Time travel as close as your local cemetery.

Help is a meeting away

February 9, 2014 / by davidwalton

Have you ever thought about joining a local genealogy society? Before joining my local chapter, I first did a little online detective work. I wanted to know what to expect and how joining a group could help me in my own genealogical search.

Kathleen Hinckley, an author, lecturer and Certified Genealogical Records Specialist, gives 10 reasons (http://www.genealogy.com/74_kathy.html) on how joining a genealogical society membership impacted her life:

  • I was no longer alone
  • I learned new research skills
  • I learned how to evaluate genealogical software
  • I improved my skills in reading old handwriting
  • I learned from other members
  • I gained an appreciate of other local societies
  • I gained experience in using a new record type
  • I developed leadership skills
  • I did not find a cousin, but someone else did
  • I developed lifelong friendships

Hinckley made a pretty convincing case so I located my local chapter online — Southern Indiana Genealogical Society (SIGS) — and mailed my $15 membership fee which entitles me to the group’s bi-annual publication.

The group covers seven southern Indiana counties: Clark, Floyd, Harrison, Orange, Perry, Scott and Washington. Members meet the first Thursday of every month at the local library.

I attended my first meeting on Thursday, February 6. Because of icy weather conditions, attendance was down and there was no guest speaker. The meeting kicked off with introductions, and how and why each member became interested in genealogy. Then, because there was no special guest, the meeting was changed to an open discussion format to allow members to review any research related issues.

Members of the Southern Indiana Genealogical Society observe Donna Kepley Foster's (center) family history book which uses the Ahnentafel charting system.

Members of the Southern Indiana Genealogical Society observe Donna Kepley Foster’s (center) family research which uses the Ahnentafel charting system.

A couple of the members (Donna Kepley Foster and Norma Wendell Lincoln) have been researching their family’s history since 1989 and 1990, respectively. Norma lives in Corydon, IN, which is where relatives on my mother’s side originated from. When I mentioned the name Gilmore during my introduction (that was the last name of my great great grandfather and namesake), Donna told me there was a book at the Corydon Library on the Gilmore family. Good information I can use in my research!

Tina Price shares a family heirloom — a bible that belonged to her great 5X grandfather — with fellow genealogist Bob Sterrett. The book is handed down to the first female born in each generation of Price’s family as each generation passes.

Other members present included board treasurer Tina Price, who shared a Bible that once belonged to her grandfather five generations back; Alice Fredricksson who’s also a board member and genealogy historian at the Jeffersonville, IN, library; Bob Sterrett who shared names and dates from his research; and Virginia Thomas Reese, who, like me, is a new member and is trying to find out the history of a house that once stood in her neighborhood.

Donna will be making a presentation next month on genealogical software including Family Tree Maker, Master Genealogist, RootsMagic and others. She also shared her ancestry research and how she is using the Ahnentafel system (http://www.familychronicle.com/Ahnentafel.html), which is a numbering structure where each person in her pedigree is assigned a number.

The thing I liked most about the meeting was how the members made me feel so welcome. I left the meeting knowing that if I ever run into any research issues I have a pool of people I’ll be able to ask for help.

I am looking forward to the next meeting in hopes I can take away more tips and best practices.

There are hundreds of genealogical societies across the United States. To find one near you, visit the Federation of Genealogical Societies, http://www.fgs.org.

Until next time…



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