SoG Centenary Archives

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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Countdown to Society of Genealogists Centenary Conference

There are still a few places left for the Society’s One Day Conference – an essential day out for dedicated family historians

Breaking the Barriers – Innovative Genealogy in the 20th and 21st Century will take place on Saturday 7th May at the The Royal Overseas League, Over-Seas House, Park Place, 5 St James’s Terrace, London SW1A 1LP

Tickets are available from the Society’s online shop

A full list of Speakers and details of programme for the day can be found on the Society of Genealogists conference blog

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The Society of Genealogists 1911-2011: A century of family history

 After some three years of wBookcopver pptork the Society of Genealogists is delighted to publish its history.  From the very beginning it was hoped that the work would reflect not only the history of the Society of Genealogists over the last century as seen by the personal recollections of the various authors, but also the community in which the Society found itself; social and genealogical. The Society has been at the forefront of changing family history in the United Kingdom. It has been a vocal advocate of the family historian and has pioneered a very democratic revolution in the study of ancestry. Everyone has roots and it became the Society’s ambition that everyone has the same opportunity and ability to discover their ancestors.

At the time of the Society of Genealogists’ foundation J. Horace Round had just published his masterly work Peerage and Pedigree: Studies in Peerage Law and Family History (1910) and would shortly finish his work on The King’s Serjeants and Officers of State, with their Coronation Services (1911). The series of genealogical pocket guides written by Charles Bernau included a small volume entitled Some Special Studies in Genealogy, published in 1908, in which the chapter on poor law records is called The Genealogy of the Submerged. This was the genealogical world into which the Society of Genealogists was born. But, by championing the genealogy of the common man and fighting for the preservation of and access to records that included everyone, the Society has overseen a century in which millions now enjoy tracing their family history. The Google Generation of armchair genealogists may be surprised at what their predecessors managed to achieve before the computer age.

This history gives an account of the Society’s campaigns written by Else Churchill. Michael Sharp assesses the influence of the media on family history. It contains personal memories of former chairmen and members who remember with affection monumental decisions as well as the little everyday struggles. Nicholas Newington-Irving tells tales from the members’ room. Peter Spufford relates the inside story of a group of “young Turks” who took the Society by the scruff of the neck in the middle of the century and changed its whole outlook. Sue Gibbons covers the people and the collections that are the backbone of the Society’s remarkable library and many of the Library’s treasures are shown for the first time in colour illustrations. Our Chief Executive, June Perrin tells of the period of change in the last ten years. The book explains the background to the foundation of the Society in 1911. The gripping tale of how the Heralds tried to contain what they saw as the threat from the “irresponsible” new Society of Genealogists is outlined for the first time by Patric Dickinson. Of course any genealogical book needs names and there are indexed lists of Officers, Senior Staff, Trustees, Fellows and Founding Members along with an up to date list of all the obituaries covered in the Genealogists’ Magazine.

Naturally, the editors of the work are immensely grateful to contributors for their individual chapters. They did indeed volunteer to celebrate the achievements of the Society and this history is the story they wanted to tell. However, it must also be said that the book could not have been made without the considerable effort of the designers Graham Collet and Sybil Spence and the photographs of many of the SoG treasures taken by Ed Templeman. If, in the rush to print we didn’t thank them formally, then I must take this opportunity to do so now. It was great fun exploring the history of the Society of Genealogists and the people who influenced the century of family history. Many care passionately about the Society. I’m grateful to Roy Stockdill for his editorial guidance and sub-editing. It was a delight to check facts with Nicholas Newington Irving, though some still eluded us till the bitter end and if we have missed more than I apologise.  I still wish we knew the names of the two lady typists who were engaged in the 1920s to create the Apprentices of Great Britain index. Any errors, omissions or oversights will no doubt be brought to our attention. I leave it to others to review. However in working on the book we became immensely proud of the Society of Genealogists and look forward to the next century of family history.

The Society of Genealogists 1911-2011: A century of family history, 2011, 216pp is published by the Society and available from our bookshop at £25 (£22.50 for members). It may be possible to arrange for a special hard-bound presentation copy to be ordered according to demand. If anyone is interested in this then they should contact the bookshop on

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The Society of Genealogists at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011 – show report

The Society of Genealogists again celebrated a successful weekend at Olympia as Who Do You Think You Are? Live reached its fifth year. 

The Society’s centenary celebrations were launched in style at a reception hosted by the Society’s centenary sponsors and we were delighted that our new book The Society of Genealogists: A Hundred Years of Family History arrived just in time to take to the show. An interview with Debra Chatfield from FMP talking  to Chris Paton about the Society of Genealogists Data online is available on Youtube

As usual the membership team and volunteers manned the SoG’s stand (newly designed for this year) to sign up new members and tell everyone about the Society. I don’t think we broke last year’s record for sign ups but we came pretty close which, considering the economy, was a considerable achievement. So a big thank-you to all at the stand and of course to those who were kept busy selling on the bookstall. The new titles (the SoG History and Jayne Shrimpton’s Getting the Most from Family Pictures) seemed to be well appreciated and sold well. I hear SoG Librarian Tim Lawrence was quietly pleased with the quality of books available on his second hand books stall and he and his team raised a nice sum for the Library.

Away from the SoG stand the new space for the Society’s Ask the Experts Area in the upper gallery was well appreciated. We managed the queues well and helped as many people as ever before. Every time I rushed by I saw a huge numbers at the tables with all our expert volunteers so thanks to everyone who helped Lori and her team in that area. However, I do hope we can arrange for that big new space to be a little warmer next year.

The SoG workshops were well attended with many selling out and lots of people standing outside listening in. Some of the handouts and slides from the speakers at WDYTYA?Live 2011 are available on the Family History Show Pages of the Society of Genealogists’ website

Spreading the workshops out in the Upper Gallery was good for the audience and speakers but did mean I had to sprint from one to the other during the handover breaks between talks to thank all my speakers and make sure everyone was happy. I think they were and as usual all the talks were of an excellent quality. I am particularly grateful to the overseas speakers from New Zealand, Israel and America who travelled to take part and it was great to meet so many eminently knowledgeable speakers. However if you missed me in the blur as I strode purposefully past you know where I was heading.

The Society of Genealogists’ Family History show remains an integral part of WDYTYA?Live and the stall holders seemed as busy as ever. It struck me that a few voices disappeared as the stall holders talked to thousands of visitors. We were delighted to see the return of some societies who haven’t been able to attend in past years.

So what news did we hear at the show? Brand Events,who organised the event for the last 5 years, has sold its major share of the show to BBC Magazines Bristol who will be managing the event from now on and who have lots of new plans to take the event further. I didn’t have time to enquire on what’s new on all the stands so I am grateful to fellow bloggers and inveterate news hounds Dick Eastman and Chris Paton for posting show news round ups so early. The British Library announced its digitisation of the India Collections. The Genealogists is adding war memorials and Deceased Online has added Scottish MIs. Findmypast will be adding transcriptions of Scottish census records only. The trends for the future look to be technology and its potential for enhancing the family history experience so look out for new workshop content and more social network elements for next year’s WDYTYA?Live 2012. See you there.

 We will be posting some of our own pictures  from the show in due course but here are a few pictures taken by our friend Chris Paton and Pictures from Dick Eastman posted on their blogs

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Deadline for Society of Genealogists’ conference discount rates is approaching

The deadline for the earlybird discounts for the Society of Genealogists Centenary Conference is February 28th 2011

Breaking the Barriers – Innovative Genealogy in the 20th and 21st Century  –  Saturday 7th May 2011
The Royal Overseas League, Over-Seas House, Park Place, 5 St James’s Terrace, London SW1A 1LP

The Society’s Centenary Conference  Breaking the Barriers – Innovative Genealogy in the 20th and 21st Century is a celebration of the past century of genealogy and the role played by Society of Genealogists.  The topics will, of course, look forward to the future of the subject. The conference will include a full day of lectures and networking luncheon and dinner, featuring nationally and internationally known genealogical speakers.

The conference lectures streams examine how the SoG has influenced genealogy over the century. It will look at the period that saw the foundation of the Society. It will focus on issues facing family historians today and the technical advances that may help. We will discuss where we see the subject going in the future. It will show how family historians can take their genealogy further and break the barriers of their research.

The full programme and list of speakers can be found on the Society of Genealogists Centenary Blog

Places are limited. Click here to book a place via the Society of Genealogists online shop

Registration from 9.30am

Conference 10.15-6.30pm, Conference Reception & Banquet 7-ca 9.45pm

Conference prices

Conference including lunch (early bird rate up to 28 February 2011)        £99
(full rate from 1 March 2011  – £120)

Conference Banquet (early bird rate up to 28 February 2011)                      £30
(full rate from 1 March  2011  – £35)

Conference & Banquet (discount early bird rate up to 28 February 2011)     £116
(full rate from 1 March  2011   £140)

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