The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

March 6, 2011

Make most of Genealogical Society membership


A membership in a genealogical society usually has many advantages. Joining a society in the geographic location where you live, besides providing support for the society itself, can usually benefit that member. Becoming involved with that organization enables one to network with others as well as attend workshops and other learning experiences. Beginners are usually greatly benefited by learning from the more experienced members of the group. Volunteering to assist in the organization’s library can enable the beginner to become more familiar with genealogy books and other materials at that facility.

A membership in a genealogical society located in the geographic vicinity where an ancestor lived also can be most helpful, especially if that member takes advantage of all resources available. For example, as one whose ancestors lived in New York, I maintained a membership in the NY Genealogical and Biographical Society for several years while I sent regular queries for free publication in the society’s quarterly, and requested free look-ups in that society’s holdings. (Many societies also encourage members to purchase materials and/or attend workshops at a reduced rate.)

More recently, a surname index to The Record (the NY society’s quarterly publication) is available free on the Internet and members can view the full text version of the articles from which the index was compiled. Thus, all back issues of that publication are now accessible to the society’s members — hundred of issues — at

Many other genealogical societies also are making their publications available on the Internet to their members (including back issues). Several societies are making databases available to members, as well as providing searchable indexes. Do you belong to such an organization?

But what about queries? There seems to be a definite decrease in the number of queries submitted to genealogical societies for their publications. Perhaps it is because there are so many places on the Internet where one can show an interest in a specific surname and advertising in a magazine might seem outdated. Not so! As long as members receive and read the quarterlies created by a genealogical society, any queries in that publication are also being read. Don’t short-change your own research by not submitting queries. The membership fee that you already paid enables you to reach many people in all parts of the country — both other subscribers and other societies/organizations that receive that publication.

Incidentally, queries are still welcome for this column. They, too, have declined in number, but can be effective if essentials are provided. Well-written queries should include name(s), date(s), place(s) and event(s). They can still be published free in this column.

Queries, as well as a general exchange of genealogical material that readers would like to share, will be printed in the column for free. Contact Joan Griffis by e-mailing