Family History Month is not over just yet; there’s still a week to go and some great things going on. If you’ve been hesitant to get involved with a local genealogical society, now’s your chance to dip your toe in the water!
I thought I’d take a moment to let you know what it’s been like being a member of a local genealogical society. I’ve been a member of a number of regional and state genealogical societies in the locations where my roots are: Ohio, NEHGS, Southern California, and St. Louis. There are others too, but my budget is tight so I have to be selective and choose those that provide the most resources to those of us researching from afar.
I hesitated for a long time, however, to be a part of a local Genealogical Society mainly because I don’t have local roots and didn’t believe I had the time to invest in participating as a member. But, as I heard more and more stories about societies folding and their resources and materials being scattered among other groups or, in an extreme case, lost forever, I decided I had to take a position of leading by example.
I live in an area (the western suburbs of Chicago) where we have lots of genealogical societies. I was fortunate to find the group that I believed I could gain the most from and to whom I could give the most in return: the Fox Valley Genealogical Society. At the first meeting I attended, in which Paul Milner was speaking about Irish roots, they asked for volunteers for their free monthly research days at a local library. What possessed me to raise my hand is beyond me, but nearly two years later, I still look forward to the second Tuesday in the month. I’ve met some wonderful family historians working on genealogy problems small and large, local and international.
|Courtesy Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana|
I’ve gained so much from helping others work through their genealogical challenges, and find that I look at my own research differently. Had I not gone to that meeting, I wouldn’t have the benefit of looking at genealogical problems from a different perspective. Plus, I’ve met some really great people.
Genealogical and historical Societies have the goal of preserving family and cultural history. These two things go hand-in-hand, but can’t be accomplished without a wide variety of people with an even wider variety of skills. Please think about sharing your knowledge with a local society.