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Utilizing Genealogy Societies

Genealogy societies are an important resource for learning more about your ancestor.


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Resource: GenWeekly
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Typically, for most genealogists, the usual progression for a research project includes identifying the ancestor we want to focus on and then looking at our favorite web sites to see what 'hits' we can get from typing that ancestor's name. After a search of web sites that include census, military, immigration and vital records resources we start to consider what other repositories might hold the records we need. A list of possibilities should include public libraries, university libraries, state archives and libraries, health departments or recorders offices, museums, archives, historical and genealogy societies. The local genealogy society in the area where your ancestor lived can be helpful in identifying what records exist, research that has been done, and providing records with your ancestor's name.

Where can you find a genealogy society for the area you are researching? One place to try is the web site Historical and Genealogical Societies at Although not a complete listing of all societies, you can search by state and then will be directed to a list of historical and genealogical societies and links to their web sites. Another site that lists genealogy societies is Society Hill at The U.S. Genweb,, is a great place to learn about the county you are researching and what resources exist locally.

Some states may have a state genealogy society or alliance of genealogy societies. These societies should be consulted as well as the local city or county genealogy society. In California, there is the California State Genealogical Alliance, , that provides an online search engine for historical and genealogical societies located in California's 58 counties. Many states have state-wide genealogy societies. Some examples are the following:

Alabama at

Arizona at The Family History Society of Arizona - Arizona Genealogical Soci

Delaware Genealogical Society at Delaware Genealogical Society

Florida at Florida State Genealogical Society

Illinois at Home Page

Idaho at

Indiana at Indiana Genealogical Society

Iowa at Iowa Genealogical Society

Kansas at Kansas Genealogical Society

Louisiana at Louisiana Genealogical and Historical Society

Minnesota at

Missouri at Missouri State Genealogical Association

Nebraska at Nebraska State Genealogical Society

New Jersey at The Genealogical Society of New Jersey (GSNJ)

New Mexico at New Mexico Genealogical Society

New York at The New York Genealogical & Biographical Society

North Carolina at North Carolina Genealogical Society

North Dakota at

Ohio at The Ohio Genealogical Society

Oregon at Oregon Genealogical Society

Pennsylvania at

Rhode Island Genealogical Society at

South Carolina at

Tennessee at

Texas at

Tri State Genealogy Society (South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana) at

Virginia at Virginia Genealogical Society

Washington at Washington State Genealogical Society

West Virginia at

Wisconsin at

After you find the genealogy society that can help you, see if it has a web site that details what resources it has and what research it will conduct. Make sure when you write to a genealogy society that you are not too vague like writing and asking for "any information you have on Jacob Brown." The Society is not going to do your research for you; it will, however, do a look up for information that you request. It's always better to be specific and to the point. An example of a letter to a society follows:

Your County Genealogy Society

P.O. Box 1111

Your City, State 11111

August 21, 2007

Dear Genealogy Society Member,

I am conducting research on a Jacob Brown and his wife Edith Sween. Jacob was born on 20 October 1880 in Colorado. He died on 21 May 1945 in Your City. I understand from your web site that your records include the Lanterman Funeral Home Records. Would you please search for Jacob or his wife Edith in those records.

I am enclosing a $10.00 check to cover your research fee. Please feel free to e-mail me at I appreciate any help you can provide in this matter.

Thank you for your help.

Feel free to include any information about other resources you have consulted as a way to let them know what you have checked so they don't check the same thing. You can also attach a pedigree chart. It might be a good idea to send a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) to make it easier for the society to respond.

Writing a letter to a genealogy society is a lot like writing a genealogical query for a message board. Some examples of writing good genealogy queries can be found at and .

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2007.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.

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