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.
RootsTech Clocks Up 20,000
Audiences of as many as 20,000 at a time gathered at Salt Lake City for RootsTech 2015, which took place 12th-14th February. Surely, the largest family history event so far!
With a theme of 'Celebrating Families across the Generations', RootsTech is continuing to capture the attention of family historians across the world, as many of the presentations have been recorded and can be seen online.
We have updated our roll call of websites that can help your research – and do not charge for the privilege.
The 31 key sites are arranged in these categories:
Portals that list large numbers of other relevant sites or point to information drawn from them
Sites about books and maps
Individual sites likely to be particularly useful if you want to research ancestry in the British Isles
As well as a link to the site, each entry includes a summary of what it has to offer family historians.
Some of the selection may be familiar to you. Others are less well-known but still packed with useful information. They may offer unexpected opportunities to discover information and share our stories.
Moving Beyond Certificates
An expensive aspect of family history is the cost of buying birth, marriage and death certificates. Those for England & Wales from July 1837 onwards cost £9.25 each from the General Register Office. The full details that appear on a certificate are not available from the Government in any other way.
Fortunately, that restriction is now likely to change. The Government has accepted an amendment to the Deregulation Bill that is currently going through the House of Lords to allow information shown on birth, marriage and death certificates to be made available in other ways. If all goes to plan:
There will be a consultation period about the relevant issues.
Then, detailed changes will be made about how we can access these records, the formats available and the charges.
Reform will not happen overnight, but we are moving much closer to having this valuable historical information available online, almost certainly at much lower prices than we have to pay at present.
Many thanks to Baroness Scott of Needham Market (pictured) who has worked for some years to promote this vast improvement.
Over 50 family historians battled through the snow to Peterborough in order to attend the Federation’s recent seminar for editors.
It was well worth the effort. Subjects covered included the opportunities presented by social media and various ways to improve and promote journals and newsletters published by our societies. Both during the formal sessions and at the lunch break, many of us exchanged experience and ideas. We had particularly lively discussion about the emerging role of electronic editions of journals as alternatives (but not substitutes) to the traditional printed and posted format.
This interactive and problem-solving event was organised by Steve Manning, our Education Officer. He promised that it is only the first of series of seminars on a variety of topics that the Federation plans to offer during the year ahead.
Participants completed an evaluation questionnaire, with 95% reporting the day as a good experience. If anything, the structured programme was too full, so we intend to allow more time for informal networking next time.
Thank you to all concerned for enabling the Federation and members from so many societies to work together in this way. We look forward to future events in the series.
Modern wills online – Watch out for Pitfalls!
The Probate Service has closed the London office where members of the public used to find and order wills proved from 1858 onwards.
If you want to find a will that was proved from 1858 to the present day you now have to search online. This facility was already in place for recent wills and is now extended back to 1858. It also includes the records of some soldiers who died on active military service between 1860 and 1982.
Searching for, ordering and receiving copies of wills all take place whenever you like through your own computer. Payments (which are £10 per copy) are by credit or debit card. Visit the site and select “Start now”
The new system is not perfect. Points to watch out for are:
There are three tabs. Be sure to choose the right one for the period and type of will you are looking for; it will not tell you if you click on the wrong one but just say there are no records when you choose an invalid year (even if there are relevant records for the year using the correct tab).
The tab headed “Wills and Probate 1858-1996” does not include those for 1996.
The year in the index is the year of probate, not of death (as mistakenly stated on the website).