01935 429609
Somerset & Dorset
Family History Society

Welcome to the SDFHS

How can we help you? We will help you to find documented facts about the lives of your former family members which will unlock doors to your own personal family story. Although we do specialise in Somerset and Dorset and have extensive records from our two counties, our experienced Research Volunteers have skills which can help you trace your family roots, regardless of where they might have originated.

SDFHS Family History Centre

Our Family History Centre in Yeovil reopened to visitors on Thursday 12 August. Initially we will only be open in the mornings (10.00am-1.00pm) Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Since the UK government is still advising caution, and we want all our volunteers and visitors to feel safe, there are some conditions for visiting the Centre. Please click on the button to find out more.

Online Talks

Online talks are being hosted by some of our local Groups, giving us the opportunity to engage with our members and the family history community worldwide.

Visit Our Shop

Are you looking for family history publications? Why not try looking in our on-line shop. We have a wide range of books and CDs relating to both Somerset and Dorset, as well as more general family-history and local-history publications.

Join us

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Two online talks by Somerset ArchivesBooking is now open for two online Coffee Time Talks ☕️18 February 2022 - From Sorcery to Supercomputers: Discover the Treasures of the Met Office Archives18 March 2022 - Behind the Scenes: Conserving the Bath and Wells Probate Administrators’ Accounts10:30-11:30, Tickets £5For more details and to book, please visit our website: swheritage.org.uk/news_tags/coffee-time-talks/(Pictured: Probate Administrators' Accounts) ... See MoreSee Less
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The 1921 Census household schedules were released today after the end of the 100 year closure rule and digitisation. Last year we displayed posters around the villages with extracts from the 1911 census and statistics which showed that the population of The Charltons civil parish (then called Charlton Mackrell but including Charlton Adam) declined from 629 in 1911 to 559 on 19th June 1921. A search of the online index today has found 560 individuals living here in 1921 (295 female and 265 male) including one female without an indexed name. 386 of those people gave their birthplace as somewhere in Somerset. There were 19 children whose father or mother (or both) had died, including some as a result of WW1, and 26 widows but only 10 widowers (and no divorcees).The household schedules were completed in handwriting, not neatly printed, and often elaborate or scrawled so mis-transcriptions in the index are not unusual. We have already spotted a significant surname error - some of the large "Dyer" family (including those who lived at Cedar Lodge) have been indexed as “Wyer”. Also be aware of potential errors in the age and calculated year of birth if you are searching with those ... although the printed schedules completed by each household state that the census was for the night of Sunday 24th April 1921, in fact it was delayed until 19th June due to industrial unrest. In an attempt to obtain more accurate ages, 1921 was the first time people had been asked to state their age in years and months, but the delay meant that ages "should" have been given as of 19th June and not the date shown on the form. So it is likely there may have been some original errors, causing misleading birth years in the transcription and index.The 1921 Census of England and Wales is now available to search and (at a cost) view on the Findmypast website after three years of conservation and digitisation work on behalf of The National Archives and the Office for National Statistics. Unfortunately the cost of downloading all the household schedules for The Charltons is prohibitive at present, but we are working to create a full listing of the indexed names and other available information. Do let us know if you have made any interesting local discoveries! ... See MoreSee Less
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#1921census tips:* when viewing the image, click on "Extra Materials" and you will be able to see (no extra cost) the cover of the census form giving the address (you can also see this by clicking the > button), maps called ‘Plans of Division’ showing the geographical coverage of the registration district, and the cover of the census enumeration district book.* when you've searched, if you hover your cursor over the record image or record transcript buttons in the results, you will be given the names of some other people in the household* using the 'download record' button only downloads the page you're viewing (you 'll probably want to save the details & address pages) but you get a better quality image if you use the button than if you right click & save the image ... See MoreSee Less
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Merry Christmas everyone! Wishing you a wonderful festive season & lots of fascinating family history discoveries in 2022! ... See MoreSee Less
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www.sdnq.org.uk/spotlight_on_sdnq/spotlight-on-sdnq-christmas-traditions/ ... See MoreSee Less
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Did you know the first Christmas Card was invented by Somerset-born Sir Henry Cole in 1843?Henry Cole was a busy man. Working in London as a civil servant, art museum director, and writer and a having a large family. In the run-up to Christmas 1843 Henry was so busy he began falling behind on his seasonal correspondence. It was customary at this time, to write friends, family and acquaintances a personal letter thanking them for their friendship through the year and wishing them a happy Christmas and luck into the new year.Having played a pivotal role in the role-out of the recent penny post, Henry came up with an idea which would promote the new black penny adhesive stamp, and make his life a lot easier. Henry asked his friend and artist John Calcott Horsely to design an image depicting his family enjoying Christmas together, he asked that the drawing also feature a moral message to recognise his passion for supporting charity. Horsely returned to Henry with a wonderful image of three generations of his family sat around the festive table, enjoying fine foods and good company. On the outer sides, he depicted images of charitable acts of feeding the poor and keeping them warm.Thrilled with the design, Henry took the image to the printers, requesting it to be transferred to card with a small space which allowed him to write the recipient’s name and a short message. He then sent these cards to his friends and family, making use of the back penny stamp he was hoping would be a success. He offered the remaining cards for sale for one shilling, however, at this point, the idea did not really take off. Some Victorians took offence to the depiction of drinking alcohol, particularly the fact a child was depicted raising a glass, this was a time when the temperance movement was very active in society, promoting teetotalism or at least moderation of the consumption of alcohol.It took a few decades for the tradition of sending Christmas cards to become a part of Christmas, the festivities we know and love now were not a part of the early Victorian Christmas. The introduction of the Christmas tree by Prince Albert along with Charles Dicken’s depiction of Christmas in A Christmas Carol made celebrating the season a more commercial and elaborate celebration.Around 1,000 of these cards were printed by Henry Cole, it is believed that only 30 now exist. Christie's auction house in London is currently selling an original card and expects to reach between £5,000 - £8,000.You can read more about the achievements of local man born Sir Henry Cole on my blog amgouldsomersetauthor.com/the-first-christmas-card/For more information on the progression of the Christmas card through the Victorian period here - www.vam.ac.uk/articles/the-first-christmas-card#victorianera #Christmas #bathcity #christmascards #Christmascards2020 #christmastraditions ... See MoreSee Less
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This week's new biography on the website is for Caroline Pole, 1848 to 1856. She was born about the time her parents were fleeing from France, as a Revolution had broken out. Her father James was a railway labourer, and had presumably helped built the 'English Bridge' at Rouen (pictured below, although with iron rather than the original wooden arches). Caroline then grew up in Halswell Lane off of West Street, and died after accidentally being burnt. She would have been the aunt of David Pole 1892-1917, who was killed at the Battle of Cambrai during the First World War. ... See MoreSee Less
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Recent Twitter

We don't know much about this fella: painted beard, potentially Tudor...made of stone...and not much else.
He's feeling a little unloved, so we want you to give him a name...👇


The Winter of 1962/63 was said to have seen the worst #Snowfall and blizzards in a century. In #Somerset cars were abandoned, schools closed, villages completely cut off and helicopters and the marines were called in to help. Read more here-


Today is Plough Monday the traditional start of the English agricultural year. Taken on Plough Monday 1939, the Iwerne Minster Folk Dancers perform the Dance of the Plough at Dorchester #ExploreYourArchive #PloughMonday #Folklore #Dorchester #History #Heritage #Dorset.

Useful list of codes used in the #1921Census - schedule type codes | http://findmypast.com https://www.findmypast.com/articles/world-records/1921-census---schedule-type-codes