Friday, February 19, 2010

Genealogy Societies and Why to Join them

A topic near and dear to my heart and mind. I am forever trying to convince people that a society is your next best friend if you do research in genealogy.

I will say I have heard some pretty sad stories from people across the US regarding the state of some societies and the non caring of helping their members. Now that indicates to me why some are failing. But let us look on the bright side.

Let us say you live at least 20 miles from a library and a society and you do not feel it worth being a member. You feel you never gain anything from them to help you.

Well, what have you done to help them? I find the more I help others the more knowledge I gain and the more information I have to share with others. That information is no good to me if I can not help others with it. I am not that big of an ID. Yes I apply that data to my research but why keep it to myself. One never knows when what you share may be the light bulb going on to help someone else. Many times even if I have read it before or heard it before someone else at that event may say it a bit different and then I know what I need to address in my research.

A societies benefits are varied. Let us start with fellow members in arms, then topics we all can share to assist us given by the society, newsletter, maybe a quarterly pamphlet, Yearbook of all members, (why so you can find whom else may be searching your same kin), Surname files, queries asked and answered, personal help on a specific problem in your research, computer knowledge shared at many societies today, knowledge learned about which program is best for your needs. Almost sure each society has a five generation surname chart filled out by their members for people to scan through, some even have this data up on line.

The speakers that may be brought in or knowledge shared by fellow members is always worthwhile and interesting and can be applied to your own research situations.

As genealogists we have learned to adapt to the changes brought about over the many
many years of research. Changes are many in the last 20 years and many more are coming
best place to learn about them is at your local or near local society.

Yes, you should join the society where you are doing the bulk of your research. You have many benefits by being a member. I helped one of my favorite societies to come up to speed into the modern world by acquiring a computer. They now have a web page.
That helps everyone.

I have to say I am a staunch supporter of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society and helped to co found it long ago. I was not active when it was finally completed but sat through many meetings to get us up and running in the 1980's. I went back to work and could only pop in once in awhile for a few more years.

I think of the 8 to 12 people who started it and today we have over 100 members again.
When I was President we also had a high number, My Huffman cousin was President a bit before me and that was so cool. Another learned cousin was President after me.

It is amazing the things one can learn and enjoy by being a member. It just could be they are setting there waiting for the push to be more involved. Anyone young or old can be a viable help to a society.

I am a member of the New England Historical Genealogical Society, Ohio Genealogy Society, Genealogical Society of Southwest Pennsylvania ,Washington Co. PA, Cornerstone Genealogical Society in Greene Co.PA, San Diego Genealogical Society and others. I have belonged to NGS the National Organization, Berkeley Co, VA society, Berks Co PA society, Also some that have folded, German Research Group of San Diego is no more, great group but run out of helpers.

I am looking forward to rejoining one national one that melded with another society creating a new organization.

I also recommend you rotate your membership if you have resolved problems in one area move the association with a new society to the area you are now researching.

Alas I have so much family from Washington, Greene and Fayette Co., PA I may never been done with them.

Let me share with you what Cornerstone Genealogy Society did for me, as a new member that lives in California many years ago and yet. I had belonged for a year or so and met many new cousins just from query's in the quarterly I received. I decided to go visit them and many new found cousins. I had already paid them to do some research to confirm some data before I came. The lady who did the research met me for breakfast my first day there. She gave me the names of various peoples in the town that could help me in my research in Waynesburg, PA. She also gave me names and addresses of other cousins I was not aware of. When I arrived at the library which they knew when I was coming, they had laid out 20 books for me to go through to find answers to the many questions I had asked them about. I will never forget their generosity and helpfulness.

It freed up my time to hunt for other books. I was able to get more data than I would have had time for if I had not talked to them ahead of time. They had copied the cards with surnames on it of other researches looking for my names. I spent several days in that library and at various cousins homes sharing family stories and events and comparing information and family knowledge.

I learned my Uncle had a twin as a distant cousin there named Jacob Huffman. My Aunt Mae now deceased also had a twin from another siblings line from Henry and Elizabeth Huffman Hoffman. We used many of the same words and terms when talking yet my family had left there by 1870s to IOWA. My Great Grandfather had gone back several times and my Grandfather went once as a 5 year old before he started school. Sanford I never learned if he got back even for his parents funerals. So we had hand written letters shared and not even phone calls until I came along. My Grandfather had migrated on to Wyoming where MOM was born so it was really amazing to see so much the same yet different. We definitely were related.

Join a society even if it's at a distance and learn as much as you can about the place and times they lived. It helps us also to grow in knowledge of ourselves.

O yes, if no Genealogical Society try a Historical Society that is what I had to do in
New York.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your post. Genealogy Societies can be of great service when they reach out beyond themselves and help those with ancestors in the community reconnect. I received super service from several early in my search, and was happy to support their efforts financially as well as with return favors. Keep up the good work!

    Keep these ancestor stories coming!

    Bill ;-)
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"