Society of Genealogists

Shows the SoG building, standing outside and looking up to Clerkenwell Road
Guided tours icon Library icon Study area icon Hearing disability facilities icon Wheelchair access icon

The Society of Genealogists offers a wonderful combination of research material, expert guidance and practical support for anyone interested in family history or social history.

We are a charity whose objects are to promote, encourage and foster the study, science and knowledge of genealogy. We were founded in 1911 and ever since then we've been collecting family history documents - long before local record offices opened.

We are the National Family History Centre and families have always deposited their family history documents and records with us for safe keeping. So, we have documents and items that you might not expect to find.

We are committed to an education and skills programme, delivering a wide range of talks, walks and and courses for people new to family history, social and family historians, and genealogists. Our family history Free Access Area in the Lower Library offers free access to most of the pay-per-view genealogy websites.

Venue Type:

Library, Archive, Association or society

Opening hours

Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday: 10-6, Thursday: 10-8

Closed: Sunday, Monday, Friday

Admission charges

Regular free talks on Wednesdays
Free Library Tours every second Saturday
One-hour talk: £8.00
Half-day course: £20.00
Full-day course: £35.00
Access to our Library and databases for research: small fee payable at Reception

Getting there

Our cul de sac, Charterhouse Buildings, is located off the traffic intersection at Goswell Road/Old Street. The nearest tube stations: Barbican or Old Street
Bus: 4, 56, 55, 243

Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Shows a head with lots of knowledge floating out of it

Family History Skills Stage 2 - evening classes

  • 28 September 2017 6-8pm
  • 5 October 2017 6-8pm
  • 12 October 2017 6-8pm
  • 19 October 2017 6-8pm
  • 26 October 2017 6-8pm
  • 2 November 2017 6-8pm
  • 16 November 2017 6-8pm
  • 23 November 2017 6-8pm
  • 30 November 2017 6-8pm

Join us at the Society of Genealogists' popular evening course to develop your family history skills. This is our second set of evening classes to develop your research and genealogy knowledge. Our team of professional genealogists present a carefully designed curriculum to develop your skills.

Deadline to enrol: 30 August

Who is this course for?
Stage 2 is designed for those who already have some experience of genealogical research and are familiar with the basic records (General Registration, the censuses, directories, parish registers and bishops' transcripts and wills).

Stage 2 covers the records and techniques that professional genealogists use to take their research further.

Evening classes can be a great way to study genealogy. Away from all the other pressures of life for two hours, you can focus on how to find your ancestors and flesh out your family's history. You'll spend time with other people in the class that share your interests and are as keen as you are to learn new skills.

Suitable for

  • 18+


Total price for all 13 weeks: £225.00


Shows an image taken from our Middle Library

For Family Historians: Free Library Tours

  • 23 September 2017 11am-1pm

Full of family history treasures and records, directories and databases, 3 floors and over 120,000 items - what's not to like?

If you're working on your family's history, the Society of Genealogists' Library is a great place to explore. You can come in and browse, just asking the staff and volunteers for help when you need it. But, seriously, with so much to see, the Society recommends that you take a library tour.

They're free, they're only 1½ hours long, and they're every second Saturday.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


This is a free tour.


Shows a painting of the Battle of Barnet

An Illustrated History of Barnet

  • 27 September 2017 2-3pm

The issuing of a charter for a market in 1199 gave Chipping Barnet its name. The growth of the coaching industry in the 17th century gave Barnet High Street 45 pubs. And the town gave its name to a battle attended by three kings.

Using drawings, maps and photos Rob Kayne helps us examine the rich history of Barnet from medieval times to the present.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


One-hour talk: £8.00; discounted price for SoG Members: £6.40


Shows the screen on TNA website where you can download a will

Getting the Best from The National Archives and its Website

  • 30 September 2017 10:30am-1pm

A day at The National Archives at Kew can be a daunting experience. Join this course and arrive better prepared.

We'll begin by looking at resources you can use before you visit to discover exactly which documents you need to order. You will then make the best use of your time in the reading rooms.

There will be tips to help you find what you want easily and quickly.


This one-hour talk starts at 2.00 pm and costs £8.00. For Members of the Society of Genealogists, a discounted price of £6.40 is available. For us to hold a place for you, the talk must be booked and paid for in advance. You can do this by visiting our website or phoning us on 020 7553 3290.


Shows a set of images of our archives

Getting the Most from the Society of Genealogists' Online Data - free talk

  • 4 October 2017 2-3pm

The Society of Genealogists has made more than 11 million records available online. The collection is known as SoG Data Online. If you're a Member of the Society, you can view the full details of any record from home. If you're not a Member, you can carry out an initial search to see what is held before you visit us or contact us.

SoG Data Online is constantly growing because we're continuing to add transcripts, indexes and images from our Library. It's becoming an increasingly valuable free resource for Members. The records cover apprenticeships, Boyd's indexes, court records, education records, immigration, marriage licences, poll books, poor law records and wills.

There is a search option that allows you to look for names or just browse types of records. In this 1-hour talk the Head of Library Services describes how to effectively search the records, and gives an update on what is available.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children




Shows water polo players

Your Sporting Ancestors

  • 7 October 2017 2-5pm

Do you have ancestors that played amateur or professional sport? Keith Gregson is an expert on sporting history so his half-day course is going to be very interesting. Keith begins by describing the history of British Sport. However, he wants to leave plenty of time for you to tell him what your specific areas of interest are, so that he give you plenty of background.

In the second session, Keith explains where to find good sources of information for learning more about your sporting ancestors – amateur and professional. 

Keith Gregson has written many books and articles on sporting history, including football, rugby, cricket, boat racing, athletics, wrestling and tennis. Visit his website for more detail:


This half-day course costs £20.00. For Members of the Society of Genealogists, a discounted price of £16.00 is available.


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Using Mind Mapping for Genealogical Problem Solving

  • 14 October 2017 10:30am-1pm

Since Tony Buzan coined the term back in the 1970s, mind mapping has grown in popularity, mainly in education and business. Recently mind mapping has cropped up as a technique to help genealogists, thanks to the efforts of Ron Arons.

In this workshop, Geoff Young explains how mind mapping works, takes a peek at the burgeoning market for mind mapping software tools, and looks at using mind mapping to help solve tricky genealogical problems.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


This half-day course costs is £20.00. For Members of the Society of Genealogists, a discounted price of £16.00 is available.


Shows a map of Pimlico from 1827

Family History: Traces of Pimlico’s Past

  • 18 October 2017 2-3pm

Bounded on three sides by rivers, this district of London has changed its name, its character and its location over the last 10 centuries. A careful study of Pimlico's topography reveals medieval market gardening and an abbot's holiday home, Georgian docks and distilleries, a canal with no boats, Florence Nightingale's industrial uncle, and social changes brought about by wars and a railway station. 

Join us for a 1-hour talk on this amazing area of London with Rob Kayne.

There are no special entry requirements and you do not need to be a Member of the Society of Genealogists. This talk is for anyone who is tracing their family ancestors. Expect a friendly atmosphere, an expert tutor and lots of detail. Tea and coffee are provided during a break in the session.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


This one-hour talk costs £8.00. For Members of the Society of Genealogists, a discounted price of £6.40 is available.


Shows Marshalsea Prison used for debtors

Family History: Debts, Debtors, Bankrupts and Bigamists

  • 21 October 2017 10:30am-1pm

Throughout the 1700s and 1800s many people, as today, got badly into debt. Some were unable to repay them and often ended in gaol. Records were generated at every level.

In this half-day course Ian Waller looks at the amount of family history information the records contain, referring to several famous and not so famous cases from all the social classes. Ian examines the causes and remedies and also looks at the way spouses walked out on those in debt, causing many bigamy cases as a result.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


Half-day course: £20.00 Members of the Society of Genealogists: £16.00.


Shows a family group that have migrated

Understanding Rural Migration in Late 19th Century England

  • 25 October 2017 2-3pm

Migration within England during the 19th century was not only higher than one might imagine, but also very complex and varied. Many factors could affect the decision to migrate.

To explore the varied nature of this migration process, historian Mathew Homewood took 36 carefully-selected villages from 6 different regions of England, and traced the migratory habits of the children noted on the 1851 census. The results from this unique dataset revealed that migration patterns differed across counties, and between districts and villages within each county. For example, the research revealed the pull of the small cotton mills on young men and women around Clitheroe in Lancashire, the effect of the high rates of women’s domestic industry in Bedfordshire, and the significant effect of the local fishing industry in the Northumberland village of Craster.

Additionally, this in-depth research technique allowed a greater insight into regular patterns of migration from one specific place to another, known as the ‘friends and relatives’ effect.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


One-hour talk: £8.00 For Members of the Society of Genealogists, a discounted price of £6.40 is available.


Shows the door of the church that Luther pinned his theses to 500 years ago.

500 Years of Reformation: Tracing Nonconformist Ancestors

  • 28 October 2017 10:30am-5pm

Nonconformity to 1850 – Michael Gandy
An overview of when and why and how various Protestant groups disagreed with the Church of England - and each other, what they did when they were in power and what happened when they lost it. The talk relates primarily to England.

Records of Nonconformity: Hatched, Matched and Despatched outside the Church of England - Alec Tritton
By 1851 it was estimated that some 50% of church attendance was outside the established Church of England. So what are the signs that your ancestor may not have conformed? How were they treated? Where else can you look if they aren't in the parish registers?

Worship, Weird and Wonderful: Religious Sects from the 17th to 20th Century – Alec Tritton
A look at some of the stranger & more colourful religious sects that have flourished in the English speaking world including Shakers, Peculiar People, Walworth Jumpers, Jezreelites, Millerites, Southcottians, Cokelers, John Wroe and the Christian Israelites etc.

Nonconformist records held at the Society of Genealogists – Else Churchill
The Society’s collections include many copies and transcripts of nonconformist records and unique indexes and databases within the collections. My talk will highlight recent developments with the Society’s digital records and new accessions along with many items of interest in the library relating to various denominations and sects.

Questions and Answers

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


Full-day course: £35.00
If you are a Member of the Society of Genealogists: £28.00.
It’s easy to become a Member and there are loads of other benefits and discounts. Visit our website ( to find out more.


Getting there

Our cul de sac, Charterhouse Buildings, is located off the traffic intersection at Goswell Road/Old Street. The nearest tube stations: Barbican or Old Street
Bus: 4, 56, 55, 243

Society of Genealogists
14 Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Road
Greater London


Find out more on our website.




Events bookings

020 7553 3290

General Information

020 7251 8799

Library queries

020 7702 5485


020 7250 1800

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.