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.
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 our beginning, has always looked for speakers to share their thoughts and hints and we continue to do so today. 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. Through the technology upgrade of Skype and Google Hangouts 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 several virtual presentations archived in our Members Only section of the website. We hope 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 relies on many volunteers. Below you’ll find some information about many of the people who make WMGS possible.
Dave Robison serves as our WMGS President, is a past WMGS Treasurer and is responsible for scheduling all of our monthly speakers. Dave also 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 Ancestors, is awaiting an approval of his application to SAR (Sons of the American Revolution) and has a database with more than 41,000 “close” family members.
Jeanne 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.
Deb Woodford is our WMGS 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.
Katy Krause is our WMGS Assistant Treasurer. She is responsible for our Membership, as well as our finances and is part of the website redesign team. Katy also hosts our Genealogy Research Clinics. Katy enjoys researching her southern roots, as well as the Civil War. She is working on joining 2 Civil War lineage societies. One of her favorite aspects of genealogy is finding pictures relating to her ancestors.
Dave Lapierre is one of the Directors for WMGS. He became interested in genealogy and family history when his maternal grandmother moved in with the family, after Dave’s grandfather passed away. She enjoyed telling him stories of her life and adventures in the Canada, and how the family came to the United States. Dave became addicted to genealogy about 5 years ago, and joined the Western Mass Genealogical Society after attending a class presented by Dave Robison at the Springfield Museums. Dave is currently enrolled in the Genealogical Essentials summer session offered by Boston University, and is considering enrolling in the BU Certificate Program in Genealogical Research, later this year.
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).
Ellen Beauchane Janik is our WMGS Facebook Administrator. A member of the society for the past two years, she has been doing family research for eighteen years. The focus of her research is French, Irish, Polish and early English settlers to America. Ellen has a special interest in her military veteran ancestors especially from the Civil War. She also enjoys helping other family members and friends starting on their own genealogical path.
Susan Leverson is our WMGS Webmaster and host of our Genealogy Research Clinics. She has served as our Treasurer, and founded our electronic Newsletter for which she served as the editor for five years. Susan most recently led our Website Redesign Team to create the website you are now viewing. Susan enjoys researching her Polish ancestors. In particular, she has done extensive research with City Directories and records relating to the city of Chicopee. She also researches her husband’s Norwegian and French-Canadian ancestors.