After reading several excellent submissions for the 82nd Carnival of Genealogy, I am making it my business to contribute, just before the cutoff! This carnival asks bloggers to submit thoughts about their favorite genealogy society, along with comments about why the do or do not participate in a society.
I am currently a member of three genealogical societies, and one historical society. They are the National Genealogical Society, the Wexford Genealogy Organization, the Hoosick Township (Rensselaer Co., NY) Historical Society, and OCGS, which is profiled below. In the past I have been a member of another historical society and another genealogical society.
I will continue to support NGS as long as I can. I really benefit from their publications, which have helped me in my research process. Both WGO and Hoosick History have helped me with information in my research, and I intend to continue my memberships in those organizations in the foreseeable future.
I am a very active member of the Oakland County (Michigan) Genealogical Society. I have been the treasurer of the Society since 2003, and have also contributed in other ways when I can. I joined OCGS sometime in the 1990’s, I suppose the membership records would yield the exact date if I really needed to know. Even though OCGS meets in the evenings, I was not able to attend many meetings during the early membership, when I traveled in my project management job, and was often out of town on meeting evenings.
I am not sure if OCGS is my “favorite” society, but it is where I make my genealogical home. Since I have no ancestors in Oakland County, Michigan, some people may wonder why I devote so much time and effort to the Society. Viewpoints differ, but here how I describe the reasons for my involvement:
- Genealogical research is genealogical research. Techniques and tools evolve and change, but all of them are not always location specific. How to use a specific computer program, or how to find information in courthouses, archives, and libraries are just examples of skills addressed by a local society that can benefit members, regardless of the location of their ancestral families.
- Meetings with like-minded people nourish my soul. When is the last time someone from your neighborhood, bridge club (do they still have those?) or church asked how your research was going? Do they even know you spend time, effort and money on genealogical research? I simply love going somewhere and having someone ask, “What did you discover this (week, month, summer, year)?” It is my pleasure to hear about others research and share their success stories and frustrations.
- Give back, or pay forward. Much of the information I have gathered is because some society somewhere did something. Local societies collect, index, print, post, do look-ups, and generally make information from their geographical area available. Helping make information near where I live available to researchers is my way of paying back, or forward, that thought fullness.
- Everything is not on the internet, nor will it be in my lifetime. Networking with researchers gives me an opportunity to learn about and locate resources, refine techniques and expand my knowledge.
- Information and network. I learned about the funding crisis at the Library and Archives of Michigan through the OCGS membership in the Michigan Genealogical Council. I was able to share information with others and contact my representatives.
Without going into specifics, I believe that my perspective on new media and the internet, including the possibilities of new technologies for the dissemination of information may be at odds with the thinking of some Society members. That difference does not make the Society’s activities less valuable or relevant to me.
Since I am not a joiner at heart, a look my involvement in OCGS is a surprise to me. At this point in my life I have more time and energy to direct outward toward others than in the past. Without children to care for, or a job to occupy the majority of my time, I have chosen to give some of that time and energy to a cause I believe in.
I hope those of you who do not support a local society will examine your thinking, and ask yourself if you could benefit from such an association.