On Thursday, October 3rd, 2019, fifteen NCGS members got together to discuss the book The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide by James Beidler. This was our very first Special Interest Group (SIG) meeting. A SIG is a chance for members to get together to talk, share, ask questions, and make connections. It is different than a Program Meeting where a guest speaker is giving a presentation and there is little time for members to interact.
Many genealogy societies have SIGs. Some are a repeating topic where they meet once a month just to talk about DNA. The Rochester Genealogical Society has a few Interest Groups: Computer, DNA, and a Writer’s Group. You can read more on their website: http://www.nyrgs.org/index.php. The Ontario (Canada) Genealogical Society also has SIGs. You can read more here: https://ogs.on.ca/branchessigs/special-interest-groups/.
I wasn’t sure of our membership’s interest in starting a SIG, so I wanted to start with a single topic rather than a recurring one. I decided to create a SIG that was a Book Discussion group. That way I could gauge the interest based off of attendance and feedback from our first meeting. With this format, we could select a book, read it, discuss it, then choose a new book to discuss the next time meeting 3-4 times a year.
I was very pleased and excited with the attendance! Thank you to those members that were able to join us on the 3rd! We began with going around the table to introduce ourselves and where in Germany our ancestors were from. Then we discussed how, if we knew, the area in Germany. Many of us have yet to find the home village, but those of us that did know had learned it from family telling us, church records, and immigration records.
We discussed things that we learned from the book such as if our German immigrants were first-wave or second-wave immigrants (the majority were second-wave). We then shared the part of the book where you learned something new. For me, the section on page 102 where the author talks about Rufnames and naming patterns really hit home with me and made me race to my tree to see if my German family followed the naming patterns as they certainly used Rufnames. We had time for questions to help share our collective knowledge and then, before we knew it, the hour was over. It went by so fast!
The group picked out our next two books for discussion. In March 2020 we will discuss The Family Tree Irish Genealogy Guide by Claire Santry and in June 2020 we will discuss The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy (Second Edition) by Blaine T. Bettinger.
We hope that you can join us! The SIGs are for members only. If you are not a NCGS member, please see our website and consider joining: http://niagaragenealogy.org/membership.html.
Contributor: Jeanette Sheliga of Lockport NY is Vice-President of the Niagara County Genealogical Society, Organizer of the North Tonawanda Library Genealogy Club and a member of APG (Assn of Professional Genealogists)