Many of us no longer live in the same area as the majority of our ancestors. That means that to find out more about those ancestors, we sometimes need to travel to the area. This isn’t always possible, of course, and I’m thankful when I find some records online. However, there are other avenues we can use if we want more information about our ancestors. I already mentioned local libraries but there are also local genealogy societies.
Most of the time, a simple search for the county or area genealogical society will get you what you need. There is also the Federation of Genealogical Societies which has a place for you to search for societies in the area you’re looking for.
Don’t forget about looking on social media as well! Facebook has many genealogy groups, and not just society groups either. There are groups for surnames, geographical areas, or even subject areas (like DNA).
I’ll give you a wonderful example of how a society helped me. I was looking for a probate record from Gaines, New York from 1832 recently. I found an index for the record on FamilySearch.org and wanted to know if the record itself still existed and where it would be. So I called the courthouse and I was then directed to the Orleans County Genealogical Society.
I searched online and couldn’t find a database so I decided to email the president of the society for help. About half an hour later, I had an email back! I was sent a link to an index, which answered my questions and gave me more information. I thanked the president for the information and got an email back asking if I wanted the records as they were already searching for them. I, of course, said yes! This conversation happened in the evening and I didn’t know that this was something the society had on hand. Within a few hours, the record had been scanned in and emailed to me! The complete record!
Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty!
Of course, not every society will be as active or as able to do something like the above example, but they are still wonderful resources of information that any genealogist could use! Some times, it can take quite a bit of time too. I mailed a question (and payment for what I was asking for) to a society and didn’t hear back from them for so long, I wrote off the check as missing. However, after I had forgotten about it, I got a wonderful file in the mail with everything I had been looking for!
Do any of you have stories of how a local genealogy group helped you in your search? Share below!