Whether you are just starting out or whether you just haven’t gotten around to it, joining a Family History or Genealogical society where your ancestors lived can be quite rewarding on many levels:
- Local Members typically grew up in the area and can provide insight to the area.
- Active Members are usually committed to the society and the area history. Many are willing to help out out-of-towners in their quest for knowledge. This resource is usually free or discounted to society members.
- Online databases, training, and other member ‘perks’. More and more societies are creating ‘Members Only’ sections, which allow members’ access to additional material. A good example of this is the Illinois State Genealogical Society. They have member files, alumni lists, and webinars that are available to members. Definitely worth the price of admission! (There is also a lot of free stuff for all). If you have Polish heritage, I recommend the Polish Genealogical Society of America. There are extras for members there, too.
- It’s a good start to network and gain information from others. Besides, you will be interacting with folks with the same passion as you, which is always wonderful.
And, of course, Google, is your friend! Search for a society near the town/location of your ancestor. Have a look around. Contribute via membership or volunteering. You will be glad that you did.
If you have already benefited from the help of a genealogical society, please feel free to comment and share your story.