Federation Of Family History Societies

Welcome to the FFHS website

The Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS) is an educational charity. We support, inform and advise our membership, which consists of family history societies and similar bodies across the world.

To achieve our mission, we:

  • co-ordinate and assist the work of organisations interested in family history, genealogy and heraldry
  • foster co-operation and projects that help researchers
  • represent the interests of family historians, especially in the preservation and availability of archives

You can read more about our activities on our "What We Do" page.

New Essex Website

FamilySearch screenshot

Readers with Essex interests can now enjoy the bright and easily navigable new website for Essex Record Office.

Packed with information for visitors and researchers, this fresh arrival online sets out the services available, both at the Record Office at Chelmsford and across the World online. You can also see details of the range of services tailored for those in education - from primary school all the way through to university. It is clear from the enthusiastic comments received from students who have visited the archives that their contents are not just for older people.

Further information appears about the Essex Record Office Conference Centre, which has recently had three new rooms added to its suite of hireable spaces.

The launch fulfills several months of work, but it is not the end of the road. Work is continuing on further development of the site, alongside a project to improve the look and feel of the Record Office's online catalogue, Seax.

Gloucester Heritage Hub

A major project is well on track to provide greatly improved facilities at the Gloucestershire Archives premises in the centre of Gloucester. The proposals involve new reception and research areas, a meeting room, training room and workspace for the volunteers who work on some of the material deposited there. The enhanced facilities at "The Heritage Hub" will greatly help family historians and others in gathering, keeping and sharing historic documents, whether they come in traditional or digital formats.

Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral from the river

The Heritage Hub will provide a common home for a range of local organisations and their records. As well as Gloucestershire Archives itself, the organisations that are supporting the project include:

Friends of Gloucestershire Archives is leading on fundraising, which has already gathered the vast majority of the £2.8 million required to complete the project.

1939 Register Online

1939 street view

A major opportunity has arrived to find out more about your family in the early part of the 20th century. The most recent census that we are allowed to consult is the one taken in 1911; this is now joined by the 1939 Register.

In September 1939, just after the start of the Secord World War, the Government compiled a  register of the population of England and Wales. This was needed to issue identity cards and ration books, coordinate conscription and plan evacuations. 41 million people were listed by household, with details that include name, address, date of birth, marital status and occupation.

The original documents have been digitised and indexed. They are available online at the FindMyPast website, which features a number of articles explaining the records available and how to make best use of them. You can search the index free of charge. Access to images of the original household returns, which contain more details than appear in the index, is on a "pay-per-view" basis. If you visit The National Archives in person, you can access these images too without having to pay.

To protect the privacy of people who are still living (or who may be still living), at present the details of only about 28 million individuals can be seen. Despite this, the project is a major boon to family historians. It will become increasingly useful as additional people are added to those whose details we can view.

New Life For Old Wills

wills before restoration

Wills are some of the most fruitful sources of information about people from past generations. As well as revealing family relationships, friendships and possessions, they provide a rich collection of signatures and marks of the individuals involved, including the witnesses.

Unfortunately, many of the earliest surviving wills are in a poor physical state. As well as the ravages of time, previous attempts to repair and rebind documents have sometimes introduced material that does no good to the pages they aimed to protect.

wills after restoration

Fortunately, modern conservation can reverse much of the damage and mistakes of the past and ensure that these unique sources can be consulted for generations to come. An illustrated blog shows how Alison Faden of Northamptonshire Record Office has conserved 28 volumes of early wills kept there, so that they provide clearer and more long-lasting insights into individuals and society of the 16th and 17th centuries. The pictures that you can see on this page are vivid examples of the difference that modern conservation can make to the condition and legibility of these key resources for discovering more about life and death in the past.

© 2007-15 The Federation of Family History Societies. All rights reserved

Registered Charity No. 1038721    Company No. 2930189 (England)

Page updated by the webmaster on 12 November 2015

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