Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Genealogical Societies and Conferences

via Shutterstock, copyright to travellight

One of my New Year’s goals for this year was to join one or more genealogical and /or historical societies in the states or counties where my ancestors resided. Last year I often found very helpful information on county and state historical society and genealogical websites, and several of them indicated that they had further resources that were only available to members. I wasn't in a place last where I could get good use out of such resources last year (moving too fast in order to keep up with my challenge), but this year is a different story.

So I've been looking at my logical choices, based on where my ancestors were: (alphabetically) the Illinois State Genealogical Society, the Indiana Genealogical Society, the Maryland Genealogical Society, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, North Carolina Genealogical Society, the Ohio Genealogical Society, and, the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania.  Michigan would be logical as well, but I've not found a state genealogical society for Michigan. Either way, that’s a lot. It doesn't make sense for me to join one until I get to the ancestor who lives there, so I think I’ll start with Ohio, then Indiana and Illinois.

I took my first step into these sort of waters on the last Saturday in February and attended a meeting of the Capital District Genealogical Society. To my current knowledge I don’t have any ancestors from this area, but it’s local for me, and I thought I could learn more about how to do proper genealogical research and what’s available where, in general. I also look at it as a possible way to make new friends with similar interests, although I didn't necessarily start off on the best foot with that. You see I’m an introvert (I’m told I don’t come off that way online according to online friends I've actually met; they've all been surprised I’m not talkative as they expected, at least not at first – after I get to know you, it’s a whole different story!). Anyway, as an introvert, it’s hard to walk into group where I know no one, and I don’t know what to say.  I told myself before I went in that I had to talk, had to initiate conversations. (Ack!) Each person there was friendly and welcoming when I did speak to them. They were a nice group of people, even when I tried their patience, lol – you see, the second half of the program was on “Learning from Genealogy Blogs” and I just kind of lit up and dived into the lecture conversation, splashing about (wince).

I joined the Society while I was there, and will go back. The next session, on March 28,  is on “Long Distance Ancestors,” which would be a help since I only have a few generations of one branch in New York (so far); most of my ancestors are at a distance from me -- as shown by the list of genealogical societies above.  

They also sold me on going to the New York State Family History Conference in Syracuse in September – the program looks fantastic, including several sessions with one of my  favorite bloggers, Judy Russell of The Legal Genealogist, and speakers from several organizations that I use and respect. It looks really interesting and really helpful. Enough so, that I intend to go, even though instead of walking into a venue with 40 people I don’t know, there will be hundreds I don’t know. …but it will be fascinating!

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