Welcome to the Genealogical Society of South Africa

genza bannerWe serve a community of dedicated amateur family researchers. Anyone who hasn't ever dabbled in genealogical research can imagine the relief, joy and great exultation that the genealogist experiences on having made a breakthrough, or finds the final link to complete a family line. It truly is the experience of a lifetime.
Families have migrated far and wide within South Africa. Later descendants of families that arrived in South Africa as early as 1676 trekked North and East, some ending in the present day Namibia and or even further afield to Angola and Kenya. Tracing their footsteps, opens up new worlds, and gives one insight into cultural, political and the religious motivation for these great treks.
The Genealogical Society of South Africa (GSSA) that was established in 1964 has twelve branches of which eleven are land based and one which is an electronic branch catering for members worldwide, via the internet. Each branch arranges its own activities and meets all year round apart from December and January. More information can be gleaned by visiting the branch pages of www.genza.org.za. Members  become close friends and are more than happy to assist newcomers with their research. Many a dead end has been resolved by discussing the issue with a fellow genealogist.
Our aim and goal is:
  • To promote and facilitate interest and research in genealogy and family history to present members, to the genealogical hobbyist and to all members of the public who may be interested in genealogy and/or family history.
  • To promote general understanding of Genealogy and its value, to understand and maintain professional status and dignity for genealogists amongst members of the Genealogical Society of South Africa and the general public.
  • To encourage the observance of the highest standards of research by members of the Society.
  • To provide a wide range of educational courses, research programmes and services for the general benefit of GSSA branches and members, as well as any other service or assistance as may from time to time be decided upon by the National Council of the GSSA.
  • To encourage and develop links with Family History Societies.
  • To establish and maintain contact with like minded Societies throughout the world.
  • To establish a certification program to promote the reliability, professionalism and integrity of all South African Genealogists and Record Researchers.
  • To assist in the preservation of all genealogical records and memorabilia

 


 

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Products and Services - Library

Boeke rekenaarThe GSSA has excellent genealogical sources that are kept at the library of the Heritage Foundation in Pretoria. The Northern Transvaal Branch and the Heritage Foundation have an agreement according to which the Foundation and the Branch cooperate in making available sources for genealogical research.
The collection includes books and magazines in both electronic and published format. This data deals with South African as well as international genealogies, 1820 Settlers and the arrival of the French Huguenots, the German Missionaries, Dutch Immigrants, the Anglo Boer War and British Concentration Camps. A special effort is made to collect and make available family registers and pedigree sheets of individual families. The library is in possession of both the SA Geslagsregisters (SAG) and the more recent SA Family Registers (SAF). Biographies, Several baptism/christening - marriage- and membership registers, as well as registers of various cemeteries and the GSSA Cemetery Recording Project.
NTVL LibraryVolunteers of the Northern Transvaal branch and the full-time librarian of the Heritage Foundation are on hand to provide guidance and assistance. The Heritage Foundation library is in the Heritage Building at the Voortrekker Monument.
Times
Under normal circumstances the library is open on weekdays from 08:00 to 15:00 and one Saturday per month from 10:00 to 14:00 – the Saturday that coincides with the monthly meeting of the Northern Transvaal Branch, usually the second Saturday of the month. 
During the Covid-19 time, the library will only be open from Tuesdays to Thursdays from 8:00 to 15:00. Volunteers will be available on these days from 9:00 to 14:00 to assist researchers. However, there are from time-to-time changes in the regulations and the times may change at short notice. Please call the GSSA librarian (Lynne @ 082-411-8803) in advance to confirm times.
Heritage Foundation Telephone number: 012-325-7885 x2234
Fees
GSSA members pay an entry fee of R15 at the gate to the Voortrekker Monument grounds.  Use of the Northern Transvaal branch collection in the library is free for GSSA members.  Non-members pay an entrance fee of R50 at the gate, and a library fee of R100 per day.  This fee can be paid in cash or via Snapscan, a payment app that lets you pay with your phone, by scanning a QR code.
Library List
Download the Library List (in searchable PDF format).
Please note that it is a large file and takes some time to download. 

Library photo

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Archive tours - Annual schedule

The schedule for 2021 is as follows:
 Dates
 Days
 Status
 Destination
 Accommodation
 Cost
 Comments
 1
 Aug-21
 5 days + travel
 Fully booked
 Western Cape
 Included
 R8500
 Postponed to May 2022 due to Covid
 2    
 Sep-21
 5 days
 Fully booked
 Gauteng
 On request
 800
The provisional schedule for 2022 is as follows:
 
 Dates
 Days
 Status
 Destination
 Accommodation
 Cost
 Comments
 1
 May-22
 5 days + travel
 Confirmed & fully booked
 Western Cape
Included
 R8000
 Postponed from 2021
 2
 Aug-22
 5 days + travel
 Considered
 Western Cape
 Included
 R8500
 
 3
 Sep-22
 5 days
 Considered
 Gauteng
 On request
 R850
 (either Gauteng / Bloemfontein)
or 3
 Sep-22
 5 days + travel
 Considered
 Bloemfontein
 Included
 R5500
 (either Gauteng / Bloemfontein)
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Getting started - Entry points

There are so many entry points to genealogy, here are a few ideas:
  • Start with yourself and record your family information: The ancestral chart project provides some background, examples and family sheets to guide you in collecting core genealogical data – a good start to your genealogical journey.
  • Play with technology: Capture family stories and voices in video clips or audio recordings – it will become a precious family treasure in future. You may consider a genealogical profile questionnaire as an interview tool or just get granny to tell you the well-known family story once again.
  • Create a photo album: Perhaps you have discovered old photos, letters, etc and may want to start an ancestral photo album, enriched with some notes and facts about your family. Remember to keep track of names, dates and places.
  • Learn about genealogy: Visit the library to get a feel for genealogical books and documents. You will become acquainted with available sources and get exposure to how others have documented their family histories. The librarian, skilled in genealogy, will be able to guide you on how to proceed.  Alternatively check out the web shop to procure some genealogical material.
  • Adopt genealogy as a hobby: Join the GSSA and become part of the genealogical community. You will meet kindred spirits, ranging from aspirant to seasoned genealogists. Depending on the surname you are interested in, we may be able to put you in touch with other members working on the same surname. The virtual tour offers a 90 second glimpse into what the GSSA is about.

 

 

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Getting Started

1 Converted
Genealogy may have sparked your interest, but where and how does one start on a genealogical journey?
It is probably easier than you think - and contrary to conventional wisdom you do not have to start at the very beginning – the best place is to start with yourself and your own family circle – the people you know.
“You are born into your family and your family is born into you. No returns. No exchanges.” (Elizabeth Berg)
There are so many entry points to genealogy, we offer a few ideas if you want to try your hand at it.
Be careful not to be seduced by instant family trees. The true facts are ultimately more important and more valuable than a quick and impressive but false pedigree.
When considering family research, it is important to consider before you begin: What is your goal? What do you want to achieve? What is the scope of your planned study?
Whether you just want to dabble in genealogy, to gain a better understanding of the discipline; wish to unravel the multi-dimensional puzzle of the lives of your ancestors; or choose to record your known family history for the  benefit your decedents, genealogy will become a rewarding journey.
 

Footer Getting Started Home

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What is genealogy? Historical origins

Primitive societies memorised the names of their ancestors for thousands of years and transmitted this knowledge to successive generations. In South Africa this oral tradition for the ancestors of certain rulers dates back to almost 1500 AD
The Old Testament contains many examples of family registers
Descent among European nobility was of great importance for the inheritance of titles and the use of family coats-of-arms. Great emphasis was placed on the ancestry and bloodlines of a couple wishing to marry.
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