Just the other day, I received one of those mail calls that we, as family historians and genealogist, LOVE.
I went to the mailbox and there inside was a lovely, large, thick, manila envelope with my name on! Stamped ‘Do not bend – Photographs’ only got my excitement even higher as I walked back down to my office.
At first I was puzzled by the return address. It just said “HSJGS“. I puzzled a bit until I looked at it backwards. Ah, yes, those lovely initials G.S. Who among us who love genealogy don’t know that shorthand for ‘Genealogical Society’? Naturally we all do, so it wasn’t long until I recalled a recent inquiry I had made to the Hemet-San Jacinto (California) Genealogy Society.
In the case of the Hemet-San Jacinto Genealogical Society, I was pursing a newly discovered branch of my family when I reached out to them. Within weeks, I got my packet and it was a lot like a Halloween bag of goodies! Three obituaries, three cemetery record sheets, and even personalized photographs of the gravestones of the ancestors I was researching. It is all terrific quality as well.
This experience made me think back to some of the other local Societies I have worked with over the past years. So many have served up really outstanding assistance, information, and genealogical gems!
Over and over I have had wonderful successes with local genealogical societies. Often their records are not yet digitized and often are from some very specific, local books, maps, brochures, and the like that are very scarce and hard to find. Another fine example of service and information above and beyond the call of duty was the help I received from the Wadena County Historical Society in Minnesota.
Sure, every once in a great while I run into a ‘bummer’ of an organization, but that has only happened to me one time (and I am still waiting more than a year later for my information). Every other time I have been met with pleasant, local folks who go above and beyond in helping me out with my family history.
I have often taken the step of becoming a member of many of these local organizations. Their dues tend to be a bargain (actually far too low in many cases, or so I think), and you get a terrific ROI on your investment. Plus they need the support to keep going!
At the Czech Heritage Partnership, in Protivin, Iowa, there is an amazingly robust group of supporters, organizers, and volunteers. Plus they put together one of the most comprehensive local history books I have seen, titled “The Protivin Community Past and Present”, which at over 600 pages has hundreds and hundreds of family biographies and well researched community information. I was so impressed with this volume, I now have a copy of it on my library shelves.
I was even treated to a great find when I discovered the local neighborhood organization the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation and its local newspaper “Old Brooklyn News“. This award winning newspaper has been a source of some excellent information on the history of this neighborhood. This was a great find since I had many ancestors in this area of Cleveland, Ohio and it is like a direct link back to that neighborhood. So remember that some larger cities have lovely and very useful neighborhood organizations and groups.
Unique resources, lovely folks, and and awesome help and information of all kinds! So don’t forget these local gems as you pursue your family history and genealogy goals.
What have your best experiences been with local Societies?
Onward To Our Past®