Communication in the 21st Century – Blogging, Social Networking and Ezines

The digital world is changing; no longer is it sufficient to just put up a static website as there are more people using YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other Social Networking sites than search the Internet daily. The search engines today prefer blogs with regular fresh new content. This creates a challenge to the average family historian wishing to make their genealogies available to the widest audience on the World Wide Web. This lecture will help to explain how these new uses of the Internet can be used for family history

16.15-16.30 Tea & CoffeeHall of India
16.30-17.30 Session 5A – Princess Alexandra Hall

Speaker: Beverley Charles Rowe 

Beyond Soundex


Name matching systems, such as Soundex, have been seen as a tool for social and local historians but lacking the accuracy needed for family research. But as available datasets get larger and larger, search automation seems more attractive.

This paper compares the many different methods of name matching in use within the databases we use regularly and suggests how a family historian might proceed

Session 5B – Hall of India

Speaker: Else Churchill

Chairman: June Perrin

I’ve Got a Little List – Digital & Other Sources for the “Long 18th Century” 1688-1837

An overview of the sources that can supplement the deficiencies of parish registers using what are known in the SoG Library as “local lists” generated for ad-hoc need or census substitutes and lists generated by the parish such as the duties on baptism and marriages 1695-1706 or the provision for parish poor; lists generated for defense such as musters and militia; lists generated by the state for taxation and lists of voters and ratepayers. Some of these underused treasures of the SoG will be digitized for the forthcoming business index and other projects.

17.45-18.30 Session 6 –Speaker: Juliet NicolsonChairman: Alec Tritton, Chairman Hasted Trust

Princess Alexandra Hall

The Perfect Summer. Dancing into the Shadow in 1911 The summer of 1911– the year the SoG was founded – is seen through the eyes of a series of exceptional individuals including a debutante, a choir boy, a politician, a trade unionist, a butler and the Queen. A new king was crowned and audiences swarmed to Covent Garden to see the Ballet Russes and Nijinsky’s gravity-defying leaps. The aristocracy was at play, bounding from house party to the next; the socialite Lady Michelham travelled with her nineteen yards of pearls while Rupert Brooke a 23-year-old poet spent the summer swimming in the river at Grantchester. But perfection was over-reaching itself. The rumble of thunder from the summer’s storms presaged not only the bloody war years ahead: the country was brought to near standstill by industrial strikes, and unrest, exposing the chasm between privileged and poor as if the heat was torturing those imprisoned in society’s straitjacket and stifled by the city smog. Children, seeking relief from the scorching sun, drowned in village ponds. What the protagonists could not have known is that they were playing out the backdrop to WWI; in a few years time the world, let alone Britain, would never be the same again. Juliet Nicolson illuminates a turning point in history.

Speaker Presented by the Halsted Trust


  Comfort Break or Bars
19.30 Conference BanquetHall of India
  Musical Entertainment by Catherine Howe and Vo Fletcher 

Banquet Talk

David Fletcher

1942 ….. “in afternoon went to Soc of Genealogists, cost £3.3.0, a fine place.”


A fascinating glimpse into the diarised accounts of genealogical research undertaken by two members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in England, the first in 1889 and the second in the 1940’s. 

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How To Get The Most From Family Pictures – Special Offer

Subscribers to Family History Monthly magazine can currently enjoy a 10% discount off How To Get The Most From Family Pictures by Jayne Shrimpton, the latest book published by the Society of Genealogists. Simply obtain the offer code from your May 2011 issue of Family History Monthly magazine and place your order in our online shop at This offer ends on 04/05/11 and may not to be used in conjunction with any other offer.

Jayne Shrimpton’s book is essential reading for family historians researching their family pictures. This is the first book to cover inherited artworks – paintings and drawings – and silhouettes, as well as photographs. The book spans the late 18th to mid 20th centuries. Informative, fascinating and thought provoking, it explains the  techniques for accurate picture dating and offers further tips for analysing, understanding and discovering more about historical images. The author is a professional dress historian and picture specialist, with an MA in the History of Art (Dress) and is a former archive assistant at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Now an independent writer, lecturer and consultant, she has over 20 years experience of dating and analysing pictures.

Society of Genealogists update to SoG Data Online

Tim Lawrence , Head of Library Services at the Society of Genealogists has just informed me that he has finished uploading the following family history datasets to SoG Data Online. These can be searched  by members through the Society’s website  following the links to MySoG. Non members can of course make a free search to see if the family surnames they are interested in are represented within any of the datasets.

Datasets now on  SoG Data Online:

Boyd’s Marriage Index (Main series and 1st Miscellaneous Series)

Boyd’s London burials

PCC wills 1750-1800

Vicar General marriage licence allegations index

Faculty Office marriage licence allegations index

St Leonard’s Shoreditch burials 1805-1858

St Andrew Holborn marriages 1754-1812

The following datasets which contain a a large number of  image files will be added to the Society Of Genealogists website more gradually. The completion date for this is May 2011, However, all can now be searched on :

Apprentices of Great Britain

Boyd’s Family Units

Boyd’s London Inhabitants

Teachers Registration Council

Trinity House Calendars

Bank of England Wills

The addition of Boyd’s marriage index, by far the largest dataset, has slowed the search engine down slightly but Tim and his team are investigating this and will, hopeful ly, sort the problem out soon.

Tim also tells me he will be publishing more detailed information about each individual data set shortly so do keep an eye on the blog for this news.

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