Genealogy can be a lonely business. I knew this from the start when I would sit on the edge of my seat waiting for an invitation for my dad or brothers to ask me about my family research-and it often didn’t come. Or when my husband’s eyes would cloud when I couldn’t stop talking about a family line or an exciting new find.
One of the first resources to help me with genealogy research was the local genealogy society. And there I did not feel alone anymore. I found a place of people with a common goal.
Top 4 reasons to join your local genealogical society:
You won’t feel alone anymore. Surrounding yourself with other people who have the same passion for genealogy is motivating. These are the relationships I enjoy the most. I’m always surprised and thrilled when a genealogy friend emails me with a connection or a source they have found for me. One of the area society’s researchers helped me through a brick wall, which led me to my Mayflower certification. How fantastic is that! Someone else agrees: http://www.genealogy.com/articles/research/74_kathy.html
Assistance with your research. Whether it is access to the society’s library, an article in a past journal or newsletter, advice given by one of the local experts or a meeting speaker, or something you find on the society’s website, local societies offer free or low cost assistance that positively impacts my research and will yours too.
Learn appreciation for past volunteers. The records available at the local genealogy libraries are there due to the tedious and dedicated work completed through hours and hours of volunteerism. I have more appreciation now that I know how these individuals have worked on each project: reading cemeteries, indexing obituaries, and transcribing records. The work they have done is the backbone of our research today.
Participate in creating new research items for the society’s collection. I know you may be thinking: “No Way! I have too much to do!”. Yes! and don’t we all. But just like our ancestors who traveled to new, unknown and often unsettled places, we need to do our part to add to research history. You might be the person who donates money for a month of newspapers to be made available online. You may be willing to transcribe records at your own computer. These efforts by you and me may just provide a fact necessary for one our children or grandchildren to solve a brick wall in the future. We can’t settle for the past, but we need to participate for the future.
It’s true that the 21st century has brought with it “a brick wall” of sorts, separating those in our local genealogy societies that don’t use technology and those that do. This we can overcome together. Societies need all ways of thinking: the past, the present, and the future. It’s never about the computer program or new app, it’s always about people. If we can remember that, we can overcome this brick wall brought about by advancing technology in this 21st century.
How has your local genealogy society been helpful to you and your research?
Kim has a passion for Genealogy. After retiring from a career as a teacher, administrator and education consultant, she spent the past several years doing extensive family research. She is a newsletter editor for the Illinois State Genealogical Society and the Peoria County Genealogy Society. Kim is also a member of the Peoria Chapter of DAR Daughter of American Revolution and a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.