…. Societies. Across the globe, there are simply thousands of family history, local history, genealogical societies…. call them what you will. They are often charitable (or not-for-profit) and enable members to gain from shared knowledge and often numerous other society benefits. Large groups often own libraries, sponsor seminars and conferences, publish journals and have discount arrangements with commercial vendors. Some organisations concentrate on a specific niche such as local history of a particular place, family history of a particular geographical area, or study of a particular surname.
To talk about all of the societies across the globe would be absolutely impossible. So, I have chosen three to give you a feel for some of the groups you might wish to be involved with, starting with the oldest. In 1976, Devon Family History Society was founded to promote the study of genealogy and history, especially of Devon families and places, and to educate the public through advice and instruction. Thirty-seven years on, the Society is one of the largest in the UK with over 4,500 members. Run entirely by volunteers, the Society has completed an astonishing number of projects with many more underway.
Conceived in 1978 and formed in 1979, the Guild of One-Name Studies brings together those with an interest in one-name studies and other forms of surname study. Many members register a particular surname and coordinate worldwide research on the name and its variant spellings. Only one person can register a specific surname, though Guild membership is open to all individuals with an interest in surname studies. Celebrating the organisation’s thirty fifth anniversary in 2014, the Annual General Meeting and Conference is being held at Ashford International Hotel and is open to members and non-members (apart from the AGM, of course, which is just for members).
A more recent addition to the global not-for-profit societies is the Society for One-Place Studies, founded in 2013 by six dedicated family and local historians from three continents. The Society is run by volunteers in order to advance the education of the public in one-place studies. Information and further advice is available to all, though members have access to a wide range of enhanced benefits.
The Society welcomes members from around the world with an interest in one particular place, whether it is a street, village, hamlet or town. Registering a study area (or areas) is optional, though recommended if members are active in their research. Take a look at the Studies page to see where the active one-place studies are being undertaken.
There are excellent pages online which list family history and genealogical societies in the UK and Ireland, providing links to the various organisations and Local History Online which links to the websites of 654 local history and related societies, with contact details for a further 561 societies.
So much on offer at the touch of a button – but more importantly, so much active research going on out there. Do you want to be a part of it? Delve deeper into the available societies and organisations …. and join if they are of interest in your studies!