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 class at the SoG

Stage 2 Family History Skills - Evening Classes

  • 5 September 2019 6-8pm
  • 12 September 2019 6-8pm
  • 19 September 2019 6-8pm
  • 26 September 2019 6-8pm
  • 3 October 2019 6-8pm
  • 10 October 2019 6-8pm
  • 17 October 2019 6-8pm
  • 24 October 2019 6-8pm
  • 31 October 2019 6-8pm
  • 7 November 2019 6-8pm
  • 14 November 2019 6-8pm
  • 21 November 2019 6-8pm
  • 28 November 2019 6-8pm
  • 5 December 2019 6-8pm

New skills - new course - starting in September. Learn the records and techniques that professional genealogists use to take their research further. Stage 2 of our essential Family History Skills course builds on your current knowledge and moves you forward.

We offer our Family History Skills course for anyone that already has some experience in genealogical research.

Have you already attended Stage 1 of this course? Then Stage 2 is the next step, teaching you the standards and techniques that professional genealogists use. Over the weeks, our Tutors introduce the records that count and help you use them effectively.

Have you had some success in tracing your family but want to be better? This course offers an excellent way to build on your knowledge. You need to be familiar with the basic records, such as general registration, the censuses, directories, parish registers, bishops' transcripts and wills. You're ready to move to a whole new level.

Are you considering becoming a professional genealogist? This course enables you to attend classes delivered by genealogists, looking forward to sharing their knowledge with you, in a carefully designed, well rounded curriculum.

Why evening classes?
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. 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.

Suitable for

  • 18+


Total price for all 13 weeks: £225.00. Members have a discounted price: £180.


Shows two people in front of a computer

For family historians: free tutorials to help you use genealogy websites

  • 20 July 2019 10:30am-2:45pm

If you are researching your family history, you've probably discovered a number of websites offering lots of genealogical information. It's a good idea to know how to use these websites, especially the best ways to search their vast databases. You might also feel that you're not really very expert at going online at all.

Why not book a free, one-to-one advice session with our tutor? For 45 minutes, our tutor can show you how to search some of the websites (such as Ancestry and Findmypast), help you understand a bit more about what is available online, and give advice on any other online issues you might have.

Come for the whole day and increase your chances of success at finding your ancestors and building your family tree. You can search our online Catalogue, look for books or records in our Library and Archives, and then, using the public PCs in the Lower Library, find out what the family history websites hold.

This tutorial is free to all. However, if you aren't a Member of the Society of Genealogists you will have to pay a small fee to use our Library and Archives.


Free, 45 minute session


Shows an image taken from our Middle Library

For Family Historians: Free Saturday Library Tours

  • 27 July 2019 11am-1pm

At the Society of Genealogists, we're passionate about family history. Since we started in 1911, we've been collecting family history documents, long before the arrival of local record offices - even typewriters were new. As the National Family History Centre, we are the UK-wide repository for family history documents, images and records. So, we have items that you might not expect to find.

Join our free, guided tours to discover three floors of family history treasures and records, directories and databases - over 120,000 items. Your guide will explain how you can explore our books, CDs, databases and microfilm. You'll get a flavour of our collection of parish register copies and nonconformist registers. Our 'Special', 'Document' and 'Typographical' collections contain amazing items steeped in the UK's rich and diverse cultural heritage. Our collections relate to over 44,000 surnames - yours is probably included. Many documents are originals and some date back to the 15th century.

Our tours are free, only 1½ hours long, and they're every second Saturday.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


This is a free tour.


Shows a stylised impression of data flowing

Electronic Workflows for the Family Historian

  • 20 July 2019 10:30am-1pm

Notes in your bag, family tree sketches on bits of paper, photos and print outs in the spare room, searches all over the web – loving every minute but you don’t have a real plan?

Graham Walter wants to show you how to adopt workflows to help you focus on one challenge at a time.

A workflow is just a set of steps performed regularly to reach specific goal. You are probably already using workflows in a casual way. If you make a note of the steps you take when you are successful, you can remind yourself later and then repeat the sequence.

Graham shows how using workflows can enhance your research goals and help you where you have gaps. He covers some useful digital tools to document your workflows plus some that process the flows.

There are no special entry requirements for this talk and you do not need to be a Member of the Society of Genealogists to attend. Expect a friendly atmosphere, an expert tutor and lots of detail. Tea and coffee are provided during a break in the afternoon.


£20.00; discounted for Members of Society of Genealogists £16.00


Shows a weaving factory from the 19th century

Tracing Family History in Lancashire

  • 20 July 2019 2-3pm

For anyone with ancestors that came from Lancashire. The county has a rich history and is a cultural area as well as a geographical one. Anna Watson gives us two talks that aim to help you understand the county and find the records you need.

First talk: The History behind Lancashire's Records
Anna describes the religious, administrative, social and industrial history of the county to explain the richness and variety of the surviving records.
She introduces some of the significant figures in the county’s history and the role that geography has played. All these elements subscribe to make the history of Lancashire's people fascinating and the records bear witness to all of it.

Second talk: Stories from Lancashire's Records
What can we find out about our ancestors from the extensive and varied collections of records that survive for this historic county?
Anna looks at a range of source material from church to business records, manorial to Quarter Sessions courts' records and parish chest to family and estate collections. She also shows what records are online and what is not.
With Anna Watson

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 interested in social history and/or the history of London. Expect a friendly atmosphere, an expert tutor and lots of detail.


£20.00; discounted for Members of Society of Genealogists £16.00


Shows a tortoise

Shortcuts in Family History Research

  • 24 July 2019 2-3pm

Should you take the slow way or the quick way? Is more haste, less speed true?

Michael Gandy wants to remind you that you should try for positive proof, not imaginative guesswork.

In this talk, Michael explains the best way to tackle the major sources of records and aims to help you solve common problems.

There are no special entry requirements for this talk and you do not need to be a Member of the Society of Genealogists to attend. Expect a friendly atmosphere, an expert tutor and lots of detail.


£8.00. Members of the Society of Genealogists: £6.40


Shows a headstone of an angel in a graveyard

Tracing your Ancestors through Death Records

  • 25 July 2019 2-3pm

Death records are among the most enlightening for the researcher. They frequently reveal personal information not found in other sources, which will help you see your ancestor in a much more accurate light.

Finding an ancestor’s death is crucial in another way too: an awful lot could have happened to them between when you saw them recorded on their last census return or baptizing their final child and the day they died. Without the death record you only know half their story. Yet these records are surprisingly underused by many researchers.

Celia Heritage looks in detail at various types of death records, some familiar and some less so. She explains how to get the most from them and how to use them as springboards to discover further vital sources.


£8.00. Members get a discounted price of £6.40


Shows a very old document written in Latin

Latin for Beginners

  • 27 July 2019 10:30am-5pm

In England before 1733 many documents recording routine events in the lives of ordinary people were written in Latin, but not the sort you may have learned at school.

This interactive full-day workshop introduces you to the type of Latin used in historic documents. During the day, David Smith covers the following:
- A short and simple explanation of basic grammar;
- Examples of probate and manorial records, and straightforward early deeds;
- How to convert dates expressed as feast days and regnal years into modern style.

As part of your course, you receive a pack of materials including tables of abbreviations and Roman numerals.

Important notes:
1. You do not need to be able to read old handwriting.
2. Book this course early because spaces are limited.

There are no special entry requirements for this talk and you do not need to be a Member of the Society of Genealogists to attend. Expect a friendly atmosphere, an expert tutor and lots of detail.


£40.00; discounted for Members of Society of Genealogists £32.00


Shows a cat lying on a keyboard

Getting the Most from SoG Data Online

  • 31 July 2019 2-3pm

The Society of Genealogists has made more than 11 million records available online. The collection is known as SoG Data Online. It 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 held include apprenticeships, Boyd's indexes, court records, education records, immigration, marriage licences, poll books, poor law records and wills.

In this one-hour talk, Else Churchill describes how to effectively search these records, and gives an update on what is available.




Shows items you need for research: camera, notebook, magnifying glass

Family History: Good Research Techniques

  • 3 August 2019 10:30am-1pm

Learn the best ways to search for your ancestors and build your family tree.

Celia Heritage takes an in-depth look how to do your research so that you avoid making mistakes and get the most out of the records you use. Celia also looks at the likely causes of the brick walls that you may hit during your research and the best way to tackle them.

Sources covered include birth, marriage and death, census and parish records.


Half-day course. The cost is £20.00. For Members of the Society of Genealogists, a discounted price of £16.00 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 board with 'you've got this' and a laptop

Practical Blogging for Family History - Using Wordpress

  • 3 August 2019 2-5pm

So you think you would like to try blogging? Well, I think that’s an excellent idea! Blogs are a great way to express yourself, connect with others who share your passions, and share information.

Blogging has entered a realm of its own, from fad to industry. People are entering the blogosphere daily, thousands every day. At one time, a blog would have been called a diary, journal, scrapbook, or storytelling. It is just one form of a website but one that is much simpler to use and needs no knowledge of programming languages.

Alec Tritton has been blogging for over 12 years but we were all blogging newbies at one point. True, bloggers come to the table with varying degrees of online and social media experience, but we’ve all made more than a few mistakes. Truth is, a blog is a website and many people have great difficulty in setting up their first blog. Although no programming skills are needed, the terminology used feels complicated or just isn’t explained simply.

The evolution from website to blog changes how people communicate. So Alec looks at:
- How blogs developed, to help you learn more about blogging;
- How to use and install your own blog using the Wordpress platform, going through the process step by step;
- The different aspects of blogging using plugins, themes, text, images, sounds and videos;
- Common mistakes to avoid.

There are no special entry requirements for this talk and you do not need to be a Member of the Society of Genealogists to attend. Expect a friendly atmosphere, an expert tutor and lots of detail.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


£20.00; discounted for Members of Society of Genealogists £16.00


Shows two women walking in a street - it is about 1939

Family History: Understanding and Using the 1939 Register

  • 7 August 2019 2-3pm

Learn how to best use the 1939 register online to find your family members living at this time.

The 1939 Register, provides a snapshot of the civilian population of England and Wales just after the outbreak of the Second World War. Details of around 40 million people were recorded, to facilitate the issuing of ration books. Information in the Register was also used to administer conscription and division of labour, and to monitor and control the movement of the population caused by military mobilisation and mass evacuation.

This register is incredibly a useful as a family history resource, especially as the 1931 census for England and Wales was destroyed by fire during the Second World War and no census was taken in 1941. The Register provides the most complete population survey of England and Wales between 1921 and 1951.

While the 1939 Register is not a census, it is arranged along similar lines and is now available to researchers in digital format through the Findmypast and Ancestry websites.

Note: This talk primarily covers usage of the database at Findmypast.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children


£8.00; discounted for Members of Society of Genealogists £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


Visit our website.


To book a course or talk

Talk to a librarian

Join us.

Become a volunteer


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.