About Us

Our History

The Western Massachusetts Genealogical Society has been an organization since 1972 and we have been bringing quality programming to all of our members since our start. As a group and as individuals we are devoted to the research and documentation of our family ancestry and history. We also assist others in the pursuit of discovering their ancestry.

Home - Our MeetingsAgawam Senior Center

Monthly Meetings: We meet year-round on the first Wednesday of the month from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Agawam Senior Center, located at 954 Main Street, Agawam.  Our calendar and membership year is from September through August.

Speakers: The Society, since its beginning, has always engaged local, regional and nationally known speakers who share their broad experience to educate us and improve our research skills. Thanks to a strong inner circle of Genealogists, we have been able to get local speakers as well as national speakers in the field of genealogy. By using technology such as Zoom Online Meetings, we have brought national speakers to our meetings in Agawam.

Watch our meetings online: As stated by our president, Dave Robison, “Our primary goal in working so hard on the ‘virtual meeting’ technology is to bring premium programs to our Agawam meetings as a benefit to you, the members of WMGS.  The speakers are from all over the US and could even be in Europe, Australia…just about anywhere there’s an internet connection.  We have virtual presentations archived in our Members Only section of the website.  We intend to perfect the techniques to the extent that all our meetings will be in a format to make them available to all of our paid membership all the time.”

Listen to Local and National Speakers: One local speaker spoke to us on “Researching your French-Canadian Ancestors” and another, our own Hillary Schau spoke to us on “Organizing Your Genealogy Research”.  Two of our national speakers, Maureen Taylor and Russ Worthington spoke to us from their own homes on the big screen.  Russ Worthington spoke to us on the use of City Directories while Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, gave us hints on what to look for in old photos.  Make sure you check out our Newsletter for future speakers and their topics.

Network and Talk with Fellow Members: The monthly meetings are not all about the speakers though. Some of our past programs have been binder workshops which help members organize their work and understand the importance of citing the various sources. We also have had panel discussions, show and tell, open mic night, and field trips. The panel discussions are very popular because it gives members a chance to ask questions to our more experienced members. The open mic lets members talk about their research while the exclusive field trips allow members a chance to do some research at the Genealogy Library at the Springfield Museums.

Genealogy Research Clinics: Over the past couple of years we have added several Genealogy Research Clinics to our monthly schedule to help with your family research.

  • Our Research Clinics meet on the third and fourth Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Computer Lab at the Agawam Senior Center.
  • Besides expanding our Clinics to give you more time to search we’ve added The Library Edition of Ancestry.com as a tool for research.
  • When you attend you’ll find that those assisting you have years of experience in research and are extremely knowledgeable in the process

The Western Massachusetts Genealogical Society Board of Directors for 2018-2019 year is comprised of the following individuals.

Robison, DaveDave Robison serves as our President, is a past WMGS treasurer, vice president, and also serves on the Program Committee.  Dave also co-hosts our Thursday night Genealogy Research Clinics.  Dave owns Old Bones Genealogy of New England.  He does individual research for clients, and hosts various genealogy training sessions throughout New England.  Dave enjoys researching his Revolutionary War Patriot ancestors. He is a member of the Pomeroy Chapter of the Massachusetts Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (MSSAR) and is the chapter’s Registrar. His family tree data base includes over 46,000 “close” relatives.

20160217_155424-1Jeanne Leblond is our Vice President and as our WMGS Surname Coordinator, she maintains the list of surnames that our members are researching. Jeanne has been researching her French-Canadian and Slovak roots, as well as her extended family’s Acadian, Southern, and Italian lines for many years. Recently, she has begun to share her discoveries and her family’s history in a family blog.

Estelle Stasz is our Secretary.

Deb Woodford is our Treasurer. She is responsible for incoming funds, our P.O. box, membership, as well as our treasurers’ reports. Knowing her maternal family had immigrated from Sweden in the late 1880’s, Deb’s interest in genealogy was further sparked several years ago when an aunt gave her the old family Bible from her paternal family, prompting the trail of discovery to find they had all arrived in this country from England during the 1620’s and 30’s. Following the clues, asking questions, being curious, finding evidence, making connections, appreciating historical context – all of these are what fascinate Deb in her research.

Ginny Atwood is our Assistant Treasurer.  She is responsible for our expenses, our annual budget as well as all our state and federal fillings. 

Dave Lapierre is one of the Directors.  He is responsible for maintaining the WMGS website and assists with technology needs for our live events and webinars. Dave has worked in the Information Technology field for over 25 years. Dave joined WMGS  after attending a class presented by Dave Robison at the Springfield Museums.  He has  completed the Genealogical Essentials class offered by  Boston University.

Hillary Schau is one of the Directors and the newsletter editor for WMGS. She is a local Genealogical Researcher and speaker. She has presented classes in Chicopee, Holyoke, East Springfield, and here at WMGS on a variety of topics including Beginning Genealogy, Organizing your Genealogy, and Using RootsMagic. She also volunteers at the Chicopee Library Genealogy room. Hillary has completed the Boston University Genealogy program and is currently the Registrar for the Mercy Warren Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

   Edie Bowen-Wilcox is one of the Directors.