Society of Genealogists Library Archives


Did your ancestor work on a lifeboat?

If so there may be a reference to him/her in a new family history resource on the Members’ Area of the Society of Genealogists website.

Lifeboat gallantry Did your ancestor work on a lifeboat?The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) was formed in 1824 and since then over 2,400 gold, silver and (since 1917) bronze medals have been awarded for gallantry in saving lives from shipwrecks. The book “Lifeboat Gallantry” edited by Barry COX and published by Spink in 1998 provides the first complete list of all such medals to be published, together with details of the acts of heroism involved – incredible feats of endurance and seamanship in the face of adversity.

A copy of the book is held in the Society’s library (shelfmark MED/68) and volunteer Frank Hardy has recently produced an index to all 2644 people mentioned in the text. This index has now been made available on the Members’ Area of the Society’s website and a free basic search can be made here.

If a visit to the library is not possible a photocopy can be ordered through the Society’s Search and Copy Service

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Index of Catholic nuns 1598-1914

A recent addition to the Society of Genealogists’ Members Area is an index of Catholic nuns covering the period 1598-1914.

In the reign of Henry VIII (1509-1547) all religious houses of women and men were closed. There was a small revival under Queen Mary (1553-1558) but at her death the few nuns who wished to remain so went abroad.

In 1598 a congregation of specifically English nuns was established in the Spanish Netherlands (modern Belgium). Many more followed and for nearly two hundred years Catholic nuns lived out their lives in the Catholic countries of Europe. Many of their records have been published by the Catholic Record Society and the relevant volumes contain more detailed histories. All these orders were enclosed and the ladies within them lived lives of prayer.

With the advent of the French Revolutionary Wars in 1792 most of these convents were expelled. Fortunately they were able to return to England where Catholicism was now legal.

Nuns 244x300 Index of Catholic nuns 1598 1914

With the great expansion of Catholic numbers in the United Kingdom, and especially of poor urban Catholics from the 1840s, many new Orders came to England from the continent to do active work – mostly teaching or nursing. By 1900 there were over 90 religious orders of Catholic women working in the UK.

In the early 1990s the Catholic Family History Society circulated all the organisations of Catholic religious women working in England to ask about the records of individuals. A great many lists were received and computerised and this index (which lists over 12,000 individuals from about 60 orders) is the result. The Catholic FHS has no further information about the women listed here.

In many cases religious orders had a centralised structure and an archivist for the whole order was able to supply a copy of a complete list. The Carmelites and the Sisters of Mercy, however, had no such central structure. Lists were received from particular houses but not from others.

Note that England, Wales and Scotland, with which this index is concerned, formed a quite separate province from Ireland. This index contains a great many Irish women but they have all joined the English Province, not the Irish Province, of their Order. The cut off date was entry in 1914 so very few women born after about 1895 will be found here. However a very few orders sent later material with permission to incorporate it.

Further information on individuals may well be available from the Religious Order concerned. The address of the current religious superior will be found in the Catholic Directory. Most orders have archivists and many of those are members of the Catholic Archives Society. Many have published articles describing their holdings in that society’s journalCatholic Archives of which the Society of Genealogists has a complete run.

To search the index go to the Members Area.

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Was your ancestor a Baptist?

If so ybaptists Was your ancestor a Baptist?ou may find information about them in the Society of Genealogists’ family history library, which holds registers and gravestone inscriptions from many Baptist chapels as well as publications such as the Baptists’ Handbook. The Society has also published a book on how to trace your Baptist ancestry.

Recently however a new resource has been  added to the Members’ Area of the Society’s website to help you in your quest. This lists several thousand births, marriages and deaths occurring in the Baptists’ Magazine from the 18th and 19th centuries.

A significant number of the entries relate to Baptist ministers, deacons and their families, and many women are listed. Some of the entries are particularly useful genealogically eg. Edward Foster’s father and grandfather are shown, together with the year in which they were born. Some of the entries do not appear in the Baptist registers deposited at the National Archives (class RG4), so this may be the only record of a vital event.

Each entry gives a reference to the year of the Baptist Magazine (BM) in which the notice appears. Sometimes (but frustratingly not always) the page number is also given. A complete set of the Baptist Magazine for 1809 – 1890 (except 1856) is held at Spurgeon’s College in South London. The Angus Library and Dr Williams Library also have good coverage of the title.

To search the Baptists’ Magazine index go to the Members’ Area. A basic name search is free but to view the record you will need to be a member.

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Society of Genealogists’ Librarian Sue Gibbons Retires

 

Staff, Family History Volunteers, SoG Members and Trustees came together this week to wish Sue Gibbons all the best in her retirement.  SueGibbonsandSoGstaff thumb Society of Genealogists Librarian Sue Gibbons RetiresSue has been Librarian at the Society of Genealogists since 1991 and will be missed by all her friends.  Sue pioneered the Society’s online  Library catalogue (SoGCAT) and the microfiching and digitisation of the SoG collections. Never ones to miss an opportunity to get together for a chat, nibbles and a few (soft) drinks everyone came downstairs to hear SoG Chairman Colin Allen wish Sue all the best and present her with her with life membership of the Society along with flowers, champagne and presents bought for her from the collections.DSC 1637 thumb Society of Genealogists Librarian Sue Gibbons Retires  Travel was the theme of the gifts with a SatNav to guide her on her way and vouchers to put towards travel.

However, Sue seems pretty sure of the direction she is going in and has firm plans for her retirement. She will continue as a volunteer at the SoG on Mondays and Friday working on digitisation projects and perhaps she will now get time to write that book she has been promising ! But no doubt she will get stuck into her own family history research and win her the battle with that enormous garden that she has been telling us about over the years.  We’d like to wish Sue all the best for the future and thank her for being such a great asset to the Society and for helping so many family historians on their way.

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Was your ancestor in the British Army?

If so the Society of Genealogists’  family history library may contain details about his time in service. Our collection includes copies of Soldiers’ documents from 1760-1900, a run of the Army Lists from 1740 onwards, many records from the First World War and a good collection of regimental histories to shed background information on what his regiment was doing.

Now the Society’s Members Area has added a new resource to help you in your family history research. Member Nicholas Newington-Irving has gone through the Society’s library collections noting references to Military people mentioned in Journals, local and family histories etc.

The resulting index only includes biographical articles relating to individual soldiers (therefore the contents of works such as the army lists are not included) but it may lead you to information you would not otherwise have found. It relates primarily, but not exclusively, to commissioned officers in the British Army and the pre 1947 Indian Army.

The shelf mark for each item is given but if a visit to the library is not possible a photocopy of the article can be ordered through the Society’s ‘Search and Copy’ service.

A free basic search in the index can be made by going to the Members’ Area and entering the surname you are interested in into the ‘Quick search’ box. To view the full reference you will need to be a member of the Society.

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