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 1 - evening classes

  • 1 June 2017 6-8pm
  • 8 June 2017 6-8pm
  • 15 June 2017 6-8pm
  • 22 June 2017 6-8pm
  • 29 June 2017 6-8pm
  • 6 July 2017 6-8pm
  • 13 July 2017 6-8pm

Join us at the Society of Genealogists' popular evening course to develop your family history skills. Wanting to know about our own family's history is a very natural feeling. Understanding what shaped our ancestors' lives makes history come alive and helps us see our place in it. Most of us enjoy meeting and learning from expert genealogists and we find others' ancestry almost as fascinating as our own. The Society of Genealogists offer Family History Skills for anyone that is interested in genealogy and wants to explore their family history. In a carefully, well rounded curriculum, our Tutors introduce the records that count and help you use them effectively.

The Family History Skills course has two stages. Stage 1 covers many of the fundamental records, search techniques and standards. 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 varies images of Irish life and the cover of our programme

Family History: Irish Ancestors and Irish Lives - Getaway Week

  • 5 — 9 June 2017

Join us at the Society of Genealogists for an Irish Family History Getaway Week. The Society is hosting this five-day programme in its Library in London. You can attend talks and workshops to find out how to trace your Irish ancestors, and the resources that are available, including new collections and developments. Then, as part of the programme, explore the books, documents and records in our Library and Catalogue and have personal consultations with our Help and Advice Team looking at your family tree. Fourteen talks, help using our Library and lunch are included in the cost.

Spread over the five days, we aim to help you to find your Irish ancestors and to develop your understanding of how they lived and how the history of Ireland affected their lives. The sessions will focus on some broad themes: basic church and civil records; 17th century records; 18th and 19th century life in Ireland; and lesser known and new sources.

Develop a greater knowledge of where to find records and the information they might hold to help you build up a picture of your Irish ancestors’ lives.

Learn more about the underlying social and local context of life in Ireland from the 17th to the 19th century. An appreciation of the issues your ancestors faced enables you to make more sense of what they did and what happened to them.

Find out about the lesser known sources of records and data that will help you to really put some flesh on your ancestors’ bones.

We’ve built into the programme some time each day for you to do your own research. Of course, you will want to use the Society's remarkable Library collection of over 120,000 items - 4 floors full of fascinating records. And you can book personal consultations with the tutors and members of the Society’s expert Help and Advice Team to discuss the challenges in your Irish family tree.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


The cost covers: all talks and workshops, sandwich lunch, access to our Library and personal consultations.

If you are not a Member of the Society of Genealogists: £220.00 for the full five-day course.

If you are a Member: £176.00 for the full five days.


Shows a number of different maps

Using Maps: Tithe, Enclosure, Ordinance Survey and Estate

  • 10 June 2017 2-5pm

In this half-day course, Les Mitchinson introduces us to many of the maps our ancestors used and explains how we can use them and the records that relate to them. He covers:

- Tithe maps date from the middle of the 19th century and are drawn up to help establish the tithe payment due from landowners and their tenants. Maps for each area, and the tithe apportionment records, show the acreage, the names of the tithe-owners and tenants, and the rent due. Each plot or parcel of land was numbered and the number appears on the map. It may show your ancestors' house or plot of land; it may show what the land was used for before your ancestors lived there.

- Enclosure maps – took away strips of land, enclosed them and resulted in allocating villagers land for their own cultivation. Using these maps to explore the county your ancestors lived in can give you all kinds of information about where they lived, the type of house they lived in, who their neighbours were and, of course, what land they farmed.

- Ordnance survey maps - created to show the geography of the country, since the 1790s. Over time they also help you with boundary changes.

- Estate maps - drawn up by landowners to show boundaries, pathways and landmarks. Some estate maps include every dwelling on the property and all the tenants' family names.

Turnpike, Utility, London Poverty, and IHGS County maps will also be mentioned.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


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


Shows a view of the books on Hampshire in our Library

Family History: My Ancestor Came from Hampshire

  • 10 June 2017 10:30am-1pm

Hampshire has an amazing history, a county right in the middle of many of Britain's big moments. At first the Jutes settled in the area, including on the Isle of Wight. Southampton was one of the first Saxon shires to be recorded in 755, as Hamtunscir. In fact, Hampshire formed the border for Saxon England and many Saxon kings are buried at Winchester, including King Alfred. After the Norman Conquest, the Norman Kings established the New Forest in Hampshire for hunting and the county is in the Domesday Book. From then on, the British built castles and forts along the whole coastline to defend Southampton and Portsmouth. Hampshire is known for its harbours, ships and sailors, including the Mayflower and the Titanic. In the 20th century, Hampshire played an essential role in World War II, with the Royal Navy at Portsmouth, the British Army at Aldershot, a Military Hospital at Southampton Water, and Supermarine, the Spitfire designers.

So many of us have ancestors on our family tree with close ties to Hampshire. In this half-day course, Les Mitchinson covers:
- where to look for ancestors;
- how to get the most from the records;
- how to organise your research.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


This half-day workshop costs £20.00. For Members of the Society of Genealogists, a discounted price of £16.00 is available. Please try to book in advance. You can do this by visiting our website or phoning us on 020 7553 3290.


Shows an image taken from our Middle Library

For Family Historians: Free Library Tours

  • 17 June 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 Victorian family

How to Die Like a Victorian

  • 22 June 2017 2-3pm

The Victorian preoccupation with death and dying might seem morbid to modern eyes. But have we now gone too far in the opposite direction?

In 21st century Britain, death tends to be hidden from public view. Today, medical professionals and undertakers take on many of the duties which in the past would have been carried out by the deceased’s relatives, such as washing and ‘laying out’ the body. Unlike the Victorians, today we experience a lack of familiarity with the dead which has led to the discussion of death becoming almost taboo and a subsequent rise in so called ‘death anxiety’.

In this talk, Holly Carter-Chappell examines 19th Century memorial traditions and shows how they are more relevant to modern day practices than we might think.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


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


Shows a book and some people - this is an image from their home page

Family Tree Maker Software - Beyond the Basics

  • 24 June 2017 10:30am-5pm

This course builds upon the Essentials course, which the SoG delivered earlier this year.

During the full-day, Mike Bollinger covers:
- The maintenance 'Power Tool' features that repair, find duplicates, correct and clean up your family tree information;
- Each of the work areas in full detail, giving helpful tips and tricks;
- Time for Questions and Answers, so that you can get help on specific questions and issues relating to Family Tree Maker.

This course is open only to those who have already attended the Essentials course for beginners and refreshers because you need a good grasp of the basic features to build upon. We are carefully limiting bookings so that you can benefit from the intensive nature of the day.


This full-day course costs £35.00. For Members of the Society of Genealogists, a discounted price of £28.00 is available.


Shows a woman looking at a very old book

Radical, Labour and Freethought Archives

  • 28 June 2017 2-3pm

The Bishopsgate Institute is home to the Library and Archives of many radicals and troublemakers, including the infidel Charles Bradlaugh and the blasphemer George Jacob Holyoake. We hold a number of collections that document the people and organisations that dared to challenge the status quo.
Join Library and Archives Manager, Stefan Dickers, to explore:
- the stories that lie behind some of the collections on the shelves at the Bishopsgate Institute;
- the themes of London, labour, co-operation, freethought and protest. 

Stefan qualified as an Archivist in 2001 and started at Bishopsgate in 2005. Before this, Stefan worked in the Archives of the London School of Economics and Senate House Library.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


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


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.