Principal genealogical research agency in Ireland
Originating as the Ulster-Scot Historical Society, retitling itself to its present name in 1975 to gain a wider remit, the Ulster Historical Foundation is widely regarded as one of the principal genealogical research agencies in Ireland. It provides a professional and comprehensive ancestral research service for the historic province of Ulster (now the six counties of Northern Ireland and the three border counties of Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan): answering 3000 genealogical enquiries and undertaking over 400 indepth searches each year for clients from all around the world.
A comprehensive genealogical database
A new element was added to this ancestral research service in 1991 when Ulster Historical Foundation became involved in the Irish Genealogical Project (IGP). This is a programme for the creation of a comprehensive genealogical database for the entire island of Ireland and represents a most significant development in Irish genealogy. The Foundation is responsible for the computerisation of the records for the counties of Antrim and Down, including Belfast. This is the largest single quantity of records to be computerised by any one centre in the island: church records alone will represent a total of two million entries.
Family historians publicise their research interests
In response to overseas inquiries the Ulster Historical Foundation established the Ulster Ulster Genealogical and Historical Guild in 1978. This is managed like a book club and has a membership register past the 7,000 mark. It is essentially a research cooperative and aims to prevent duplication of research effort and to bring together people with similar interests. Subscribers receive two annual publications: Familia - Ulster Genealogical Review which contains articles about Irish history and genealogy; and the Directory of Irish Family History Research which is the most complete and up-to-date record of Irish genealogical research in progress enabling family historians world-wide to publicise their research interests.
Leading publisher of historical, educational and genealogical books
The Foundation has a wide range of publications most of which come under the headings Historical Series, Local and Family History Series, Educational Series, and Gravestone Inscription Series. The Historical Series aims to provide a deeper understanding of aspects of Irish history, particularly settlement in and emigration from Ulster since 1600. The Local and Family History Series provides local history societies, genealogists and community groups with a mechanism for having their research published professionally. The Educational Series is intended primarily for pupils aged between 12-16. It looks at how the various source materials which are available for study of local history can be used in the classroom. The contribution by experienced teachers ensures that this series reflects the recent emphasis on Cultural Heritage and Education for Mutual Understanding. Finally, the Gravestone Inscription Series makes available genealogical information from graveyards, wills, newspapers and other sources in Ulster.
Online Bookstore and searchable databases
Anxious to make historical publications and source material more readily available both at home and abroad Ulster Historical Foundation has developed an online bookstore. It offers a broad range of publications on Irish, family and local history. This site also hosts a range of searchable databases.
Conferences, workshops and tours
Additionally, the Foundation hosts regular genealogical and cultural heritage conferences which consist of lectures, workshops, archival research and tours, and attract both local and overseas delegates. These usually take place during the month of September and include venues in Belfast and Dublin. The Foundation also undertakes annual lecture tours of USA and occasional tours of Australia and Britain.