I live in a town with a Family History Society and an Historical Society.

The Family History Society aims include:

  • conduct meetings
  • organise guest speakers
  • purchase of research resources for use in the Regional History Room
  • assisting people with family history research.

The Historical Society aims include:

  • research and preserve the history of the district
  • to assist people researching local history
  • to assist people researching family history.

What advantages/disadvantages are there in joining such societies?

What attributes should I look for to decide the more appropriate one?

My family tree background is Australian on both sides, English 2 generations back on my mother's side and Scottish 3 generations ago on my father's side. There is no currently no known link to any local individuals, dead or alive.

  • Hi Big Kid, to get you the best answers, what can you tell us about your location, family background, and other details that would help tailor the results to your unique situation? This might be a little too broad. Hope this helps! :)
    – jmort253
    Commented Jan 8, 2013 at 6:44
  • 1
    Your question title says "Family History Society", the body of the question says "Historical Society" and the tag attached is "genealogical societies". Are these differences significant?
    – Fortiter
    Commented Jan 8, 2013 at 9:56
  • 3
    There's some relevant advice at: genealogy.stackexchange.com/q/300/104
    – user104
    Commented Jan 8, 2013 at 12:47
  • 1
    Re your comment, purchase of research resources for use in the Regional History Room. Is this History Room related to Regional as appears or is it a History room with resources like microfiche, internet to research afar, for Regional resident use, like found in some libraries?
    – Henry
    Commented Jan 8, 2013 at 21:39
  • @Henry The Regional History Room has quite a lot of regional information, historical rates, applications etc. They do also have a significant microfiche for NSW. It is located within the local library building and staffed by a library person. Commented Jan 8, 2013 at 22:25

3 Answers 3


One obvious advantage is the connection to local history, local people, and local records.

Collaborating with others who may in other counties, states, or even countries, may not always help. Having people with local knowledge can help create a picture of where your ancestors lived, or of their work, or on the likelihood of them changing either of those. It can also help you make contact with relatives. Depending on the society, it may also have connections with local archives and libraries. Although you may no longer live in your birth town, other members may still do, and they may be amenable to check something for you on their next visit to a local repository.

While production of local transcriptions is a great resource, and the availability of talks and lectures can be educational, the opportunity to interact with fellow members is a huge bonus. This could be through forums, email, or even instant messaging. Not all societies accommodate this though which is why I also subscribe to various mailing lists for my birth town and related surnames.


This is a very general answer but it may help. Five years ago I moved to a new state where I have no genealogical interests and debated joining the local society. This past year I joined and realized that although I have little to offer about this area I have learned a lot just by being involved again. It keeps me in the game so to speak and has connected me to resources and people that I otherwise would have lost out on. So from a networking, staying connected perspective I say join whatever is in your area and don't think twice about it. It will be worth it on some level.


I have gained enormously from joining several family history societies in the various areas of the UK that I am interested in. The price is reasonable and the quarterly magazines good for improving local knowledge and contacting helpful members. If buying material published by the society, members usually get a small discount.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.