Saturday, July 25, 2015

Genealogical Societies & Groups

If you have yet to explore what genealogy groups and societies have to offer, here's a little guide to the various types out there.

First, there are societies devoted to research itself. You can find many devoted to specific geographic areas.

My personal favorite is the New England Historic Genealogical Society, the focus of which is obvious thanks to their name. NEHGS is more of a repository and publisher than a social group. They keep a huge variety of records at their library in Boston, as well as offer scans and transcriptions of those records through their website. They also offer a variety of publications - a magazine, journal, and newsletters. Membership in NEHGS is well worth the price for me, as it costs less than a subscription to a wider-reaching site, such as, but offers far more value for my specific interests.

So if you're looking for this kind of society in the area specific to your family history/research interests, try Google to locate one.

Facebook is a great place to find much smaller, online groups with a specific research focus. For example, try searching "Italian Genealogy" and you will find a wide variety of groups. It is very easy to join such groups. In the case of closed groups, it's just a matter of waiting for the moderator to approve your request for membership.

You can also find groups dedicated to general research, organizing your research, digitizing your records, and much more.

Most of us are probably very familiar with lineage societies, which concentrate on a particular surname or group of people.

Examples of this include the General Society of Mayflower Descendants and the various groups dedicated to researching the pilgrims who came over on that ship, such as the Alden Kindred of America. These are excellent groups to join if you want to focus your research on a specific ancestor or surname.

General and social genealogy groups and forums exist all over the internet.

A simple Google search will give you several results. Try using search terms for specific traits you would like to find in a group, such as genealogy writers or genealogists who are also cat lovers (alright - I don't know if the second one exists, but it might!). These are just a few examples. 

What do you look for in a genealogy group? What's a genealogical niche you wish was more fulfilled by groups or societies?

Genealogical Societies & Groups

Copyright (c) 2015 Wendy L. Callahan

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Guardianship & Adoption Resources

Something I'd love to learn more about is researching guardianships and adoptions, particularly in New England.

Over the years, I've discovered a few ancestors or collateral relatives who went through this process. Most of those discoveries were made through a lucky Google search that turned up their name. This usually isn't a topic we have to learn about until we encounter a question about where a family member ended up.

Sometimes this is a story we know from the start - that a grandparent was actually reared by an aunt or uncle, or another, unrelated family entirely. What isn't always known is whether or not there was a formal adoption. The first state to enact legislation on adoptions was Massachusetts in 1851. Even still, not every adoption was recorded, so finding formal paperwork on one in the 1880s is very much hit or miss.

This is a topic I'd really love to learn more about - what resources exist online? Offline? (I know the Massachusetts Archives has adoptions available at their facility.) What criteria did a person have to meet to obtain guardianship? For those who were not formally adopted, but still changed their name, was this just something they could do without it really being an "issue"? (It seems like it was just fine for people to take the name of the family who cared for them, without filing paperwork in court.)

Is finding adoptions a matter of luck or skill, or - like so many aspects of genealogy - a little bit of both?

Copyright (c) 2015 Wendy L. Callahan