After several previous attempts the Society of Genealogists was founded in 1911 as a place where professional genealogists and amateur enthusiasts could meet.
At a time when cataloguing of archive collections were limited early members devoted much of their time to indexing the records. The greatest of these indexes was Percival Boyd’s Marriage Index compiled over a 20 year period and lists about an eighth of all marriages recorded in parish registers before 1837.
At its heart is the Library which is now the largest specialist genealogical library outside North America. It has built up an unrivalled collection of material relating to family history. The collection policy has been suitably broad. There are particular strengths in runs of genealogical and local history magazines. There are also considerable archives mainly consisting of papers deposited by genealogists as a result of their searches.
Education has long been an important part of the Society’s work. Since 1925 it has published an academic journal The Genealogist with a range of articles on all aspects of genealogy. And for many years there have been regular lectures and workshops.
From the beginning the Society has campaigned on behalf of family historians. In its earliest days it was instrumental in preventing the destruction of original returns from the 1911 Census. After a period of indolence the Society has been revived in recent years and has become again Britain’s most important genealogical body.
Anthony J Camp, 'Society of Genealogists'. Local Historian, 22 (1992), 68-73
Simon Fowler, 'Some of the Society's special collections' [Society of Genealogists], Genealogists' Magazine, 26, 11 (2000), 426-8
Simon Fowler is editor of Ancestors Magazine, published by TNA.