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What to do with the returns cash

Okay. Let’s all admit it. Come on. Say it out loud and get it over with.

Here… The Legal Genealogist will go first:

Not everything we got for a holiday gift was a hit.

Yep, folks, that soap-on-a-rope just isn’t quite the same after — what is it now? — 20 years or more. And that sweater from Aunt Mabel? Right. And that fruitcake… from the family fruitcake… Not my favorite.

So… we’re all going to be trying to figure out the virtual returns desk this week… and I have a suggestion for that cash we get in the returns.

Holiday cash

And it involves a little bit of our own genealogical returns: let’s all use the cash to pay back our state and local genealogical societies and return the favor for all the work they’ve done for us over the years.

Here at the end of 2022 — this third year impacted by this seemingly-endless pandemic — it’s time to recognize that so many of the societies we depend on for help and research information about our families have been hammered — absolutely flattened — by the closures and issues posed by this terrible pandemic. Many of them have incurred enormous costs pivoting to the virtual environment.

So if we can help — and that returns cash gives us the way to do it — it’s time to help.

Many — perhaps even most — genealogical society memberships run with the calendar year. So for those of us who’ve joined in the past, our member status will expire in just a few days. It’s time to renew.

For those of us who haven’t joined in yet… joining brings great benefits. First off, many state and local societies have print or e-published journals that are well worth reading. It always brings a smile to my face, I know, when I get home and the Virginia Genealogical Society Journal or the North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal is in my mailbox or emailbox. Or any of the others that come as benefits of my society memberships.

Secondly, most state and local societies have conferences and speakers and workshops that are well worth attending if we’re local (and conditions allow). Many have shifted to online presentations for the duration of this pandemic and are doing more and more webinars that benefit everyone, local or not. I’ve attended many a webinar that I thought was simply terrific — and was sponsored by a society I’m proud to be a member of, yet is so far away that I’m never likely to be able to attend a meeting even after this pandemic subsides and travel conditions return to normal. (Assuming they ever return to normal. Whatever “normal” is these days… Sigh…)

Finally, state and local societies are often the backbone of records preservation. They’re the boots on the ground that are listening for the first rumblings of a public record type being threatened or an archives or library with budget or staffing issues. They’re the ones who know where the records are, and help us and guide us when we travel to see the originals.

We need these societies to survive and to thrive. So, to start with, here — updated for our 2022 returns cash — are links to state genealogical societies (or, where there isn’t a statewide genealogical society per se, to the state historical society* in that area) throughout the United States:

State Societies
Alabama Kentucky North Dakota/Facebook (and see NDHS*)
Alaska* (and see AGS) Louisiana Ohio
Arizona* (and see WVGS) Maine Oklahoma
Arkansas Maryland Oregon (and see GFO)
California and SCGS Massachusetts (and see MGC) Pennsylvania
Colorado Michigan Rhode Island
Connecticut Minnesota South Carolina
Delaware Mississippi South Dakota
District of Columbia* Missouri Tennessee
Florida Montana Texas
Georgia Nebraska Utah
Hawaii* Nevada Vermont
Idaho New Hampshire Virginia
Illinois New Jersey Washington
Indiana (and see IHS*) New Mexico West Virginia*
Iowa New York Wisconsin
Kansas North Carolina Wyoming*

On a national level in the United States, check out the National Genealogical Society and the Virtual Genealogical Association. Or check out the New England Historic Genealogical Society, a big regional society.

And for links to societies in other countries and to the hundreds and indeed thousands of local genealogical societies that are working every day to preserve records in the small towns and out-of-the-way courthouses in places our ancestors called home, let me suggest Cyndi’s List and her societies categories. (By the way, donating to Cyndi’s List itself is something to consider too!)

Any of these would greatly benefit from our returns cash… and membership would be a fine gift to ourselves.

There. Don’t you feel better now?

Thought you would. I know I do…

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “The returns of the 2022 season,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 27 Dec 2022).

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