Genealogical, historical, lineage, veterans, fraternal, family name, and ethnic societies often collect, transcribe, and publish records useful to family historians. Local genealogical societies often help family history researchers contact local record searchers or copy records that mention the researcher’s ancestors. A current list of archives and libraries can be found in the "Archives and Libraries" section. Some of these organizations have their own Internet sites. You can also find local society addresses by using directories cited in the "Societies" section of the United States Research Outline.
A list of Alabama Genealogical and Historical societies and the titles of their periodicals is on pages 51–54 of Researching in Alabama: A Genealogical Guide by Marilyn Davis Barefield, Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1987. (Family History Library book 976.1 D27b.) This book has a chapter about records that can help you research in the “burned counties.” Maps show the Mississippi Territory in 1800, 1808, 1809, 1812, and 1815 and Alabama Territory in 1818. The book includes information about valuable records collections in various libraries and archives.
Genealogical and historical societies often maintain a file for historical families of the area or for ancestors of society members. Most genealogical societies focus on local and regional records, but some 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 useful 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 of this outline.
Some genealogical and historical societies hold conferences where 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 class outlines from conferences are often made available to the public through the sponsoring society.
Family associations and surname societies have been organized to gather information about ancestors or descendants of specific individuals or families. Some seek out information on persons with a specific surname. See the "Societies" section of the United States Research Outline for a directory and more information about these societies.
Clubs and 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 "Civil War" section of the U.S. Military Records Research Outline for a discussion of their records.
Public librarians and county clerks may be aware of other local organizations or individuals that can be contacted for information and services. In many small communities, "old timers" are a wonderful resource for history and memories. Some maintain scrapbooks of obituaries and events in the community.
Lineage societies, such as the Daughters of the American Revolution, Colonial Dames, General Society of Colonial Wars, and Sons of the American Revolution, require members to prove they are descended from certain people, such as colonists or soldiers. The applications for membership in these societies are preserved and many are on microfilm at the Family History Library. In Alabama there are many members of national lineage societies. These societies are described in the "Societies" section of the United States Research Outline.
To learn of Alabama genealogical societies that have records and services that may help you, contact:
- Alabama Genealogical Society
P. O. Box 2296
800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, AL 35229-0001
Internet address: http://homepage.mac.com/jpashin/AGS.htm
For genealogical and historical societies that have records and services to help you with your research, also see the "Archives and Libraries," "Church Records," and "Periodicals" sections of this outline. Many counties also have local historical and genealogical societies.
For societies in Alabama at the town, county, and state levels, see the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
ALABAMA, [COUNTY]- SOCIETIES
ALABAMA, [COUNTY], [TOWN]- SOCIETIES
ALABAMA- GENEALOGY- SOCIETIES
Ethnic societies may also be found under:
UNITED STATES- MINORITIES- SOCIETIES