Shetland Family History Society offers help and advice to members as they research their Shetland ancestry and study the histories of their family members.

Founded in 1991, Shetland Family History Society is run solely by volunteers with a passion for ‘reddin kin’. We have accumulated a vast range of records relating to Shetland people including researched histories of specific families, microfilms of all the old parish registers and some editions of Shetland newspapers, old electoral registers, indexes of men and women who served in conflicts, seamen’s lists and much more. At the core of this are the Pedigree Charts we ask new members to complete, and our database of Shetland people. This database is secured, only accessed by designated researchers and will never be put on the internet or sold to any third party.

A friendly team

Our offices are in the Shetland Amenity Trust buildings at Garthspool in Lerwick and are open to visitors. We regularly welcome guests from Shetland and from all around the world.

About a third of our members live outside the United Kingdom, and our friendly team of researchers is used to unearthing the details that make your relative a person and not just a name on a piece of paper. Headed by our Research Secretary a small team answers email and postal enquiries and is able complete limited research in order to do this. This video gives you a glimpse of what we can offer at Garthspool.

Our Garthspool offices

Video © Barnum Smith

Lectures and conferences

In addition to research, the society organises meetings and lectures within Shetland, conferences – now held online and available worldwide, and delivers outreach work to schools and local groups and communities. The society also arranges visits to some places in the United Kingdom with a large Shetland diaspora, as shown in the brief timeline below. Some of our plans including for the Monumental Inscription Photographic Project, are shown on the Projects page.

We hope to welcome you into our 'family' soon, if you are not already a member.

Become a member

A Brief Timeline of the Society



4th September 1991

Meeting held to assess if there would be a demand for a society to research family history – there was.

December 1991

Publication of the first edition of out magazine Coontin Kin. Membership stood at 104 with members from the whole of Shetland, the rest of the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada and Australia.

March 1992

Members started to transcribe every monumental inscription and memorial plaque in Shetland.

16 May 1994

Our Premises at 6 Hillhead, Lerwick were officially opened. We now had a home for the accumulating material and could obtain our own microfilm and microfiche readers.


We had moved with the times and it was reported at the AGM that the new computer system for research was working well and very useful.

Mid 1999

The society’s first email address and web pages were set up.

June 1999

The first Monumental Inscription book (Northmavine Parish) was published.

May 2000

Three-day Society Conference, ‘Sons and Daughters of Shetland’, run in conjunction with the Shetland Millenium Hamefaring attracted attendees from all over the world.

Early 2001

The society welcomed its 1,000th member.

July 2001

The Merchant Navy Seamen’s Discharge Book project commenced.

Hairst 2002

The society email and website addresses were transferred to

March 2003

Society Visit to Aberdeen and the Aberdeen and NE Scotland Family History Society.

September 2003

Project to transcribe all available Shetland censuses and publish them on CDs commenced.

May / June 2004

Shetland Family History Week ‘Dellin Shetland Roots’ with over 120 attendees from all over the world.

April 2005

Society visit to Edinburgh.

April 2005

Publication of first census CD – 1851 & 1861.

May 2006

Society visit to South Shields.

2-4 May 2008

Society stand at “Who Do you Think You Are” event at Olympia in London.

12 September 2009

Society stand at the National Family History Fair in Gateshead, County Durham.

14-15 May 2010

DNA Conference in Shetland hosted by the Shetland Museum and Archives.

Voar 2011

The society welcomed its 2,000th member.

Simmer 2014

Inaugural Sharing Shetland Surname weekend held focused on the surname Gifford.

08 January 2020

The society moves from 6 Hillhead to our new premises in Garthspool.

Simmer 2021

The society welcomed its 3,000th member.

November 2021

First virtual society conference “Sharing Shetland”.