Else Churchill is the Genealogist and face of Society of Genealogists. I was very grateful for her generosity of time this afternoon. She gave me a tour of the Society and its collections and was happy to answer my questions.
SoG is located down the end of a lovely quiet street and only about 15 minutes walk from the London Metropolitan Archives. It was founded in 1911 as a meeting place and library for family historians. This is its fourth home since that time. It currently holds approximately 120,000 items including a library of local histories, biographies, autobiographies and family histories. In addition, special unique collections include major collections of documents, manuscript files and pedigree charts. A major program is currently being undertaken to digitise document files. It is envisaged that this will take some years to complete even with the services of volunteers but it is recognised as an important project worth doing.
The Society owns the building it occupies but still needs a solid financial membership base to remain sustainable. An annual membership drive takes place at Who Do You Think You Are? Live, their annual family history show, which they assist in organising each year.
Benefits of membership include free use of the Society’s research facilities and resources, a quarterly journal “Genealogists’ Magazine”, discount on book shop purchases and lectures, courses and visits and the search and copy service. It also allows access to content on the website. The education service of lectures, courses, walks and visits is published a year ahead and is available to book online.
The Society also manages a successful publishing program including the popular “My Ancestor” series.
Any visit to London for family history research would not be complete without a visit to the Society of Genealogists.