Society of Genealogists

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Update 24 June 2021. Society of Genealogists will close 17 July 2021 for "a few months" prior to moving to new premises. December 2022 SoG News advises a new home at Unit 2, 40 Wharf Road, London, N1 7GS which is estimated to reopen in the Summer of 2023. July 2023 SoG News advises some staff are working from the new library and the new library will open to the public later in the year.

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. Includes SoG Data online available to members. However non-members can browse the categories of the databases on the left hand side of the webpage to see the databases available.

British India related and other overseas 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, available from August 2017, and are believed to include some microfilms of original church registers in India. [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 online 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 Library contains many monumental inscriptions, or has references to series of monumental inscriptions which appeared in publications such as Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica and Notes and Queries. There was a Society of Genealogists publication which referred to these series: Monumental inscriptions in the Library of the Society of Genealogists Part 2, Northern England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Overseas edited by Lydia Collins and Mabel Morton 1987, which is now available online, see below (Part 1 Southern England, 1984). Note this book is in the form of a catalogue, and does not contain actual inscriptions. "They include inscriptions from a group of African countries (Basutoland, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Nyasaland, Sierra Leone and Uganda) collected under a scheme organised by Philip Blake and Anthony Camp for the Society in the 1960s."[2] In the catalogue (at 2019/10) under Uganda there is a reference to a publication African monumental inscriptions by Anthony J Camp, (comp.) and Lydia Collins, (comp.). Published London : Society of Genealogists, 1982. This book however appears likely to be an internal SoG document, or a booklet/pamphlet not a "published" book, and the information is probably included in the later 1987 publication mentioned above. Search the online catalogue for current information. For Africa, there is a catalogue heading "Africa - Monumental Inscriptions" which contains a details of a number of records, but there could be additional entries also. Also look under the catalogue headings for individual countries.
  • The Genealogists Magazine: Indexes Volume 1 April 1925 to Volume 25, 1996. Now an archived webpage.
Research by Major V C P Hodson was published in the Genealogists' Magazine between March 1932 and December 1933 under the title, "Some Families with a Long East Indian Connection", briefly described in the just mentioned indexes as "Fam., Eng. and E. Indies" 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". Digitised copies of the Genealogists' Magazine are available to SoG members as one of the SoG online databases.
  • 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). Note many issues of BPP are now available online, see the Fibiwik page Bengal, Past and Present, Journal of the Calcutta Historical Society.
  • 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. [3]
  • Some transcriptions from SoG records appear in the findmypast database British Armed Forces and Overseas Banns and Marriages (under "Browse Source" select Cliff Webb Collection), including Japan Embassy Marriages (1867-1899), Tobago marriages (1788-1816), India Calcutta marriages from 1713.[4]. The Calcutta records are very limited in information, but some of the other records appear to contain more.
  • Some SoG record series have been digitised and are available to SoG members, see SoG Data online. However non-members can browse the categories of the databases on the left hand side of the webpage to see what is available. Scroll down to Overseas records, which includes the sub categories India, India monumental inscriptions, South Africa and West Indies.

Other records of interest to the British India Family Historian

These include…

  • 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.

Historical books online

Some of the references are in respect of editions of Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica and Notes and Queries, many of which are now available online, so it may be possible to find specific record series online, which have been mentioned in the Overseas chapter of the previous book.
Search in Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica editions
Search in Notes and Queries 1849-2014 collection This collection is a series of digitised microfilmed weekly editions. If you have a reference, select the required year from the filters on the left hand side of the webpage. In addition, there may be other editions which can be found by a general search for this title. It is possible to Search text contents for the whole collection.


  1. SOG update 7 July 2017
  2. British Births, Marriages and Deaths Overseas, section Monumental Inscriptions FamilySearch Wiki, based on three articles in Family Tree Magazine (UK) (vol. 16, no. 9-10-12, July-Aug-Oct 2000) by Anthony Camp who was Director of Research, and later Director of the Society of Genealogists for many years. The original articles are available at
  3. page 35 Ancestors Magazine 57
  4. W., Hugh Genealoge September 06, 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2019.