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W.I.S.E. Family History Society

Wales, Ireland, Scotland, England

If you or any of your ancestors came from the British Isles, you'll find many others with the same background among our membership. We love the genealogy as well as the culture of those four small but significant countries that have made a mighty contribution to America.

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Welcome Message From Our President

Barb Price JPEGWelcome to the W.I.S.E. Family History Society Website. We are dedicated to understanding the history and culture of the British Isles – Wales, Ireland (including Northern Ireland), Scotland and England – combined with a heavy dollop of genealogy. We value the significant contributions those comparatively small countries have made to America, and take special pleasure in seeing how our ancestors were involved in the relentless tide of history in both the British Isles and America.

We are based in Denver, Colorado, and our membership extends over several states as well as to the British Isles. We conduct at least eight monthly program meetings each year, mixing education with presentations about our ancestral customs. Our other major events are our annual seminar on some phase of British Isles genealogy and a research trip each year to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Many more activities are listed on these pages.

We are friendly and high-spirited, and welcome everyone with an interest in family history and ancestry in the British Isles.

Allan Turner, president

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Mission Statement

The mission of the W.I.S.E. Family History Society is to promote interest and education in genealogy and family history as they pertain to the British Isles.

News Items

Updated: 03/24/2015

This section provides information on important changes and/or additions to the website or its content. Please ensure that you check it each time you visit.

  • Handouts for the "Understanding the Anglican Church" program on Saturday, March 28, 2015, are available for download on our Meetings page.
  • Information concerning our 2015 Annual Research Trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City is now posted on our Activities page. Register early and don't miss out on this exciting research opportunity.
  • A news item has been added to our News 'n Things page concerning an interment list, that was previously believed destroyed, of Irish immigrants buried at St. John's Cemetery, Albany, New York. A link to the interment list's introductory page on the Troy Irish Genealogy Society's website has also been added to our Research page for your convenience.
  • Handouts relating to Jeffery James' presentation "Awsome Austen and Dickinsian Dickins" are posted on the Meetings page, under Past Meetings. His presentation was the program at our scheduled membership meeting on Saturday, October 25, 2014.
  • The most recent version of our Membership Roster, updated on 09/19/2014, is posted on the Members Only page and is available in both PDF and MS Excel format.
  • Check out the link to "The Down Survey of Ireland" on our News 'n Things page and access a remarkable selection of historic Irish maps.
  • An updated version of the Members' Surnames of Interests (SNI) spreadsheet (Updated: 11/15/2014) has been posted on both the Membership page and the Members Only page. The latter provides additional options for members, including a Members' Contact List that provides a key to enable members to contact those of us who have submitted surnames for inclusion on the SNI spreadsheet.

Our Society

W.I.S.E. was established in 1983 to motivate and assist family history researchers with ancestors who came from the British Isles, and to illuminate their culture and history.

W.I.S.E. is a not-for-profit society. Its members are interested in genealogy and family history and benefit from a social environment that encourages an atmosphere of shared knowledge.  Among its scheduled activities, it sponsors research seminars and trips, culturally based social events and outings, as well as providing volunteers to support activities at annual festivals.

Our membership includes many knowledgeable people who are enthusiastic about British and Irish research and history. They are willing to offer guidance to others in their pursuit of locating ancestors. We maintain a Members Interest database, where members can connect with others working on the same surnames. You might meet a cousin, or other relative.

W.I.S.E. does not maintain a store to sell merchandise, nor does it have office space. And, it does not offer professional genealogy lookup or research services.

W.I.S.E. officers and board members are all volunteers, whose compensation and motivation is derived from the knowledge that their efforts are contributing to the preservation of our family histories and heritage.

The Denver Public Library (DPL) Western History and Genealogy Department has supported W.I.S.E. since our founding. DPL provides our meeting space, specialized research materials and some professional research guidance. In turn, W.I.S.E. maintains a DPL resource fund to purchase books and periodicals for the library's genealogical collection.


Updated: 09/23/2013

The W.I.S.E. Family History Society Bylaws can be downloaded by selecting the following download link:

W.I.S.E. Family History Society Bylaws

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Our Heritage and Identity

Author: Allan Turner

Mary Jane Bootherstone with twins Alan and JoanA person's family, both past and present, provides the foundation on which that person's identity is built. Without that foundation, it's conceivable that a person's entire identity will never be truly revealed. In a modern family, one's identity is defined more by individual achievement, than by the genetic and societal influence of his or her ancestors.

In the 19th century family history research, of which genealogy is a component, was almost exclusively of interest to persons who had obtained their wealth or high social status by inheritance. Whereas, the less fortunate were more likely to suppress their family history as a result of embarrassment or shame.

Modern families, through changes in social values and beliefs, and economic necessity, bear little resemblance to families in the early to mid-19th century. No longer, do we maintain the strong family ties of old. No longer, do we enter every birth, marriage or death in the family Bible.  We are so busy being consumed by the pace of our daily lives that we rarely take a moment to look into the shadows of our past. Take the time to ask yourself,  “Who are those people in the faded brown photographs in that dusty old box in the attic, and how are they related to me?”

This is your opportunity to take a step towards capturing your family history before it fades into oblivion. You're invited to join us at one of our scheduled meetings or activities, to see what we have to offer as a family research society.  Together, we can help you discover your heritage and to recognize the contribution your ancestors made towards your identity and to the identity of our nation as a whole. (Posted: 01/27/2012)

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Flags of the British Isles and Ireland

The primary flags of the British Isles are represented in the left sidebar, with the exception of Northern Ireland. The fact is, Northern Ireland has not had its own unique flag since 1973. That flag had stirred up a lot of controversy, because it contained an image of the "Red Hand of Ulster." Thus, it was abolished when the government of Northern Ireland was suspended under the Northern Ireland Constitution Act of 1973.

The flag of the United Kingdom, the Union Jack, is currently the only official flag representing Northern Ireland. It is made from an amalgamation of the crosses of St. George (England), St. Andrew (Scotland) and St. Patrick (Ireland).

Link to Wikipedia's "List of British Flags."


W.I.S.E. Family History Society, Denver, Colorado Since 1983
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