Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
A genealogical society (or genealogy society) is an organization comprised of people who share a common interest in the history of a particular area and the genealogy of families within a that area. A genealogical society may also be centered upon a particular ethnicity or family group. Individuals who share that interest may join the group by simply paying an annual membership fee. Genealogical societies differ from heritage societies in that one is not required to prove ancestral lineage to qualify for membership. Genealogy societies typically hold regular meetings and often host instructional conferences and seminars.
Genealogical societies have made great contributions to the availability of genealogical information worldwide. Society members actively seek to gather, protect and preserve historical information within the organization's area of interest. Historically, the work and publications of genealogical societies provided the foundation for much genealogical research, prior to the Internet. http://www.newenglandancestors.org/, founded in 1845, is the country's oldest genealogical organization. http://www.gensocietyofutah.org/, established in 1894, is an incorporated, non-profit educational institution entirely funded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). Its mission is gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical information throughout the world, and is responsible for much of the microfilmed records available through the Salt Lake Family History Library. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/, a non-profit organization founded in 1903, is "the premier national society for everyone from the beginner to the most advanced family historian," aimed at establishing and promoting the highest standards of ethical research principles and scholarly practices in genealogical research.
Today, with the advent of the Internet, many local genealogy societies struggle to survive as more and more records go online and people rely less on the work and publications of genealogy societies to meet their research needs. Internet message boards and the influx of new "social networks" have even supplanted the "community" of genealogists that, in the past, drew people to genealogy societies. But with the support of dedicated and grateful researchers, tomorrow's genealogical societies will, no doubt, find new ways for to contribute and remain viable.