Have you joined a genealogical society? A few years ago I joined three different societies, beginning with my local county chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society (also known as OGS), OGS, and the National Genealogical Society. Later I joined a fourth, an online only society in an area of the United States that pertains to my ancestral journey.
Why Join a Genealogy Society?
I love genealogical societies, because they are a great resource for your research. At the various levels, whether it’s county, state, or national, each has something that stands out to make it unique.
My local Summit County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society is a wonderful resource because it meets monthly (except in August and December). At these meetings, which are the third Saturday of the month, we have speakers pertaining to different topics. As I type this tomorrow is our meeting, and our program is “Useful Tools for Those with German Ancestors” by Dana Palmer. She is one of my favorite presenters, discovering her at a Family History Day at the Summit County Family History Center in October 2018.
This past year we attempted to have a research day at the Akron-Summit County Public Library in the Special Collections department, which has several computers available for access to online databases (Ancestry, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, FindMyPast, AmericanAncestors, and more, you just need a library card). They also have books on local history and genealogy from all over the country (possibly all 50 states, if not, it’s close) to aid in sources not online. We ended up doing mostly solo research, but it was nice to know others were there in case we needed to float ideas.
Presently our meetings are hybrid, meaning we meet in person at a conference room at the main library but members can also be a part of the meeting from their homes via Zoom.
Ohio Genealogical Society
The Ohio Genealogical Society is the largest genealogical society in the United States and has a wonderful 4-day conference each spring that moves between three locations: Cincinnati, Columbus, and Sandusky (I wish they would do one in my area, not that the drive has prevented me from attending).
They also do a weekend retreat in the Fall at a rustic getaway (picture cabins in the woods) with high profile speakers discussing topics of interest. I looked at their event page and not much was listed, but their recently updated website has a number of genealogical resources available, but you must be a member to view.
The National Genealogical Society
There is a higher price tag to become a member for the National Genealogical Society but I find it to be worth it. Along with free classes there are classes you can purchase in order to be a better family historian.
Like OGS, NGS has a yearly conference that takes place in a different location every year. Since I’ve been a member they have been in St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Richmond, and this years is to take place in Sacramento. They have both in person, virtual, and on-demand options for attending.
A little over a year ago NGS merged with the Federation of Genealogical Societies and now have these societies as a focus in the NGS Magazine. By combining both organizations they can focus on caring for the needs of all areas of family historians.
This past week (or maybe it was last week), NGS launched Forum, a member community where members can discuss family history with each other, but societies, libraries, archives, and museums associates can “discuss building successful genealogy organizations”. This sounds like a great way for ideas to be bounced around and for you to communicate with others, possibly where you are researching.
NGS also has two wonderful magazines, one with a hodge podge of information, the NGS Magazine, and one that is filled with case studies, National Genealogical Society Quarterly. Both are valuable tools for the family historian.
The NGS website also lists a number of events on their website for their own sponsored events as well as other genealogical societies across the United States. They are all quite helpful for those who want to continue to learn.
Painted Hills Genealogy
Painted Hills Genealogy Society is a website I stumbled upon and that I value so much. It has so much information on the website, and your dues allow you access to an exclusive Facebook group. The website pertains to southwestern New York counties (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chatauqua, Livingston, and Steuben) and two northwestern Pennsylvania counties (Potter and McKean). These are the counties (both New York and Pennsylvania) where my Dunbar, Williams, and Gustin families all hail from on my maternal side of the family. Joining a society that is all about the area you are researching is simply invaluable.
To Sum It All Up
So, whether you join just locally or want to broaden your horizons, there is so much to gain by becoming a member of a genealogical society. Each society has something to offer, and you can normally learn a lot about them by visiting their website (I’ve included links above to all the ones I’ve talked about today).
Take some time from your researching to check out these valuable resources. If your budget is limited choose only one to sign up for but make sure it’s one you know you will get the most bang for your buck. Sometimes it’s worth signing up for society in the area of the country that will most benefit your researching (as I have the Painted Hills Genealogy).
I know my local society allows visitors to check them out, or even if they have a program that you are interested in. Everyone is always welcome, so take a chance and become involved! You’re only going to find people with the same hobby as you!