Family History Societies are very often charitable organisations that help those with similar interests share information, with members helping each other with their family history research. Most groups' main aim is to promote and encourage the study of genealogy.
Larger societies often have reference libraries that contain many of their holdings which can include census returns, electoral rolls, history books, local history books, parish register transcriptions and reference books.
Societies run talks, trips and events, a list of which is usually available on their site. Many talks are given by specialists in their field.
Some societies focus on one niche, most often concentrating on a specific area.
There are many different associations to choose from, each area usually having at least one society.
Most associations transcribe and index original documents, sometimes making these available to purchase, offering publications, CD-ROMs and microfiche for sale which are often only obtainable from the specific society.
It is possible to become a member of a group, but most make a charge for this. They do, however, send out journals to society members and some also make available a list of members' interests. Some databases compiled by the society are accessible only to members.
Most societies are run by volunteers who are passionate and enthusiastic about genealogy. Many volunteers have a great deal of knowledge about genealogy and the local area, so may be able to help you in your quest to discover more about your ancestors.
You do not have to live in the area covered by the society to become a member.
You may even be able to break down a brick wall and finally find that elusive ancestor. As your own quest continues and you obtain more knowledge, you could offer assistance to others in return. You do not need to have a vast knowledge of genealogy in order to join a group.
Further information about associations can be obtained by going to the website of the Family History Federation (FHS). They not only cover groups in England and Wales, but also in Scotland, Australia, Canada and the United States of America. They also provide information regarding groups in some other countries.
There are also many local history societies, where you may find additional information regarding the area in which your ancestors lived.
I also have information regarding societies in Australia, Canada and the United States of America.