Our membership association – called the Ulster Historical and Genealogical Guild – enables friends and supporters to belong to a growing body of like-minded individuals interested in family history, and in developing a lasting connection to Ulster and Ireland. The Guild brings people together from all over the world in their quest to discover Irish and Scots-Irish ancestors.

Connecting the Diaspora

In 1978 the Ulster Historical Foundation created the Ulster Genealogical and Historical Guild in response to requests from overseas inquirers who wanted to identify with the land of their ancestors and to connect with other like-minded individuals who were passionate about their heritage and ancestry.

Many of the Foundation's Guild members have remained dedicated supporters of the Foundation and our staff have been delighted over the years to make and renew acquaintance with those who have helped to organise and support our programmes both here and in their home countries.

Ancient Discovery

Our Members

When the Ulster Genealogical and Historical Guild officially launched in September 1978, so great had been the initial interest and enquiries from overseas that by day one the Foundation had 170 members. Even today the Foundation's Guild members come from across the globe, from Aberdeen to Auckland, from Schenectady to Singapore, from Los Angeles to Lagos, and from Wolverhampton to Winnipeg.

Beginning with member #001 who joined in September 1978, over 31,600 different people have joined the Ulster Genealogical and Historical Guild (the most recent member as of June 2023 being member #31663).

Guild Member Location

The First Guild Publications

Initially, Guild members received two publications. One was the Newsletter, which was in the form of a magazine and contained a mix of news and articles of genealogical and historical interest. Among these was a series by Dr Anthony Malcomson, which looked at the subject of aristocratic marriage in Ireland. Eventually, in 2007, the Foundation published a massively expanded text by Dr Malcomson titled The Pursuit of the Heiress: Aristocratic Marriage in Ireland, 1740–1840.

The other original Guild publication was the Subscribers' Interest List, which contained contact details for our members along with information on the families they were researching. The idea was to provide members with an opportunity to publicise their research interests and contact other members with similar objectives. Many of our members were able to find new family connections as a result of this.

UHGG Newsletter Thumb

The Directory and Familia

Later these publications were superseded by the Directory of Irish Family History Research and Familia: Ulster Genealogical Review. The Directory continued to publish research interests and members' contact details. Today, we use it to highlight important source material for researchers and to give our members an opportunity to highlight work that they have been undertaking.

Familia first appeared in 1985 under the editorship of Ken Darwin, a former Director of PRONI, and longstanding Trustee of the Foundation. Trevor Parkhill, once of PRONI and subsequently of the Ulster Museum, has been the editor since 1994. Familia is well established as a journal publishing high-quality articles and reviews from many of the top historians of Ireland (at home and abroad), especially those in the fields of migration history.

Authors have included D.H. Akenson, Jonathan Bardon, Thomas Bartlett, Brenda Collins, W.H. Crawford, James S. Donnelly, Paddy Fitzgerald, Linde Lunney, Richard MacMaster, David W. Miller, Kerby S. Miller, Michael Montgomery, Patrick O'Farrell, and Cormac Ó Gráda. Familia has also given family historians an opportunity to present their work to a wide audience.

  • Combined Covers
  • Familia Covers
  • Directory Covers

Going Digital

Launched in 1998, our website provided a new way for Guild members to engage with the Foundation and interact with other members. It also provided the Foundation with a platform where it could provide access to helpful materials, new databases and resources for Guild members.

The research interests of our members were now made available on online as well as appearing in the Directory of Irish Family History Research. New databases, starting with Subscribers to Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary of 1837 and the Index to the 1796 Flaxgrowers’ Bounty List, were added to the new website, opening up new opportunities for members to find that elusive ancestor.

In 2022 the Foundation released the first digital edition of our Directory of Irish Family History Research as well as a brand new publication, The Kiltonga Bugle, a digital newsletter that is produced by the Foundation each summer and sent out to members. The Bugle includes genealogical and historical news, reports on recent activities and forthcoming events, research tips, short articles and crucially, over time, we hope many contributions from individual members.

Our Website Since 1998

  • Website circa 1998
  • Website circa 2000
  • Website circa 2003
  • Ancestry Ireland circa 2005
  • Website circa 2010
  • Website circa 2016

The Future

The number of Guild members has grown considerably since it was launched in 1978, matching the expectations and enthusiasm of fresh waves of genealogists. With the Internet revolutionising genealogical research, the Guild has adapted to the digital age and we are now focused on developing further our online presence and the resources on offer for our members.

With the launch of our new website in 2023, the Foundation’s aim is to provide more content, resources and records for our members. To this end we have created our Members’ Digital Library, a growing digital repository of publications (both UHF and other publishers), and our Members' Research Area, a section of our website focusing on a range of themes in Irish history and genealogy.

William with Delegate