Members' Guide

We hope that we can help you with every aspect of your family history. From research tips to data sets to archiving, talks, courses and workshops, in person and online - we have it covered

This page is a guide to some of the services we offer

Our geographic scope is the Historic Royal County of Berkshire including the area in north Berkshire that became part of Oxfordshire in 1974. But when it comes to the advice and services we provide, we don't limit ourselves geographically - the principles of genealogy are universal!

What we offer

Education

Events progamme

Our programme of talks, walks, courses and workshops covers all aspects of family history and local heritage conatins public and member-only events.  It’s an ambitious and vibrant programme with as many as five events a week.  Some are free and where there is a charge it’s modest and there’s a member discount.

 

There are two threads to our programme – events organised by our central team and those run by our branches.  Twice a year the branches also come to together to run a combined event with a key speaker – which always attracts a very large audience.

 

You can find events listings on the homepage, in the ‘What’s On’ menu, and on the branch pages

 

Go to What’s on listing

Video catchup service

Some of our branch talks are recorded and made available to members in a restricted area.  These are particularly popular with our overseas members, where time differences make attending the live event impractical.  You’ll find these under Resources > Talks & Tours Videos

 

We also offer some of our paid-for courses in video format to evefryone but with a member discount.  You’ll find these under Resources > Video Hub

Branch meetings & talks

If you live in the catchment area of one of our branches, our membership secretary will add you the branch membership list so that you’re notified of branch activity local to you.  But all members are entitled to attend any branch meeting, free of charge.  You may bring guests –  we request a donation to defray costs.

 

Branch meetings include online and in-person sessions, a talk and of course the chance to ask advice and socialise with fellow family historians

Go to What’s on listing

Member Discounts

Talks, walks, courses, and workshops

Many of these are free to members and some are also exclusive to members.  Where a charge is made for an event, members are entitled to a discount.  You will find member tickets listed separately for each event – there’s no coupon code to enter in this case.

 

Go to What’s on listing

Society products

Our online shop contains over a thousand product lines and the vast majority are own products, such as County-wide and Parish record CDs, Data Downloads.  Members are entitled to a 10% discount on these products.  To claim your dicount you will need to enter a coupon code at checkout.  The code changes periodically and members can find the current code under menu item Shop

Findmypast

Members can obtain a 15% discount on any new 3- or 12-month subscription (except the Premium version that includes the 1921 census.)  You can find the discount code under Resources

News

Berkshire Family Historian

Our journal is produced quarterly in March, June, September and December.  It’s available in print format (colour covers) and online (in full colour ) and is packed with news, reviews and features.  We encourage members to submit their own articles for publication.

 

You will find the online edition under Resources

Email newsletter

InTouch contains the latest news, research tips and events listing and is delivered directly to your inbox every other Sunday morning (if you opted in when joining.)  On the alternate weekends you’ll receive a copy of our Events Newsletter – that also goes to non-members.

 

Non-members can subscribe to the Events newsletter using the tab on the right hand edge of every page, or here

Archives

YourTrees

You’ve poured years of research into you family history but how will you preserve that digital legacy for future generations?

 

Since September 2021, members have had free access to our digital archive – send us a GEDCOM file and we’ll add it to the archive.  Members can see and search all members trees (unless a member has opted for a private tree) and the data of living people can be automatically limited to initials and last names.

 

Everyone receives a certificiate of digital ownership that you can leave with your personal papers so that your family knows your wishes, and where and how to access your research

 

There’s also a data validation function to check your file for common issues with dates and places and a To-Do list you can use to improve the quality of your local copy.

 

There’s more information for everyone YourTrees under Resources > About YourTrees

 

Members will find full information on how to use and access the service here

Historian archive

The Berkshire Family Historian has been produced since 1975 and they’re available to members in our digital archive.

 

You’ll find them under Resources > The Historian

Exchange Journals

We have reciprocal journal exchange agreements with family history societies around the world, allowing members exclusive access to their in-house magazines

 

You’ll find them under Resources > Journal Exchanges

Community

You're in good company

We are the largest Berkshire-focused family history group in the county but we don’t limit ourselves to just Berkshire.  Many of our volunteers have no Berkshire relatives and can give general help and advice on all matters related to family history

Branch Meetings

We have six branches (two are virtual only) where you can get together with  fellow members.  Non-members are welcome for a modest donation,  The schedule of meetings is published in the What’s On listing.

 

If you would like to know more about our branches, you’ll find it under About > Where we are

Community Forum

Click on Community > Community (Forum) in the main menu to access the member-only forum – the perfect place to interact with other members – and with a fully searchable archive you may find that someone has posted about your question or topic earlier.

 

Subscribe to the forum categories and you’ll be notified when someone posts a new topic or reply

Find us on Facebook

Our Facebook group is called Berkshire Genealogy

 

It’s open to society members and non-members so has a broader audience than the Community Forum

We belong to the Twitterrati too!

Use @BerkshireFHS to follow us on Twitter

Research

Research aids and guides

We have:

  • Research Wizard – available from the homepage or the Help menu
  • Numerous research guides – available under Resources
    • How to get started
    • About Historic Berkshire
    • Berkipedia – the Places, Poor Law Unions, and Churches, cemeteries and burial grounds of Berkshire
    • How to research newspaper archives
    • and more..
  • Exclusive Berkshire data (members only)
  • Poll books and registers (members only)
  • Irish family history sources

 

Many of our talks, courses and workshops will also help you with your research

 

Go to What’s on listing

Heritage Research Centre

Located in central Reading – in the Central Library – you will have free access to computer workstations and:

  • Findmypast Worldwide
  • Ancestry Worldwide
  • The Genealogist
  • The British Newspaper Archive
  • Reference Library
  • Shop products

And there’s friendly help and guidance on hand – if needed – from our Research Assistants.  The Centre is open to all but we do request a donation from non-members

Online shop

Our online shop has over 1,000 products – mostly our own

  • CDs of transcribed records
  • Data Downloads of transcribed records
  • Books
  • Maps

Members are entitled to a discount on Society products the current code can be found here

Free online and in-person help sessions

Stuck?  Need some help?  Our seasoned advisers can be consulted online.  If you’re in commuting distance of Reading, you can book a face-to-face session.  Open to all

 

In either case, see What’s On to find a date and book a session. 

Free Library drop-in advice sessions

At venues across Berkshire – See What’s On for sessions and dates.  No need to book, unless the event details say otherwise.

Finding your way around

We hope you'll find the menu structure easy to navigate

There is no separate Members' Area. Instead, content is placed where it is most logical. All member-only menu items are displayed to everyone but only current members can access the linked content.

If you need assistance, please select menu item Help > Contact