Society of Genealogists and FamilySearch announce partnership to digitize family histories

The Society of Genealogists and FamilySearch are about to start work on a programme of digitization of some 9000 family history books and over 5000 genealogy pamphlets, offprints and unpublished tracts from the Society of Genealogists’ extensive genealogy library. Since its foundation in 1911 the Society of Genealogists has collected the largest assembly of narrative family histories and biographies in the United Kingdom. Some of its collection are unique materials deposited in in the Society’s library for the use of genealogists. This digitization programme not only ensures the preservation of the library’s books, bound monographs and multi-volume histories, but also enables the Society to make them available to a wider audience. Scanned digital images of the works will be available for use in the library and, where possible, will be published online as part of the SoG’s digital collections. 

Items within the family histories collection include, for example, the 3 volume Records of the Cust Family of Pinchbeck, Stamford and Belton in Lincolnshire compiled by Lady Elizabeth Cust in 1894 (the first woman to join as a Founding Fellow the Society of Genealogists in 1911). There are some 50 volumes of bound notes and manuscripts for the Scattergood Family acquired by the SoG in 1967 and 3 volumes of bound typescript notes abstracting wills, registers etc.  entitled Rolfe Family Records compiled by A W Rolfe and donated in 2003. The SoG holds a facsimile of what is considered to be one of the first compiled family histories  which is of the Berkeley family compiled in the 1620s by John Smyth of Nibley (d 1640) using public records and family muniments and which was republished in an  abstract in 1821 edited by Thomas Dudley Posbroke. While most are excellent, exact and authoritative works, some (very few!) may be like the first published English family history by Robert Halstead called Succinct Genealogies of the Noble and Ancient Houses of Alno, Broc and Mordaunt (1685)  which is replete with forged charters and fictitious pedigrees!!

The project will involve not only the preservation and scanning of the items but also an extensive amount of work to re-catalogue and withdraw the items to safe storage, thus freeing up considerable space in the library.

The project is expected to last at least two years with equipment and personnel provided by FamilySearch working in the Upper Library with SoG volunteers and cataloguers.

Else Churchill


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