We help both members and non-members to become better family historians. We help members by providing access to a wealth of online information and our Member Forum enables members to share their knowledge and experience. We have specialist knowledge of resources for the Greater Manchester area but do our best to provide support wherever a member's research takes them.
We bring people together with regular meetings at each of our three main venues at Manchester, Oldham and Bolton, at our main helpdesk at Manchester Central Library, at various events organised by the society and the branches and at events operated by our partners and supported by us. Wherever possible we try to provide a time before and after meetings when we can talk to each other and look for and welcome visitors. Membership of the society includes one other person from your household or family, and monthly and quarterly meetings are often where members attend together and 'make a day of it'.
A large proportion of our members are not local to Manchester or Lancashire, many live in other parts of the United Kingdom and we also have many members who live overseas. They all have one thing in common - somewhere along the line they have ancestors from this part of the world.
How do we bring these far-flung and equally valuable members together? We have an e-forum where any member can ask a question and other members, many with considerable experience as well as local knowledge, will try their best to provide answers; it is often the combined efforts of a few members who, between them, tease out the detail and come up with an answer. Any member can help others on the forum and, because our membership is worldwide, members of the forum have often answered questions about relatives in Australia and other countries, and helped to find information about servicemen and women wherever they lived or served.
"It is a few years since I joined MLFHS and I consider it the best value I have ever had in any membership - particularly the magazine which comes to me all the way across the ocean for such modest cost. And now all the wonderful people on the Forum have compounded that value a thousand-fold. Thank you so much."
RB, July 2020
Our quarterly magazine, The Manchester Genealogist, has also been keeping people in touch since ......... and is sent to all members. The magazine has the latest society news, reviews of meetings held at the Manchester Central Library, updates of projects and volunteering, a section for family history research - for which new material is always welcome - and sections for each of the branches. With such a wide membership, the articles offer plenty of variety and are full of interest.
Manchester, Oldham, Bolton and the Anglo-Scottish also produce their own, very individual, email newsletters to help people keep in touch. Together with our new website, the newsletters will carry important information about any events - like current coronavirus pandemic - which forces us to change or cancel meetings - or changes that allow us to hold more events, as well as carrying a round-up of news and articles that will interest their readers.
What makes it worthwhile to volunteer with the Society? Every volunteer would probably give a different answer, whether it's the satisfaction of finding, saving and transcribing a new dataset or being part of the administrative side of the society (and it does take a lot of organisation), a lot of people work together at physical locations and many more work together in teams of transcribers, working from their homes. Is it being a part of something that furthers your own enjoyment of family history and has the satisfaction of helping others at the same time?
Many people enjoy the one-to-one relationship of helping another family or local historian to get started on a particular search or to look for ways of breaking through those notorious brick walls. Applying to become part of the helpdesk team is ideal for anyone who can make a regular commitment to a certain time and day, and cover is always needed to cover holidays - we live in hope that our normal helpdesk activities will resume before too long. Branches also have helpdesks and workshops and may need more volunteers. Any member of the society can join the forum and try their hand at answering questions posed by other members. There are also, usually, opportunities to help at fairs and events.
Not every helpful resource is available on public or commercial web sites. Throughout our history we have transcribed and indexed local records and made these available to our members. A good example is our database of over 600,000 names which appear on more than 160,000 graveyard memorials (many now long since disappeared) in and around Manchester. We have indexed admission records for important institutions including the Prestwich Asylum, Henshaw's Asylum for the Blind and The Royal Manchester Institution for the Deaf and Dumb.
If you delight in the thought of handling real or scanned historical records and enjoy the challenge of old and faded handwriting, have the patience of a saint and can find your way around a computer, the society might have just the job for you! The society actively seeks out records to preserve and transcribe and volunteers are always wanted.
These records are just highlights of over 200 data sets which can be found in our members only area - and the work goes on! There are always projects in progress and more data for members as a result.
Everything, from chairing meetings to moving chairs, needs helping hands from volunteers. Volunteers manage the society and all its constituent parts, someone, somewhere, manages meetings, rotas, stock, articles for newsletters and magazines, the website, the office administration, projects and much more. There will always be scope for volunteers to grow into certain roles - it often happens that a volunteer just wants to get involved and, after a while, finds their own niche, something that the society needs and that they enjoy. If you want to volunteer, but are not sure how best to help, get in touch with us!
Your membership gives you access to 2.7 million records, free admission to all meetings of the society at all of its venues (some special events might incur small costs), help and advice from the helpdesks and the forum, and regular newsletters and quarterly magazine. Just by being part of the society, your subscription enables us to find, acquire, preserve and transcribe historical records from the Manchester and Lancashire area.
Records are never just the names of people, they tell us something more about their lives and the times in which they lived. Through our partnership with Archives+ at the Manchester Central Library we can give these records a safe home and, through this website, our members are able to search those records. Some records, most notably the index to the Catholic church records, are also available to non-members. Just by being a member you help to make this possible, you can research your own family history, help to create more records for the future and someone will find out, at last, a little more about their own history. This is how our members get involved – just by being members.
We actively look for records that are in danger of being lost forever, with a view to saving and transcribing them and making them available line. Our project page lists the work that is currently being done by our volunteers. Some of these archives contain thousands of records, some are much smaller, but all of them hold the names of people who lived in our area and inform us about their lives. If you know of a resource or an archive that might need a home - the records of a long-established business or family papers found in an attic perhaps - contact us and tell us about your collection.
Your research is important. Most of us have spent some considerable time trying to find elusive ancestors or discover how and where they made and lost fortunes, entered and left a workhouse or left these shores and returned ten years later. Whatever the story, your research becomes valuable in its own right. If you have a story to tell, the editor of our quarterly magazine, The Manchester Genealogist, would like to hear from you. Sometimes it is just one aspect of your research, a small detail gleaned laboriously from searching online records, trawling through archives or by having a chance conversation which unlocks the story. MLFHS volunteers have indexed every copy of The Manchester Genealogist and made it into a valuable research dataset, of which your submitted work would be a part to help other family historians, but you also have your own copy of the magazine, with your work it, to add to your bookshelf.
Everything we do is done by volunteers. If you live in the Manchester area, there are frequently opportunities to assist in our office at Manchester Central Library or with running our meetings. If you have a good knowledge of family history then there may be a place for you as part of our Helpdesk team. But, even if you live some distance away, perhaps even on another continent, there is a regular need for home workers to transcribe and index records. In an increasingly online world, there may be more activities which do not require a physical presence, so there is probably something you can do for the society.