Help using the Library Catalogue

[A talk on how to use the library catalogue can also be found here]

How to start

To find out what we hold for a particular place (parish registers, monumental inscriptions etc), type the name of the parish/town into the box to the left of 'search' and click on ‘search’. From the list of results that appears, click on your parish to see what we hold for that place. You can do the same for overseas places.

For books covering the whole county rather than individual parishes (eg. Cambridgeshire hearth tax) enter “Cambridgeshire – general” (the spaces either side of the hyphen are important). You can then browse the subjects for that county, which appear in alphabetical order.

You can also type a surname into the ‘begins with’ box to find out whether we have any books on that surname, or an occupation, army regiment, school etc.

Advanced searches

More complicated searches can be performed using the Advanced Search option, which can be found by pointing your mouse over the 'Search' box at the top of the page and selecting 'Advanced Search' from the drop down list. Here you can combine search terms eg. If you are searching for the parish registers of a large place such as Manchester you can enter ‘Manchester’ as a subject in the first box and ‘registers’ as a subject in the second box. This will then narrow down the results from all items on Manchester to just parish registers from Manchester.

Another useful feature of Advanced Search is to allow you to enter any word that appears in a catalogue record. Eg. To see if we have any books on the Titanic, go to Advanced Search, change the Search Type from ‘Subject’ to ‘Word’ in the drop down list, and type in Titanic.

Tips on searching


• Enter the name of the parish before any church dedication eg. Enter ‘Lincoln St Mark’
• Always use ‘St’ in your search term rather than ‘Saint’.
• For place names starting South, Old, Great, Nether etc just enter the second name eg. Enter "Shoreham” rather than “Old Shoreham".
• For city of London parishes enter the word London first eg. “London St Benet Fink”.
• Don’t enter the county – the list of results that is returned will indicate which county a parish is in.


• For a surname which can also be a place or topic, put the name followed by "surname", e.g "Kent surname" or "Wills surname".
• Surnames with variant endings may have subjects with the alternative final letter in brackets. For example Smyth and Smythe both appear under subject "Smyth(e) surname". If the browse search does not find what you want, try the shortest variant, or try a power search with a wildcard ending, e.g. "Smyth*".

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Is punctuation significant?

A: Yes. A name like "O'Reilly" is not found by a search for "Oreilly". But if in doubt try looking for both or use a wildcard e.g. "O*Reilly"

Q: Is case significant?

A: No. It doesn't matter whether you use capital or small letters in searching.

Q: A browse search shows several variants of a surname. Can I combine the results?

A: Click the square on the left of each surname of interest then click the "find" box above the browse list. This gives a combined list. The "sort" box allows you to choose the order, e.g. by author or title.

Q: I did an Advanced search for "London AND directories" but got far too many hits. How can I find just the ones for the 1890s?

A: Do an Advanced search for "London AND directories AND 189*" (where * will find any year from 1890 to 1899)

Q: I did a Browse search for a place  but no places of that name were shown. Do you really have nothing on it?

A: Check that the place you are looking for is a parish, town or city. Hamlets and other small settlements are rarely listed. Look at the Genuki church database and also Genuki gazetteers page

Using Search Results

Q: I've found what I want, but what do the abbreviations mean?

A: C = Christenings, M = Marriages, B = Burials, Z = Births, D = Deaths, (I) = Index, MIs = Monumental (tombstone) Inscriptions

Q: How can I print a complete record?

A: Click on the title in a list of hits to open a separate window which displays the full record. Click on the print icon at the top right of the window. You are given options on what to print.

Q: Can I email the titles of some items?

A: Click on the "Email selected records" icon . Enter the recipient's email address. You can change the suggested subject of the email. What is sent is the information from the summary display of the record, ie Title, Author, Edition, Location, Media, Shelf Mark, Accession Number.

Q: Can I print the titles of some items?

A: Click on the "print selected records" icon . What is printed is the information from the summary display of the record, ie Title, Author, Edition, Location, Media, Shelf Mark, Accession Number.

Q: I have found what I want but how do I see it?

A: The item can be viewed in the Library during normal opening hours. Two options are available if you cannot visit the library in person: Firstly, members living in the UK may be able to borrow the item if it has been published in the last 60 years – information on library loans can be found here. Secondly, members and non-members can have short searches done for them in indexed sources in the Society's collections for a fee (see Search & Copy Service)

Q: Why does nothing happens when I click on a title?

Your internet browser is set to stop pop-ups. Make the SOGCAT web site a trusted place and configure the security/privacy setting to permit pop-ups

Library Catalogue


Find out what the Society holds in its unique library to help you with your research.

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SoG Data Online


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Index to documents


See if the Society holds any documents for the surnames you are researching.

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Index to pedigrees


See if the Society holds a pedigree for the surname you are researching

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Index to Birth Briefs


Are any other Society members researching the same surnames as you?

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