Indexing projects

The Society is always looking for volunteers to work on typing and indexing projects.

These range from relatively small, individual jobs to creating major databases. Several of our current projects are now being carried out using an on-line transcription tool supplied by

For the online indexing you will need broadband internet access and, for the small, one-off indexing projects, spreadsheet software such as Excel or Open Office. For some projects we need people who can come in to the Society on a Monday or Friday to carry out the work.

If you would like to help please email our Volunteer Co-ordinator Mary Timmins or write to her care of the Society, stating whether you want to work at the Society or from home.

Our current projects:

The Business Index

This project is an index to British shopkeepers, businessmen and women and their companies. The primary source material is a series of books published in the 1890s by the Brighton firm of Robinson, Son and Pike which later became W T Pike. Pike seems to have travelled to large towns and cities all over the British Isles, offering the local corporation and businesses the opportunity to appear in a book containing a history of the area, its attractions, major institutions and its commercial life. There are sometimes details of town councillors, often with vignette-sized photographs and one has a picture of the local football team! Shops, businesses and manufacturers probably had to pay for inclusion, the amount depending on the size of the entry. The proprietor or manager seems to have been visited at work and interviewed to provide the copy for the book.

Trade directories only contain a bare listing of all local businesses but those included in these books have a minimum of a paragraph about each shop, often showing a photograph of it or the proprietor.  There are also frequently details of when and from whom the business was acquired (often a named relative). Family members working in the business are usually given and, if a person is prominent in local society, the entry often mentions membership of the corporation and leisure activities including involvement with clubs, charities and other institutions. This kind of information tells a lot about an individual’s character and is extremely difficult to find elsewhere in such a comprehensive form. The illustrations are photographs of people and places which were taken for the purpose or acquired from local sources and often include line drawings of products sold by the business.

The first tranche of this index is now online at If you have broadband Internet access and would like to help with indexing these and other sources from home, please contact our Volunteer co-ordinator, Mary Timmins, by email or care of the Society. We also need a Co-ordinator for this project.

Coastguards index

The late Eileen Stage donated a card index containing details of Coastguards to the Society. The cards have now been scanned and volunteers are needed to help index these.This project is currently worked on at the Society on Mondays.


Apprentices of Great Britain 1710 - circa 1810

In 1921 the Society was instrumental in arranging the transfer of records of a tax paid on apprenticeship indentures from the Inland Revenue to the Public Record Office. The Society then created a typescript index to the volumes covering the period 1710 to 1774 but there they stopped. Images of the typed index up to 1774 are now available on but we need volunteers to convert the old index into a fully searchable database. The co-ordinator for this project, Frank Hardy, is also typing up index entries from film copies of the later volumes from 1775 onwards.

At the moment, volunteers have to do this work at the Society but we are investigating a way of enabling them to work on the source material from home. If you would like to help with this project please contact our Volunteer co-ordinator, Mary Timmins, by email or care of the Society.

Alumni Oxonienses 1500-1886

This is a project to index all the entries in Joseph Foster’s Alumni Oxonienses (students of the University of Oxford) covering the period 1500-1866. It contains much valuable information about the students including in many cases parentage, age etc. The project can be carried out from home so if you would like to take part please contact our Volunteer co-ordinator, Mary Timmins, by email or care of the Society. 

Poll books

Poll books are a useful source of information for family historians as they record not only who voted, but who they voted for. The Society holds one of the best national collections of poll books in the country and we are currently scanning them and making them available on SoG Data Online. The project involves indexing the names in the poll books, and this can be done from home. If you would like to take part in the project, please contact our Volunteer co-ordinator, Mary Timmins, by email or care of the Society.



The Society is always looking for volunteers to help with our projects.

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