Society of Genealogists

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The Society of Genealogists (SOG) in London has information largely relating to family history in England, including its publication, the Genealogists' Magazine. However, the Society also contains an impressive selection of material in its libraries relating to British India.

British India Related records

These include:

  • A large collection of FamilySearch microfilms, previously to be found in the London Family History Centre (part of FamilySearch), were transferred to the Society of Genealogists' collection in June 2017, and are believed to include some microfilms of original church registers in India. Microfilms are expected to be available in August 2017.[1]
  • The card index of Lt Col H K Percy Smith (1897-1975) contains records drawn from diverse sources - e.g army records, baptismal, marriage and burial records, newspaper cuttings and a sample of documents presented when British subjects from India applied for right of stay in the UK after 1948. Microfilms of these cards are in the Lower Library in the overseas filing cabinets. These comprise about 40 reels arranged alphabetically. Some of the baptism, marriage and burial information has been typed into lists by Lt Col Bullock (and others) and are on the open shelves in the Upper Library. At least some of these cards are now available online through the pay site findmypast, but they are probably only a selection.
Note that there are further Percy Smith card indexes/papers at the National Army Museum, the National Maritime Museum's records in respect of the Bengal Pilot Service and in the BACSA archive at the British Library. The BACSA card indexes have been transcribed and now appear in the FIBIS database.
  • Some church records are available and these include some records not found in the N series at the British Library. Overseas: Church records of India at SOG (click on India or scroll down) is now an archived page, but indicates what was available in March 2013. Search the catalogue for current information. This link also includes other overseas countries/areas such as the West Indies (For the latter, click at the top of the SoG page in the menu for a November 2012 archived link).
  • The Upper Library also houses a great many books, directories and lists relating to British India. Particularly useful is the open access to the volumes of Bengal Past and Present (although, regrettably, these do not appear to be a complete run).
  • Boxes of Anglo Indian research correspondence relating to the period directly after independence from persons born in India, seeking to prove their nationality under the 1948 British Nationality Act. For relevant family names see Fibis journals no 2, 3 & 4. Note however, a name index attached to the SoG papers supersedes that published by FIBIS. [2]

Other records of interest to the British India Family Historian

These include…

  • GRO indexes relating to army returns and consular records of baptism, marriage and burials covering a period from 1761. Also includes indexes showing births and deaths at sea (1839-1965) and similar other overseas events. To browse what is covered enter GRO in SOG Catalogue
  • Microfilms of WO97 British Army attestation and discharge papers, which relate to soldier’s discharged to pension, are located in the Lower Library. These microfilms duplicate information found at The National Archives and cover years 1760-1854.
  • Books relating to British Army – including Annual Army Lists and regimental histories.
  • Material relating to the British Navy .
  • Computers in the Open Access Area provide free access to selected subscription websites including Ancestry, Origins and Find My Past and also TNA Documents Online. (This Area is open to all without charge).

For details of membership, costs for individual research sessions and opening times, please refer to the SOG website.

External Links

  • An excellent article detailing the India holdings at the Society appeared in the May 2007 issue of Ancestors Magazine, the magazine of The National Archives. This was a special India issue and it can be read in full at Ancestors Magazine 57. The relevant article is on page 33 and is accompanied by pictorial examples of the information found in the Percy Smith collection.
  • "On the Hodson Lists for Families of British India" (from the website Merchant Networks) describes research by Major V C P Hodson published in the Genealogists' Magazine between March 1932 and December 1933 under the title, "Some Families with a Long East Indian Connection". Other articles of relevance in the Genealogists' Magazine include Volume 7:01, March 1935, "Indian Inscriptions, Lists and Locations" and Volume 9:02, June 1940, "British Monuments, Bencoolen Sumatra and Bihar India".


  1. SOG update 7 July 2017
  2. page 35 Ancestors Magazine 57