The Society of Genealogists
The oldest genealogical society in the U.K., the Society of Genealogists, has just celebrated a century of helping genealogists with their research. They have a great deal to offer researchers with roots in the United Kingdom.
The Society’s home at 14 Charterhouse Buildings in Goswell Road in London is home to an excellent research library, the largest family history research center in the U.K. The online catalog, SOGCat, provides access to more than 120,000 books, microfiche, microfilms, and more.
Over the past few years, the Society has started making information available on their website. There is a county-by-county guide for England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands. It provides information on the general registers, marriage licenses, censuses, and other records.
Surname indexes have been created and made available online for several collections not included in SOGCat. The Member Birth Briefs indexes records provided to the Society by its members. The Society has a large number of pedigree charts, from small individual sheets to large scrolls. These are indexed in the Pedigree Collection index. The Surname Document Collection index provides access to the large number of individual documents held at the library. These may include vital record certificates, deeds, wills, licences, apprenticehips, wills, etc. Many are original documents and some are abstracts or transcripts. These indexes are available to the public for free.
Because not all individuals can get to the Charterhouse Buildings, the Society operates a search and copy service. If you find something in the indexes, they can make a copy and send it to you. They will also search indexed materials in the collections. Unfortunately, they are not staffed to search unindexed materials or conduct extensive research.
Members of SOG get access to additional searchable information. There is an active program to index and abstract materials from the collections. Boyd’s records (Family Units, Inhabitants of London, London Burials, Marriage Index), marriage licences, apprenticeship records, poor law records, wills, and parish records are some of the most interesting databases available.
One of the biggest projects of the Society is running the annual Family History Fair. It is run in conjunction with the annual Who Do You Think You Are? Live! show. For those of you who love used books as much as I do, they always run a book sale as part of their presence at the show.
The SOG staff is quite friendly and happy to assist patrons, whether in person or online. The Society is currently holding a membership special. The £10 membership join fee is being waved. U.K. residents can join for £47, and overseas members pay only £29 (about $45 U.S.). Check them out at www.sog.org.uk.