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My society wish list

Dear Santa,

With no small pangs of regret, I do realize that wrapping up cousins and putting them — or at least their DNA — under my Christmas tree may not be possible… or even legal in some states.

So despite the fact that yesterday’s DNA wish list is my priority,1 there are a few other things I’d love to have if you’re so inclined.

PensionsFederation of Genealogical Societies–Preserve the Pensions: First and foremost, Santa, I want a War of 1812 Pension. This massive ongoing digitization project is designed to preserve fragile records documenting more than 180,000 pension records for War of 1812 soldiers and their families. They are among the most heavily requested documents at the National Archives and, because of their use, they are in grave danger of deterioration.

Right now, FGS and its partners are concentrating on getting these records digitized to preserve them and make them freely available to the public for all time. Every dollar contributed means two pages of a pension file can be digitized — and with matching funds from, that becomes four pages saved.

So, Santa, if anybody asks you what I want for Christmas, tell ’em a War of 1812 pension file. It’s easy; folks can donate online.

For myself, Santa, well, you know I’m going to buy myself those Christmas gifts. The same ones every year. My entry into polite society. Or societies. Such as:

National Genealogical Society: Can’t live without my regular fix of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, edited by Thomas W. Jones CG, CGL, and Melinde Lutz Byrne CG, and the National Genealogical Society News Magazine, edited by Elizabeth Kelley Kerstens CG. And the NGS conference each year. And publications like Mastering Genealogical Proof and the Research in the States series and and and…

Association of Professional Genealogists: APG is also on my must-have membership list, Santa, for its APG Quarterly, its Professional Management Conference, and its webinar series, just to mention a few benefits of membership.

Illinois State Genealogical Society: My father’s family began its migration from the Old World to the New very late — in the 1880s, when his great aunt and uncle settled in Chicago. Ours is the classic story of chain, or serial, migration, ending with my grandparents and father coming to America in 1925 — and everybody ended up in Chicago. So for help with that research and for the webinar series and the journal, gotta have ISGS membership, Santa.

Now, Santa, you know it’s not so easy on my mother’s side, because we can document that her family has been in America since at least 16802 and residence in just about every state south of the Mason-Dixon line (and a few border states too).

That’s a lot of states, Santa… and I haven’t managed them all yet. So here’s my wish list of both current and someday societies, Santa, in case you need some ideas:

Alabama Genealogical Society: Offering the AGS Magazine and AGS Newsletter, a first families program and more.

Georgia Genealogical Society: Offering the Georgia Genealogical Society Quarterly, members-only records, and a monthly webinar series.

Kentucky Genealogical Society: Publishing Bluegrass Roots, offering Second Saturday workshops, and an annual seminar.

Mississippi Genealogical Society: For its annual seminar and its records publications, including some terrific information on cemetery and Bible records.

North Carolina Genealogical Society: Publishing the North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal and the NCGS News, offering twice-yearly seminars plus its Speakers Forum, plus webinars, plus…

Oklahoma Genealogical Society: Offering publications including the OGS Quarterly and the OGS Newsletter, a story writing contest, annual seminars and special events, with a first families program as well.

Tennessee Genealogical Society: With its Tennessee Genealogical Magazine, Ansearchin’ News, its blog, its seminars and its research help to members.

Texas State Genealogical Society: Publishing Stirpes, its quarterly magazine, running scholarship, archival grant and heritage programs, on top of meetings and seminars.

Virginia Genealogical Society: Offering the Magazine of Virginia Genealogy and the Virginia Genealogical Society Newsletter, with grant and awards programs, annual conferences and more.

And just for myself, Santa, since I live here, the Genealogical Society of New Jersey, with its Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey and its GSNJ Newsletter and its seminars, its collections, and all it does to support genealogy in my backyard.

So, Santa, what genealogy societies are on YOUR wish list this year?


  1. Judy G. Russell, โ€œAll I want for Christmas: DNA,โ€ The Legal Genealogist, posted 22 Dec 2013 ( : accessed 22 Dec 2013).
  2. November 1680, order as to Nicholas Gentry, York County, Virginia, Deeds, Orders, Wills (1677 โ€“ 1684) 6: 268; York County Microfilm reel 3, Library of Virginia, Richmond.
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