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Genealogical, historical, lineage, veteran, and ethnic societies often collect, transcribe, and publish information that can be helpful to genealogists.
Lineage societies, such as the DAR, Colonial Dames, and the Sons of the American Revolution, require members to prove they are descended from people such as colonists or soldiers. The applications for membership in these societies are usually preserved and occasionally published. National lineage societies such as the DAR are described in the "Societies" section of the United States Research Outline.
Genealogical and historical societies can provide historical information about families in the area or ancestors of society members. They may sponsor such activities as The History of Illinois Centennial Farms and Applications for Illinois Prairie Pioneer Certificates, cited in the "Genealogy" section.
Most genealogical societies focus on local and regional records, while others concentrate on the records and migrations of ethnic groups or minorities.
Societies may guide you to useful sources, suggest avenues of research, put you in touch with other genealogists who are interested in the same families, or perform research for you. The resources of the society may be helpful in determining immigrant origins. Genealogical and historical societies occasionally publish transcriptions of original records. Most publish quarterly periodicals, a few of which are listed in the "Periodicals" section.
Some genealogical and historical societies hold conferences in which lecturers discuss genealogical research methods, available sources, and other topics of interest to the genealogist. These lectures may include information on records or research helps on a local, regional, or national level. Transcripts, audio tapes, or syllabuses of the class outlines of these conferences are often made available to the public through the sponsoring society.
Many counties and some cities have historical and genealogical societies, most of which will be listed in the Directory of Illinois Museums and the book by Reithmaier, both cited in the "Archives and Libraries" section. See the "Societies" section of the United States Research Outline for a national directory of genealogical and ethnic societies.
See the "Minorities" section for other directories of ethnic organizations.
Family associations and surname societies have been organized to gather information about ancestors or descendants of specific individuals or families. See the "Societies" section of the United States Research Outline for a directory and more information about these societies.
Clubs or occupational or fraternal organizations may have existed in the area where your ancestor lived. Those societies may have kept records of members or applications that may be of genealogical or biographical value. Though many of the old records have been lost, some have been donated to local, regional, or state archives and libraries. The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) is an example of an organization an ancestor may have joined. See the "Military Records" section for a discussion of their records.
Public librarians and county clerks may be aware of other local organizations or individuals you can contact for information and services. In many small communities, the elderly are a wonderful resource for history and memories. Some maintain scrapbooks of obituaries and events in the community.
Information about society records and directories can be found in the Family History Library Catalog by using a Place Search under:
ILLINOIS- GENEALOGY- SOCIETIES
ILLINOIS, [COUNTY]- SOCIETIES
ILLINOIS, [COUNTY], [TOWN]- SOCIETIES
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