Historical Societies: The often overlooked source for valuable information

One area in genealogical research often overlooked is historical societies for individual research purposes. While staffing of such organizations is often limited, a clear and concise question can sometimes lead to exciting results.

Frequently staffed by volunteers who have an expert knowledge of the community, they can be knowledgeable about local records, such as vital statistics, court and church records, and can cut through the red tape that the non-resident may encounter when addressing agencies and associations directly.

Membership to organizations like the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society and the Genealogical Society of New Jersey and the Suffolk County Historical Society can also provided support for individual research assistance.

Membership to Historical societies can be added value to the genealogist, particularly in the era of modern technology. Currently, through a membership to the NYGBS one has access to the Fold3 database, which has many of the archival records of NARA — this exciting database provides access to war records from the Revolution through World War II which can contain vital information to assist in determining the ancestor’s war records and experiences therein.

Likewise, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania with membership offers access to Genealogy Bank and ancestry.com®. An exciting new database is the Oliver H. Blair Funeral Home Index, containing genealogical information from 1920 to 1980. The database includes records from around the Philadelphia and southeast New Jersey areas. These types of localized sources can be invaluable to researchers, particularly when other records have proven unsuccessful. Join them, use their services, and promote their activities to other genealogists.

Michael Wrona
Vice President