This week's feature for #AncestryHour comes from Else Churchill, a familiar name to many of us as the genealogist at the 'Society of Genealogists' in London. Her article is packed with useful information and links for researchers out there, for whom, like myself, London is not easily accessible. It focuses on the information that is available online, how to find it, and where to go for further help and advice.
In addition to providing resources for anyone researching ancestors from the UK, Ireland and overseas, the Society is also an educational charity and hosts an extensive programme of events and courses. The Society actively seeks to represent and advocate on behalf of the UK’s genealogical community and of course publishes an esteemed, award winning series of genealogical guides which are available from the Society’s online bookshop or as e.books from Amazon. The Society’s journal the Genealogists Magazine is published and sent to members four times a year.
Home to the Society is the large four storey Charterhouse Buildings, off Goswell Road on the borders of the City of London and Clerkenwell and about a 5 minute walk from the Barbican underground station. It houses the Society’s extensive library of printed books, unpublished research notes and pedigrees compiled over the last century. Essentially the Society aims to help you build your family tree by asking where did your ancestors live? what did they do?, and has any research been done before on the family? Hence the library collects genealogical resources relating to the places where our ancestors lived and what they did in their lives and seeks to be a repository for published and unpublished genealogical research and reference material.
The Society appreciates that not everyone can conveniently visit the Society’s building in London and would much prefer to access the library and collections online from home and that is becoming increasingly possible, but of course not everything in our library is our copyright or ours to publish online.
More in-depth record guides show how to find and use important genealogical sources such as:
Civil Registration Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates
http://www.sog.org.uk/learn/help-getting-started-with-genealogy/guide-three/ , Census
http://www.sog.org.uk/learn/help-getting-started-with-genealogy/guide-four/ , Parish Registers
http://www.sog.org.uk/learn/help-getting-started-with-genealogy/guide-five/ , Criminal Records
http://www.sog.org.uk/learn/help-getting-started-with-genealogy/guide-7-criminal-records/ etc., with links to helpful websites .
There are also useful hints and tips pages
http://www.sog.org.uk/learn/education-sub-page-for-testing-navigation/ which give advice on some of the common questions directed at the Society, such as how to find, or even become, a professional researcher, or how to read documents or surname searching at the Society of Genealogists (I’ll come back to this guide later).
If you have hit a brick wall then the Society has various ways to help and advise members and non-members about their family history research. The website’s ‘Learn’ menu has direct links http://www.sog.org.uk/the-library/advice-service/ to show you how to get advice from Library volunteers & staff, either by personal consultations in the library on Saturday afternoon, or using the Advice Telephone Line +44 (0) 20 7490 8911 on Thursdays 6pm - 7.45 pm or Saturdays 11 am - 1pm and 2pm - 4 pm. Of course the Society happily answers questions via email directed firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members of the Society of Genealogists also have the opportunity to Ask an Expert http://www.sog.org.uk/learn/ask-an-expert/ directly by enrolling on the SoG Members Roots Web email list. A question posted on the list appears as an email to any member who has subscribed, and the enquirer can draw upon the many years of collective knowledge and expertise of fellow members who can make suggestions and offer to help. You never know - you may even link in to someone who wrote a book on the subject. Many will be familiar with our member Experts who also offer the personal ‘one to one’ consultations at the ever popular Ask the Experts area of the Who Do You Think You Are? Live genealogy show in Birmingham.
The Library pages http://www.sog.org.uk/the-library of the website include lots of information about the library. As well as information about visiting the building in London, its arrangement, floor guide, the opening hours, day search fees and directions etc., the library news highlights new accessions and collections acquired by the library and additions to the digitised online data. The Society’s Librarian, Tim Lawrence, frequently gives talks on using the library and its collections, and the PowerPoint Slides from his talks http://www.sog.org.uk/the-library/library-talks can also be found on the library pages with some interesting illustrations of sources that it contains.
The Society’s Library in Clerkenwell is housed over four floors. As many Americans don’t use the term ground floor the SoG calls it’s floors the Lower Library (basement level), Ground Floor, Middle Library (first floor level) and Upper Library (second floor level).
http://www.sog.org.uk/uploads/Floor_guide_(Mar10)_2.pdf - where you will find visitor information, directions and information for preparing for a visit.
The website page “Search Records" http://www.sog.org.uk/search-records guides an enquirer through the many pathways to finding information and provides several options for searching the various types and formats of materials in the library.
Start with Search Records Pages of the website, particularly using the Library Catalogue http://s10312uk.eos-intl.eu/S10312UK/OPAC/Index.aspx which lists most (but not all) of what we have in various media – books, CDs, microforms, maps etc but NOT the various manuscript archive collections.
the 7000 roll pedigrees in the archives
and the members’ birth briefs
If you can’t get to the library to view an item then the website has links to the Society’s paid search/copy service http://www.sog.org.uk/the-library/search-copy-service which explains how items in the library can be copied and sent.