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About the Society

Shetland Family History Society offers members help and advice as they research their ancestry and genealogy. Studying your family history and genealogy is a fulfilling project, one that the committee members love to be a part of. It is a hobby that takes time and good diligence, allowing people with a similar interest in studying family history in Shetland to come together.

The Shetland Family History Society was started in 1991 through demand from interested researchers, both locally and overseas. 

The Society has created a focus for the wide Shetland Diaspora, as well as local researchers, wishing to carry out in-depth genealogical research into their roots.  Presently, around 80 per cent of the current membership live out-with the Isles.

The society provides a band of dedicated volunteer researchers who can help with the ever-increasing volume of queries. To assist that task the creation of a database of Shetland families has helped enormously in searching for that elusive ancestor. This is also regularly used as a tool to put people in touch with any living relative, very often our volunteer researchers are on the telephone to arrange meetings and put people in touch. (Please note: The Society is acutely aware of data protection so our database is not online and is only available at our premises at Shetland Amenity Trust, Garthspool, Lerwick).

Over the years there have been quite a few milestones in the history of the Society with group visits to other societies, other areas and Family History Fairs such as Aberdeen, Inverness, Edinburgh, South Shields and Gateshead as well as taking a stand at “Who Do You Think You Are Live” at Olympia, London.

As part of the 2000 millennium Hamefarin (homecoming) the Society hosted a three-day conference. Titled “Tracing Sons and Daughters of Shetland”, it included lectures, workshops, walks and visits.  This was so successful that in 2004 “Dellin’ Shetland Roots” – another more ambitious conference week was arranged, with over one hundred delegates arriving from all those far-flung corners of the globe where Shetlanders settled.

The Society celebrated its 20th anniversary in September 2011 with a reception in the Shetland Museum. County archivist Brian Smith, who delivered the very first lecture to the Society and Museum Curator Dr. Ian Tait, who had often enlightened and delighted members with his artefacts and stories, both assisted by delivering talks on the memorable evening.

Although the world is now a much smaller place in many ways, and travelling much easier than when many of our ancestors left Shetland, interest in genealogy seems to have increased, possibly due to the internet. The Society is still very active, visitors arrive regularly from all over the world and are helped by the members, as always.  This new web site, it is hoped, will attract yet more new members, as the previous one did, when it was launched – another milestone in the history of the Society.

We hope you find the contents useful and interesting as it grows. Membership can now be purchased online and our shop carries a large amount of very useful and interesting material.

Do drop in regularly to see updates and additions.

A freend i da wye is better as a penny i da purse.
(When a need arises a good friend is often better than money)

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are interested in researching your family history, or if you would like to become a society member.