by Bob Brooke
The number of historical and genealogical societies in the United States, alone, seems endless. Each can assist the family genealogist in many ways.
State historical and genealogical societies can be a great help tracking down information about ancestors in a particular state. The Ohio Genealogical Society, the first state organization to have chapters in various counties, correlated activities through the state society. The Illinois State Genealogical Society has made outstanding progress in the field of the historian's involvement with genealogical usage. Texas is so large that a state society has been thriving, and a great many societies have developed throughout the state. Utah has developed an excellent state society, and much activity has been generated due to the state's Mormon background. Also, the Northwest and the California areas have active societies.
Two other state societies are also notable -- The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society and The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania. The former publishes an excellent periodical, The Record, containing material relating to other states as well as New York. The latter offers Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine. The libraries of each of these societies are well supplied with books, and their manuscript collections are mines of genealogical data.
The South hadn't been as fortunate as the North in having well-established genealogical societies. However, it's gaining many societies today. Virginia has long had a genealogical society and it has published a quarterly for some time. The North Carolina Genealogical Society issues a splendid publication entitled The Journal. The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research serves the interests of upcountry South Carolina. Two journals serve Georgia--the privately published Georgia Genealogical Magazine and the Georgia Genealogical Society Quarterly.
Florida has active groups in Miami, Palm Beach, Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville. Since Florida's population is largely from outside the state, their interests are very diverse and not easily represented by Florida research. Alabama has a state society, Alabama Genealogical Society, Inc., which issues a publication each quarter entitled the Magazine. Also there are several local societies which publish good periodicals. Mississippi has several local societies, and there's a privately published journal, The Mississippi Genealogical Exchange.
Kentucky Ancestors is issued by the Kentucky Historical Society. The Tennessee Genealogical Society publishes Amsearchin News. Since there are three regions within the state of Tennessee, a diversity of interests is created. Louisiana has been fortunate in having two journals, The Louisiana Genealogical Register and The New Orleans Genesis. Arkansas Family Historian has contributed to resources for research of that state, and Oklahoma Genealogical Society Quarterly has been a mainstay for "the Sooners." There's also the St. Louis Genealogical Society Quarterly.
With so many publications, researchers should pinpoint the articles they wish to peruse which deal with their ancestors and the places where they lived. Most publications are carefully indexed in the Genealogical Periodical Annual Index, found in all genealogical libraries.
There are also ethnic historical societies like the Pennsylvania-German Society and the American-Jewish Historical Society. The Carpatho-Rusyn Society, of Pittsburgh, supports the cultural and genealogy interests of Carpatho-Rusyn Americans in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. The Polish Genealogical Society of America, headquartered in Chicago, collects, disseminates and preserves information on Polish and Polish-American family history. Its newsletter, The Rodziny, helps anyone doing research within the borders of the old Commonwealth of Poland.
Even some churches have historical societies. One of the most prominent is the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia. The American Association for State and Local History in Nashville, Tennessee, publishes a directory of these historical societies, which includes information on membership and the activities of the particular societies.