25    May 20130 comments

Family History: The human connection

We are so fortunate to be living today, when so much family history - and essential documents and records - is accessible online.

However, not everything is online ... yet!

Keep checking and searching online - particularly with MyHeritage's new Record Detective technology - to see what's available to you.

However, there may be perplexing family history mysteries that you are trying to resolve, and family historians need to speak - in person - to other researchers, who may have faced similar problems in the past.

One of the best ways to do this is to join a local genealogical society, whose members include experienced researchers with knowledge in many areas and languages.

Most genealogical societies offer excellent programs with speakers addressing various topics, some of which may be exactly what you're looking for. They often have good research libraries with materials not on line, or out-of-print.

Societies are filled with enthusiastic, helpful people who really do like to welcome and help newcomers. Some groups undertake local indexing projects, which can benefit researchers around the world.

I've been at quite a few meetings where attendees went around the room introducing themselves and listing the families they were researching. Quite often, someone else was researching one of those families as well, and the two people were able to share research, resources and collaborate on their shared family history.

Your local society is a place to share your "a-ha!" and "happy dance" moments. Everyone there will understand your joy at discovering new information. They've already been bitten by the genealogy bug.

There are also opportunities to get involved in various ways, working on projects, taking on leadership roles, or even answering questions on local resources when emails, phone calls or letters arrive from other researchers. Many societies also take on local projects, such as recording cemetery inscriptions or listing other local records in databases accessible to those who now live far away from where their ancestors settled.

Genealogy societies are many, and their individual scope may cover ethnicity or religion. Many researchers belong to their local society, to one where their ancestors first settled and to another in the country or city from where their ancestors emigrated. Some historical societies also include genealogical components. While genealogists understand that history is part of genealogy, historians don't always agree with that concept, as I have discovered through the years.

You may want to attend genealogy conferences with some of your new friends. That's always a great way to meet the "names" in the field. Again, conferences may focus on specific ethnicities, religions or geographic areas. Some conferences run over six days, others may be two or three days long, while many are one-day events. Some are local, right in your own town, while others are international in nature.

No matter the focus or location, the reasons for attending are the same: To locate people looking for the same information you wish to find, to ask experts for the answers to questions and brick walls, and to learn about new resources and technologies.

Genealogical societies are found around the world. Check for them in your area, where you may find several (a city, county, state and/or ethnicity or religion).

Are you a member of a genealogical society, or more than one? If you are a society member, how has that group helped your research? What do you like about being a member of the group?

Share your experiences with us in the comments below, or on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. We look forward to hearing from you.

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