Saturday, September 7, 2013

Love Your Society

During my recent research trip, I visited the libraries of three local genealogical societies. The volunteers who manage and run these facilities are such a blessing to the genealogical community.

One of the most valuable services that most societies provide is the obituary collection. They clip or copy the obituaries from local papers, index them and file them. I was amazed to find an obituary for a female ancestor who died in 1879. I never would have looked at microfilm for it, but it was in the index of the local society. What a special find!

From each society, I walked away with copies of obituaries for previously unknown cousins. Two of the societies had information that taught me about churches that my ancestors might have attended. At two of them, I was able to find new information in their microfilm collections.

At the society in tiny Versailles, Illinois, I was browsing the surname books on the shelves. I hesitated at Icenogle and started to pull it out, then slid it back in. The gentleman who runs the library asked why I was interested.

A dear friend is an Icenogle descendant, and I had done some research for her on another line. But I didn't want to get distracted from my mission. The man told me he was also an Icenogle descendant and had written the book on the shelf. We looked, and my friend's branch isn't in his book. I gave him some information that I had and took his card to share with my friend. What an amazing coincidence!

Something all local societies need is money. Many ask for a donation when you use their library. I try to give more than they ask. See if they are selling a book, newsletter or merchandise that would be useful to you. Buy something, become a member or donate generously. I did something to support each of the three, because I love these local societies and want them to survive.

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