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.
Fairs and Open Days
Family historians across the country will shortly be able to take part in major events that offer splendid opportunities to follow their interests and meet fellow enthusiasts.
Local family history societies have organised fairs and/or open days at five venues in September to meet the needs of veteran researchers and newcomers alike. If you have a friend or relation who might be interested in setting off on the ancestor trail, this is an excellent opportunity to introduce your local society and what it has to offer.
You can find more details about each event by following the relevant link:
- Girton, Cambridgeshire - 5 September (Cambridgeshire FHS)
- York - 12 September (City of York & District FHS)
- Southport - 12 September (North Meols FHS)
- Carmarthen - 19 September (Dyfed FHS)
- Doncaster - 26 September (Doncaster & District HS)
Each venue is within striking distance of a variety of other places of interest, for example York Minster (pictured).
The FamilySearch website offers a wide range of services to family historians free of charge. It offers opportunities to search scanned, transcribed and/or indexed records harvested from across the world. Over a billion names appear in its searchable databases. You can also delve into the growing collection of over 82,000 articles in its Research Wiki section.
A dynamic feature of the site is FamilySearch Family Tree, where you can enrol to add details of ancestors and family members. Unlike the sites that accept contributions without quality control, FamilySearch prompts contributors to cite sources for their input and consider whether the person, relationship or an event they plan to submit already appears in the collection. These safeguards go a long way towards weeding out duplicated records and correcting mistakes.
To help people work together in growing and improving their family trees, a new user-to-user messaging system has been launched. This enables researchers to collaborate about changes, updates and additions without needing to switch to email. More details about FamilySearch Messaging are only a click away.
600,000 War Graves records online
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has added the records of almost 600,000 Second World War casualties to those already freely available on its website.
The digitised records cover British, Irish and Commonwealth casualties, together with records for many other nationals. You can find details of personal headstone inscriptions, date of death, rank, regiment and even some documents which show the journey of the deceased to their final resting place.
Great Plague details revealed
The Great Plague devastated London in 1665 and is one of the best-known events in the history of the 17th century. The official death toll there was 68,596 but, due to under-recording, the true total may have been closer to 100,000, amounting to some 15% of its population.
Recent excavations for the Crossrail project are shedding fresh light on the impact of this tragedy. Contrary to accounts often found in popular histories, it is now clear that many plague victims were provided with "decent Christian burial", including coffins and a traditional east-west orientation, even though the numbers involved were enormous.
Statistics about the number of deaths were collected and still survive for many parishes in and around the City of London. Those relating to deaths from the plague in 1665 have been plotted on an interactive map which shows how each small area was affected on a week-by-week basis. It also gives a fascinating overview of the complicated jigsaw of parishes existing in London at that time. It is a good example of how 21st-century technology can present historical information clearly.
Until 11 September, the Guildhall Library is hosting an exhibition "London’s Dreadful Visitation: The Great Plague, 1665", which takes visitors through a range of plague-related material. Well worth a visit if you are near the City of London during that time. The exhibition is open during normal visiting hours, except for when afternoon talks take place.
Wherever you are, The National Archive's classroom resources on the subject are available to demonstrate how original documents both supply information and help to fathom the context that lies behind them.
Staffordshire Registers Online
A large amount of extra information from the registers of numerous parishes in Staffordshire has recently been launched on the FindMyPast website.
Scanned and indexed images of pages from a variety of parish registers have been added to the existing online collection for the county. The fresh data covers the following events:
- Baptisms - 483,000
- Marriages - 267,000
- Banns - 185,000
- Burials - 284,000
Many records from other parishes in the area were already in the database, so the total number of entries to be found in the relevant indexes for Staffordshire now add up to more than 4 million. The earliest records included date back to 1538 and the most recent events took place in 1900, but details are not available from all parishes for the whole of that timespan.
Staffordshire is an inland county with borders touching five other counties, so this collection will be of help to researchers whose main focus so far is elsewhere, if their family prove to have migrated into or out of Staffordshire itself.