Monday, May 23, 2011

Should I Join My Local Genealogy Society?

While gathering information for my monthly "Fun With Search Terms" series, I came across a search phrase leading to my blog that warranted its own post and answer:

Should I join my local genealogy society if I don't have family here?

My answer is yes, and here's why:

You will meet new people that have an interest in genealogy like you do. It's really refreshing to be part of a group that enjoys family history and speaks about it enthusiastically. Conversations about censuses that incite snores at your own family dinner table are met with enthusiasm at local genealogy society meetings.

Programming at local society meetings often covers general genealogy topics that benefit all members. For example, I've attended meetings about genealogy DNA tests and military records. Sometimes small societies have local history programs as well. Even if the subject doesn't pertain to your own ancestors, there's always something interesting to learn. Plus, groups often have side meetings or opportunities for members to assist each other in research and brick wall advice. The collective wisdom in a local society is priceless.

Almost all local genealogy societies are non-profit and dependent on volunteers. Your participation helps local groups to survive. You can also volunteer your time or expertise by being an officer, a snack bringer, or an assistant for anything the society may need. You may even share your own genealogy knowledge by being a guest speaker for your own group.

Parting thoughts
I belong to several societies where I do not have any local history. I recently joined a friendly group on the other side of town. I have zero ancestry in this part of Texas, but I have enjoyed the programs. Last month the group hosted a local historian who talked about the old railroad depot and the train history of the area. It was very interesting. Plus the members are all so dang nice. It's always a good meeting.

Hopefully the person that searched my blog asking that question will read my answer. Jump on in and be a part of a group that shares your interest in family history. There's so much to gain.



  1. I couldn't agree more, Amy. My interests lie primarily in Lancashire, so I joined that family history society. But I now live in the Scottish Borders, abnd although I have no ancestry connections here, I joined the Borders Family History Society many years ago, because I thought I could meet fellow enthusiasts and learn a lot about researching.

  2. Great post, and absolutely on target!

  3. I agree, too! I joined my local Londonderry, New Hampshire historical society even though I don't have family here (they came from nearby in Rockingham County, but no local roots). I learned so much about colonial New England that was useful, that I started my own blog and eventually found enough in common between the local people and my own ancestors that I added that into my blog, too. Later I found local people who married distant cousins, including the settlers on the land where I know live! There are lots of chances to help other people with their roots, and by volunteering I've sharpened my own research skills. It was a good move I've never regretted!

  4. Ditto. I have so many fond memories from local society outings and meetings. I met my best friend at a local meeting. Now we have lunch every Tuesday...and have for about 25 years. We seldome miss. Now where else can you find friends like that these days? Besides, only another genealogist understands the "genealogy bug."

  5. Great post.

    Now that I am newly retired I was looking around for a local society to join, I joined one that was nearby but in an area where I have no interests. I wrote about my experience of "Joning up" in a recent post:

  6. Excellent post, Amy! Sadly, when I joined my local society there just seemed to be several people that couldn't understand why I was there! I think those few are starting to warm up though ;)

  7. I joined my local gen society even though I'm not researching in this area. Because of this association I've met great people and attended several educational sessions I wouldn't have found otherwise.

  8. Great Post Amy, I agree with all of it.
    Education from the local society is very important even if you have no local ancestors.