There are a variety of societies throughout Bedfordshire dealing with records, family history, local history and specific areas of interest. Listed below are those that may be of interest to the family researcher in Bedfordshire.
The Ampthill & District Archaeological & Local History Society, founded in 1962, is a member of the Council for British Archaeology and the Bedfordshire Archaeological Council. Exhausted diggers after a hard morning. It has carried out excavations at Beadlow Priory, Ruxox Roman Villa, the Manor Way area of Flitwick, Ampthill By-Pass and other sites in the district. The artefacts discovered have been deposited in Bedford Museum. Reports of archaeological work are published in Bedfordshire Archaeology (formerly Bedfordshire Archaeological Journal) or in Society produced papers. The Society has joined the British Association for Local History, is a founder member of the Bedfordshire Local History Association and researches the history of local villages and their inhabitants. In 1973 the Society published Flitwick: A Short History and a revised version of this is in the course of preparation.
The Ampthill History Forum was established in 1999 to provide a well-informed band of speakers on Ampthill's interesting and significant history.
The Forum organise regular historical walks as well as speaking to other groups. It also acts as a focus and initial contact for those engaged in scholarly research, especially students from the Town's schools and beyond. In addition to the usual resources available to local historians, the Forum has full access to Andrew Underwood's extensive collection. Andrew also acts as Consultant to the Forum.
Forum members are available for general talks and guided tours, although each has their own specialisms. Further details available on request. The Forum has the official endorsement of Ampthill Town Council.
The Bedford Architectural, Archaeological & Local History Society, which has been in existence for over 100 years, currently runs a monthly lecture programme on subjects of local archaeological and historical interest. Recent topics included; timber framed buildings, the history of a local village, oral history, manors and local archaeological discoveries.
Bedfordshire Family History Society (BFHS) was founded in 1977 to bring together those interested in family history, genealogy and heraldry, primarily in Bedfordshire, and to help co-ordinate research and to make our county records more freely accessible. The society holds regular monthly meetings, usually on the first Friday of each month (except August), and publishes a quarterly journal. Activities include transcribing and indexing county records, and copying and indexing monumental inscriptions.
Meetings are held at Mark Rutherford School (near Mowsbury Park), Wentworth Drive, Bedford. Visitors or potential members are welcome.
The Bedfordshire Historical Record Society specialises in promoting access to County history, specifically from archival sources. An annual volume of source material is published, along with monographs on aspects of the County's history.
The Bedfordshire Local History Association promotes the study of local history within and around Bedfordshire and provides a forum for discussion and cooperation between interested groups and individuals.
The Biggleswade History Society has the primary objective of promoting the advancement of public education through the study of local history and Family history in Biggleswade.
Caddington Local History Group originally formed in 1994. Its function is to trace and preserve any aspect of Caddington's past (and present) including the surrounding area. It meets once a month with informative talks given by local personalities.
The Clapham Historical Society was founded in 1992 and focuses on the local history of Clapham and the surrounding area.
The Society meets monthly, with talks held in the village hall during the winter, outings to places of local interest in the spring and summer, and trips by coach or minibus to places further afield.
The Colmworth and neighbours History Society try to promote an interest in history, and particularly local history, though regular, monthly meetings and also through our Research Group.
The Dunstable and District Local History Society was founded in September 1991 and organises monthly meetings where its large audiences are entertained by a variety of speakers.
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Flitwick Local History Society encourages a broad interest in historical topics which can be linked to Bedfordshire.
The Friends of the Bunyan Museum are dedicated to supporting and helping the new BUNYAN MUSEUM, which is situated at the Bunyan Meeting Free Church in Mill Street, Bedford, England.
The Museum was opened in 1998 and has had thousands of visitors since then. It contains many interesting exhibits and models, as well as some of the furniture and objects he used, including his Anvil with which, in the early days, he carried on his trade as a tinker. There are also many valuable copies of Pilgrim's Progress, and 15 of his later works.
Langford History Society, founded in 1983, is a small, friendly village society.
They arrange a full programme of talks which take place in St Andrew's Church Hall in Langford and, in June and July, organise evening vistis to local places of interest.
The Leighton Buzzard & District Archaeological & Historical Society was formed in 2006 by a merger of the Leighton Buzzard & District Archaeological Society and the Leighton Linslade Local History Research Group, both groups having been involved in local research for a number of years. Their focus is on the local landscape, with research into how human activity has changed that landscape and the impact that local people and industries have made.
The Manshead Archaeological Society of Dunstable carries out the study of the prehistory and history of South Bedfordshire and adjoining areas by archaeological methods.
The Manshead Society is one of the few amateur groups which still undertake their own archaeological excavations. This means that local sites of interest can, where it is desirable, be investigated, studied and published by people with local knowledge and experience. Newcomers to archaeology can learn the skills of excavation, recording and publishing.
Members undertake field-walking of cultivated land (with, of course, the permission of the landowners and farmers). In this way a number of previously unknown archaeological sites have been discovered and the information passed on through our publications.
Study of finds goes on at the 'Les Matthews Archaeology Centre' (named after our late founder); this is at 5 Winfield Street, Dunstable. Taking part in all activities is encouraged but not compulsory! There is no better way to learn than by joining in.
A journal is published annually, and there is a twice yearly Newsletter.
The Maulden History Society was founded to preserve the heritage of the village of Maulden and the surrounding area. We are building, together with St. Mary's Church, a permanent local history archive to be maintained for future generations.
The Society holds regular meetings, usually on the last Thursday of the month, with guest speakers and provides a social gathering of people interested in their local history. Each summer they try to organise outside visits with expert guidance.
Riseley Historical Society meets in the Lounge of the Village Hall.
The Potton History Society was formed in 1977 and has built up a membership of over 100 people. It holds monthly meetings in the Community Centre in Brook End, normally on the fourth Thursday of the month. It is an active society which organises trips, publishes material and maintains a developing archive of past and present photographs and documents.
The Roxton & District Local History Group focuses on the local history of Roxton Parish and the surrounding area, organising monthly meetings with speakers during the winter, a summer programme of visits and occasional social activities. The Group encourages the research and publication of local history material, and maintains a small group library and archive. They are affiliated to the Bedfordshire Local History Association, Bedfordshire Historical Record Society and North Beds Preservation Society.
The Sandy & Historical Research Group investigates historical subjects of local and national interest. Monthly talks are held at The Social Centre in Sandy, located behind the Library in the Market Square. Meetings are held on the last Friday of the month, from September to April (excluding December). An outside visit is made every May to a site of historic interest.
The Stevington History Group was formed in September 1999 to research the history of the Village. The object of the Trust is to advance the education of the public in the history of Stevington (Bedfordshire).
The Toddington Historical Society exists to research and record the history of the community and parish of Toddington.
The Woburn Sands & District Society, a registered charity, was formed in 1965 to fight against large-scale industrial developments, to protect the rural qualities of the local villages, to put forward the view of its members and to reflect public opinion in the area.
The primary aim of the Society is to preserve the amenities of Woburn Sands, Aspley Guise and the neighboring villages and hamlets, including Aspley Heath, the Brickhills, Husborne Crawley, Salford, Wavendon and Woburn, and to ensure as far as possible that any development is harmonious with their pleasant rural setting.