Tapping into Family History Societies

“Tapping into Family History Societies,” Ensign, Sept. 2003, 72–73

Tapping into Family History Societies

Family history societies can be a good resource in searching family lines and finding names for temple work. My father had moved from his family home in Norfolk County, England, located some 350 miles from where I live, and I had no access to Norfolk County records. So I decided to join the Norfolk and Norwich Family History Society.

Many such societies in the British Isles and other countries work to promote family history research. Most are open to anyone. Check your phone book, library, or the Internet to see if the area in which you are interested has one. Some may have information about the geographical spread of a name or clues about where to try next.

Through these societies I have found people who live in certain areas that interest me. Because places sometimes change their names over time or are known locally by another name, a local contact can provide valuable help. I was able to confirm that a name I had found was indeed my ancestor when a local resident told me that the given place of birth, Gatesend, was just another name for the village of Tattersett, where my family had lived for generations.

Through a family history society I also found a woman who lived in Norfolk who was willing to do the research I needed done there. She had relatives from the south, so I did her family research in London while she did mine in Norfolk. It was a wonderful reciprocal arrangement.

Many family history societies keep their own libraries that often contain materials unavailable elsewhere, such as indexes to census records, transcripts of parish records (valuable if you have trouble reading old handwriting), donated material about numerous families, copies of monument inscriptions, and unpublished material on local and family histories. Some of these societies produce magazines, give lectures, and provide a good forum for the sharing of ideas about family history research.

When my grandmother warned me that her family came from a small village that had another family sharing the same surname, I was faced with a tangle of family lines. I had no success sorting it out until a gentleman from Australia, contacted through a family history society, was able to provide me with photocopies of extracts from microfilms in his possession. Since then I have been able to put together an extensive family tree and have even found a living cousin.

Rosalie West, Truro Branch, Plymouth England Stake