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. Please click on the button to find out more information about the Centre.

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

on Social Media

Recent Facebook

This looks an interesting talk on nonconformist chapels in SomersetDAVID DAWSON will give a webinar lecture on Thursday 8th September 2022 at 7.30pm. He will talk about what the Nonconformist chapels tell us about the social history of the county of Somerset.To register in advance for this Webinar, either email SANHS at:[email protected]Or to register directly, go to:us06web.zoom.us/.../reg.../WN_D_tgo5cKQIuwlpcDzmShsAAfter registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar and reminder emails nearer the event ... See MoreSee Less
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This stereoscopic photograph was taken by James Date from a location that no longer exists. It is the Mineral Line Quay that was attached to the West pier and extended into the inner harbour. The engine only brought the ore as far as the station (opposite the Spice Merchant) and it was then pulled by rail across the road by ponies to the wharf and loaded into the waiting ships. It is interesting to note the horse and cart on the beach near the London Inn. The double glass plate necessary for such a 3D image will with others form part of the forthcoming exhibition.The JAMES DATE EXHIBITION, planned for this coming October, is long overdue as it can be argued that Date is the most significant figure from 19th century Watchet. He first started experimenting with photography in the 1850s, when it was still in its infancy. By 1860 he had established himself as a professional photographer with a custom-built studio at his home at Myrtle Cottage in Swain Street.The period between 1860 -1877 when Date was most active witnessed Watchet undergo a remarkable transformation with an expansion of its mercantile trade, industrial development and building that a few years earlier could not have been imagined. Date was on hand with his camera to record these changes as they happened.Date has the eye of an artist in his compositions and he is not just recording an event but is adding a narrative to his compositions. He regularly introduces what we must imagine are friends or relatives to add interest or scale to his very carefully considered photographs. As he progressed as a photographer, there is little doubt that he developed his own style in much the same way as an artist does.The James Date Collection, held in trust by the Conservation Society, is extensive and contains many unseen images and a surprisingly large number of studies of our cliffs. It is apparent that he was very interested in geology as he took a good number of studies on our beaches. He mentions this passion in a book that he published in 1867, ‘Handbook to Watchet’, which is without doubt the town’s earliest guidebook.This remarkable photographer saw and photographed the first train to arrive in the town from Taunton and twelve years later, the first train to leave the station to Minehead. He recorded the building of the East Quay, the erection of the iconic Lighthouse, the footbridge we are so familiar with that crosses the railway line. He was on hand to record developments at the paper mill, in particular the chimney that stood high on the hill. He created an enduring image of the first gas light on the Esplanade, the building of the lifeboat house, the impressive Methodist Church and more. His pictures are alive with incidental detail that he was so fond of and his photographs are not just the recording of events, they are much, much more. He is a visual storyteller with an ability to transport us through time to another age. ... See MoreSee Less
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We've added a new biography of Emily Skinner 1838-1869 nee Davis, who was born in Taunton and married Thomas Lowday Skinner, a carpenter, in 1867. Terribly, Emily gave birth in 1869, although the baby survived, Emily died of infection a week later. This was an all-to-common occurrence in the nineteenth century. Emily has a very unusual memorial, a three-sided obelisk, which we're hoping to repair this year. It's unlike any other memorial in the cemetery, so we wonder if Thomas had some of his building workmates knock it together for him. Research kindly supplied by Clare Spicer, Hilary Southall and Jill Trethewey ... See MoreSee Less
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Timeline photosWhat were your ancestors up to in 1921? Who lived in your house 100 years ago?Find out with 50% off all 1921 Census purchases at Findmypast. But hurry: this limited-time offer only lasts 24 hours, ending at 12pm midday UK time on Friday 1 July 2022.Where will your past take you?Perhaps it's time to find out.bit.ly/3pYVJAh ... See MoreSee Less
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Recent Twitter

#TWitN the hunt is on for a speckled stocking man in #Frome there's a stitch-up in #CastleCary, girls are fined for sitting on the grass in #Crewkerne there's a carnival in #Yeovil, a jam thief in #Taunton and a tapestry from #Dunster goes under the hammer https://amgouldsomersetauthor.com/this-week-in-the-news-77

Restored Elizabethan kitchen opens in Athelhampton, Dorset https://bbc.in/3NMZWQd?fbclid=IwAR0LF8osJdBerSfuVW89hlJHMR7R46Esy_Fb0dDAo4RRpPdHc5YnuEjpKAw

South West Heritage Trust has organised some fascinating walking tours of #Taunton https://swheritage.org.uk/news_tags/town-tours/?dm_i=5KNS,K45B,4FCCH,2GPJ6,1