G is for Genealogical Societies & the genealogical community


My A2Z 2016 theme is how to pursue an interest in family history/genealogy – I’d love you to join me on the journey.


In the online world within which we live and often research these days, it’s easy to think we don’t need anything more than the genealogical programs offered commercially (naming no names).  Even those who’ve used genealogical societies extensively in the past can succumb to the “I don’t need them” perspective, newer researchers often don’t even know they exist, or what they can offer.

So what can they offer?

group people

Societies, like people, come in all shapes and sizes. If you’re fortunate enough to have a choice around you, it’s worth checking with your genimates which societies they like and why. One will suit one person more than another. For example I’m a member of one, the Toowoomba and Darling Downs Family History Society which does a great job for its remote members who can’t access the library. Regular emails and electronic journals from other societies are gold for distant researchers, helping them to feel less isolated. Also most societies offer a fixed quota of research time for distance members.

The most important thing, though, that comes with society membership is expertise. I mentioned life-long learning under E for Education and this is where societies can really advance the researcher’s understanding. Most have a programme of expert speakers from time to time including occasional seminars from visiting speakers from overseas and interstate. Each speaker has skills in one or varied areas of research and will challenge you with new information and research strategies.

Nor do we need to rely on one-off, periodic seminars. Genealogical societies have members with diverse and lengthy experience of researching their families in different areas. You don’t have to take everything you’re told as gospel but it does help to brainstorm with similar obsessives….you might be given a strategy that’s just been eluding you.

Societies also have great libraries with books, pedigree charts, microfilms and microfiche. You know some of those indexes you search on commercial sites? They’ve actually been sourced from societies whose members have been busily indexing for decades. Which is not to say all microfilms have been indexed, or all indexes uploaded to commercial sites.

The other bonus is that almost every society will have a special interest group. These can include writing groups, genealogical IT groups (and advice), special national interest groups (Scottish, English, Irish, Pioneers etc etc).

Do yourself, and your research, a favour – go check out a genealogical society near you.


Yes, sure there are occasional skirmishes in the community, just as in any other group, but to a very large extent the geneacommunity is a warm and welcoming one, more than happy to help you advance your research, provide ideas and strategies and also listen where others go blank-eyed from boredom.

If you’re thinking of blogging/aka writing about your family history, the Geneablogger community, established by geneaguru Thomas MacEntee, is a wonderfully supportive group. If you read other’s posts and comment, before long you will be part of a group of people who quickly become mates. And then there are the multiplicity of Facebook groups which have been established to connect researchers.

Trust me, you will no longer feel alone and you will wind up with world-wide friends.

Thank you for visiting me on this journey. I love comments <smile>

20 thoughts on “G is for Genealogical Societies & the genealogical community

  1. Genealogy can be a lonely pursuit but with societies and the geneacommunity we have a stong support. I am grateful that the geneacommunity brought me in contact with you, my friend Pauleen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve tended to be something of a loner most of my life but my genea-gang has changed that Alex 🙂 While I use my societies less in person these days ( a by-product of living so far away for so long), I am slowly getting back in the swing of things.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t belong to a Society anymore. I get most of my help now from people on genealogy facebook groups. So many people willing to help, look things up, take photos in cemeteries and share their expertise. I have busted many a brick wall with the help of these fine people! Also gives me a chance to help others all over the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see your point Dianne but then societies also offer special courses and lectures which are a great help. Unfortunately some of the FB info I have seen can be quite misguided, unintentionally, so it’s good that you’ve been successful with what you’ve been given.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post, Pauleen. Some genealogy societies in the U.S. also offer online webinars to members. These are great, because you can watch them any time. They often cover topics of international interest, such as researching Irish ancestors. Totally worth the price of membership.

    Molly of Molly’s Canopy

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Me too – Florida, Illinois and Legacy have the most and I keep a good eye on their calendar. Often for non members they are free to watch for a week or so. The best I saw that changed the way I look at my ancestors location is Google Earth for Genealogy by Lisa Louise Cooke. It is great no matter where you live. It is now free to watch on her website at Genealogy Gems

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks for your post, Pauleen. I love the way the genealogical society brings people together – both in person and online. From my experience, the community of genies (local and afar) seems to be a very supportive mob:) Great to be a part of it all.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Finding Geneabloggers in my early days of blogging saved my life because I had no clue how to present my research in a blog. I’m in several genealogy groups on Facebook. I am an active volunteer with a historical society that serves the same purpose for those of us with genealogical interests as they have lots of family histories in their collections.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.