Joining Genealogy Societies

Before attending my first big genealogy conference in 2013, I had no idea of the number of genealogy and historical societies in existence. They come in all shapes and societies, covering a wide variety of ethnic groups and geographical areas–the world, in fact! Since this discovery I have joined at least 15 different societies. Why? Good question… and I have a pretty good answer.

Genealogical and historical societies are the caretakers of the records of the past. They preserve and share unique collections and databases, at times only accessible to members. The journals and newsletters they produce are full of wonderful stories and information pertinent to the area or ethnic group they represent. Besides sharing information, some journal articles are designed to teach methodologies, to demonstrate quality research. Most societies sponsor seminars, workshops, conferences, webinars, etc., all for the purpose of advancing the goals of genealogists everywhere. Often, society membership means a discount in event registration and on purchases at their store, if there is one.

Most of the societies I have joined are located hundreds, even thousands, of miles away from where I live. Even so, I have found my membership to be invaluable. Joining a society near me has provided me a chance to give back to the genealogical community through volunteerism, but there are many other rewards for membership. I have joined societies for every different state, sometimes county, in which my ancestors lived in order to have access to their special collections and to connect with others in the society who may have shared lineage with me. I have joined ethnic societies to help learn more about my ancestors’ customs, language, and life in their ancestral homeland. I have joined lineage societies to prove my research and to support their missions. I have joined professional societies in order to advance my efforts in developing a part-time business doing something I love.

If you are at all interested in family history research, I definitely recommend joining a society in your area, or anywhere your ancestors lived. You may even find family you never knew you had!

Every Journey Has Its Bumps

I don’t know if it is Murphy’s Law, but it seems that no matter how you travel or where you go, you are bound to experience a few bumps along the way. Maybe your flight is delayed, or there is turbulence, or your luggage doesn’t arrive when you do. Maybe you accidentally take a wrong turn, miss an exit, or hit a few potholes. Maybe you get sick at the most inopportune times. What is life without its bumps?

My journey to certification with BCG (Board for Certification of Genealogists) is now almost eight months long. Before attending the 2019 FGS Conference in Ft. Wayne, IN, a few weeks ago, I was feeling pretty good about my research progress. My one area of concern had to do with my case study, so I went by the BCG booth and asked about it. Here comes the big bump!

My case study topic, while an interesting and worthwhile one for our family’s information, does not qualify as a case study for my portfolio. Ugh! I was afraid of that! Wait, was that a bump, or did I actually lose a tire?  What to do? Replace the tire and move on, of course.

Choosing the topic for one’s case study is often the most difficult part of any certification journey, or so I’ve been told. This is definitely true in my case. I am still trying to find that perfect “tire”–one that fits the BCG criteria for a case study, one that is new, one that will take me all the way to the end of this road to certification. In the meantime, I have other writing I can do. And… if need be, I can always request an extension. Thank you, BCG!


First Day of Fall

Happy Autumn, to all!  One of the purposes for my blog is to share topic ideas for writing one’s life story. I think it can be overwhelming, intimidating even, to sit down in front of a blank computer screen or a blank piece of paper and try to write your entire life story from your earliest memory to the present. Writing in chunks is easier, and writing prompts can aid in that writing. So… as today is the first day of fall, what are your feelings or memories about this season? Which season is your favorite? Why?

Fall is my most favorite season. It signals the end of summer’s unrelenting, unbearable heat. (Hallelujah!) It means that school is in session. (I am one of those people who always looked forward to school.) It brings to mind all the days when I walked or rode a bus to school as a child, driving my car to high school, college days, and all of those First-Day-of-School feelings I had when I met my students for the first time each year. I love the changing of the colors on the trees. I love to watch the leaves drift down to the ground in a light autumn breeze. I love the breeze! I love the crunching sound as I stomp on piles of leaves that collect on the road. I love the musky smell of the dew in the mornings. I look forward to Thanksgiving and the special way it has of bringing families together, one way or another. I enjoy the warm, aromatic tastes of fall foods–fresh-baked breads and cookies, soups and stews, roasts in the oven. Autumn is definitely a sensory experience!

I hope this inspires you to Show Your Tale!

Proving Our Mayflower Descendants

Shout out to all my Olson/Church cousins! With the approach of the 400th anniversary in 2020 of the Mayflower landing, I decided I would work on my lineage papers to the Society of Mayflower Descendants. The New England Historical and Genealogical Society (NEHGS), of which I am a member, is making every effort to help the thousands–nay, millions–of descendants  of Mayflower pilgrims identify and verify their descendancy. Since my DAR application has already been verified and accepted, I didn’t see the link to our Mayflower ancestor, John Howland, as being much of a stretch. I submitted my Preliminary Review Form and my Preliminary Application to the California Chapter of Mayflower Descendants.

I am happy to report that I have received my official Application for Membership to the Society of Mayflower Descendants completed for the first seven generations, through our ancestor Solomon Lewis (1750-1839). Generations 8-13, from Lydia Lewis (1785-1873), wife of Asa Church (1788-1857),  to me, comprise the research and references I used for acceptance into DAR. I have the documents and references for all the vital events of each generation, some more derivative than others. With any luck, I will be able to use the same documentation for proving our Mayflower connection and satisfy eligibility requirements for the Society of Mayflower Descendants.

It makes me chuckle every time I think of my mother’s answer to my queries as a child about her ancestors. “Oh… we’re Heinz57,” she would always say, and end it at that. Well, I am finding out we are much more, and I am proud of our ancestral heritage. I have always loved this country, but knowing more details of the role our ancestors played in its early days increases that feeling ten-fold, at least.

As I learn more about my ancestors, their trials and sacrifices, their successes and celebrations, I am more and more in awe. We come from great stock. People of the land, mostly, but proud, courageous, patriotic people who helped make this country great. Those qualities are inherent in every one of us, my dear cousins. Our ancestors are a part of us, and we are a part of them. I LOVE GENEALOGY!!