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Beginning Lesson #30
Genealogy Societies

A few weeks ago in a morning chat we discussed joining a genealogy society. Nearly everyone in attendance belonged to one in their town. Most also joined a society closest to where their ancestors once lived, primarily to receive the society's newsletter. One or two objected to joining the local society since their ancestors didn't live in that region of the country. 

Others were quick to share insights that the local society hardly ever has lectures on local research and that most members are transplanted from somewhere else themselves. Except for local cemetery indexing projects and the like, the local societies we discussed concentrated on teaching basic research techniques useful to nearly all US genealogy researchers. I think this opened a few eyes to the grand possibilities.

Genealogy societies provide members the opportunity to share their successes and failures with each other and to learn research techniques from guest speakers. 

Genealogy Forum on AOL

(AOL Keyword: roots or www.genealogyforum.com)
The Genealogy Forum on AOL is proud to be a member of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. Though we don't meet face to face, except at conventions, you are part of the largest genealogy society in the world. I can't think of another that has over 140 active instructors hosting over 80 meetings per week on a variety of topics such as immigration, computer programs and the internet for genealogists. Each state has a drop-in-hour or a hosted chat as does nearly every county in the world. We have several strong contingents who even publish their own newsletter or monthly column. Lively chats are found in the FOR STARTERS chat room devoted strictly to beginners, and in the FAMILY TREEHOUSE devoted to general genealogy topics.

Sometimes you just have to take a break from the keyboard, but why change the subject when family history is so compelling? Your local reference librarian can tell you about history and genealogy societies in the area. If you choose to participate in a courthouse indexing project, you are really paying your dues. (I'll bet you're also praying someone is doing the same thing at the courthouse where your ancestor's records are maintained!)

Here is a list of the societies I currently belong to:

  • Genealogy Forum on AOL

  • National Genealogical Society

  • Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania (where many of my ancestors once lived)

  • Palatines to America (the ethnic group I am concentrating on lately.)

  • Daughters of Utah Pioneers (seven sets of ancestors helped me qualify!)

  • Manasota Genealogical Society (where I live)

  • Manasota PAF Users Group

The adjoining county is home to the Genealogical Society of Sarasota, whose members man the genealogy section at the Selby Library downtown. In Largo Florida the public library has a genealogy section, complete with several computers and CD-ROMs. The only way you can access the CDs if a volunteer from the local society unlocks the file cabinet which holds them. 

Other libraries are larger and can devote staff to the genealogy reference section. However, local genealogy society members raise funds to buy more book, or help with shelving a few hours a week. Our local LDS Family History Center is staffed mostly with volunteers from the local genealogical society. See the impact these wonderful folks have on family history research! You need to step in and do your part. Its amazing what we can learn by helping others.

So after this rambling lesson, I hope you feel encouraged to take a more active part in your online or local genealogical society. You'll meet a lot of WONDERFUL folks, and I am sure you will a cousin connection! 

Remember, there are no coincidences!

Other Beginning Genealogy Lessons: http://www.DearMYRTLE.com/lessons.htm 

Myrt :)
Daily Genealogy Columnist
AOL Keyword: gf, roots or myrtle 

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