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I live in Oklahoma (USA), but all of my family research begins in Massachusetts (USA), then moves back from there to New Hampshire, Canada, and England.

Will joining my local Genealogical Society really be of any help to me, since most of their records are from Oklahoma and the surrounding states?

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Definitely! Local genealogy societies are great for networking with other genealogists, and other members may also be researching some of the same areas that you are. Societies usually also bring in speakers on a variety of genealogy topics.

The society may also have projects to help make local records more accessible to people who are researching your local area, but that's typically not the primary function of a genealogy society.

In a way, you can think of a genealogy society as a genealogy support group ;-)

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A local Genealogical Society could help with general research methodology, but I'd suggest joining the Genealogical Society(s) for the area(s) where your ancestors came from. Many of the Societies in the UK publish regular magazines, advise on research in their areas and will do lookups within records that are not online.

Another source of local UK "intelligence" that should not be overlooked are the geographical mailing lists in Rootsweb. Some are more active than others, but the active ones can be very helpful with local knowledge you can't access any other way.

  • I agree. I have found much more value in the societies of the location I am most interested in. I've joined local ones where I have no ancestors and found little value. – dotnetengineer Oct 12 '12 at 21:19
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    @dotnetengineer I have actually had the opposite result. My local genealogical society is 700+ members (in my municipality, this does not include the even greater membership provincewide), meaning they have a very large shared pool of knowledge and many people willing to encourage me and share research tips. Whereas, I've joined a local society in Ontario where my ancestors came from and this has been of little value. Their contact with me is almost non-existent and their newsletter is not useful. – Canadian Girl Scout Oct 12 '12 at 22:21
  • @Canadian Girl Scout, much will depend on how active an individual society is. – user104 Oct 13 '12 at 8:15
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Dae Powell has a great lecture on how genealogists tend to develop their networking practices. It has been a few years, but I related to his comments.

Joining a local genealogical society isn't just about accessing the local records. Societies offer assistance to those just starting out and opportunities to lecture for those who are a more experienced.

Local societies provide opportunities for you to give back in other ways, too. Most take a keen interest in record preservation, digitization and indexing. Even though you may not have much interest in those local records, you likely support the truly global initiative to save our sources.

Some local societies offer associate benefits--discounted subscriptions to online services. Check it out.

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My experience in interacting with local people interested in genealogy has been quite positive from a methodological perspective. I have learned a lot about tactics and something about sources simply by describing my tougher search goals and discussing and trying their approach to the problem.

Obviously people who know about the area of interest to you would be better able to provide source and factual information. But an experienced genealogist may be able to make informed methodological suggestions, and may be able to put you in touch with a domain expert in your area of interest.

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