Friday, November 24, 2006

Joining Your Local Family History Society

Hello All -

Sorry it has been awhile since I have posted here. I thought I would discuss in this post about family history societies. I can guess that most folks working on their family history have heard of these or know of them, but have not joined one. Being a member of a handful myself, I can try to shed some light on this for those who may not be sure if it is worth it or not.

They are groups of family historians who have an interest in a particular geographical area, such as a county, or live in that area. There are also special interest societies, for example a specific surname. You should definitely join your local society.

Most societies hold regular meetings - go along to these and join in their activities. You may also find it useful to become a member of those societies covering the areas in which your ancestors once lived. All societies produce journals and these will describe local records and history. Their members might be able to help with particular 'local research' problems, for example by visiting the churchyard to read your grandfather's gravestone for you. Belonging to a family history society will also enable you to contact others who are tracing the same surname that you are, in the area where your ancestor lived. (FFHS)

You can of course research your family tree without the benefit of joining a society. However, it would be most beneficial for you to join at least one family history society, to help and guide you towards your goal of compiling your family tree. It must be emphasied that the work of compiling your family tree is yours, unless you can afford a professional researcher. It is recommended that you should join a society in the area in which you live, and also one within your area of research.

Membership of your local society will provide the benefits of talks by experts in their field, the knowledge of others who may have experienced similar problems that you may encounter and a wealth of information from the society's own library. Joining a society within the area you are researching will provide contact with the people who know the area and may be able to assist you in your research. (FHSC)

Sometimes it can be a matter of cost of joining a society that can put people off, but I can say that they do not cost very much at all. The local family history societies do not charge much - roughly £12-£15 a year. The national societies such as the Scottish Genealogy Society charge a bit more for their yearly membership fee, but nothing too bad as it is worth it since you can use their research facilities as a benefit of membership.

Until Next Time -
Carolyn of MGS

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