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.
- In addition, we offer a Research Clinic that is held during the day on the second Tuesday of the month from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.
- 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.
Ann McDougal is our WMGS Secretary. She is responsible for taking the minutes at our meetings, and for handling our non-profit filings. Ann is interested in researching both Revolutionary War and Loyalist ancestors. She enjoys collaborating with her daughter in their family research. As enlightening as computer searches are, she would rather visit a library any day.
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.
Dawn ’Dee’ Pederson has been a member for a little over two years; but in those two years has become a vital part of WMGS. She’s been responsible for many of the new changes that members of WMGS have wanted. She’s designed WMGS’s new logo, the meeting name tags, updated the membership application, helped with the new look of the newsletter, is helping with the redesign of the website, and many other things for WMGS. She enjoys ‘Paying It Forward’ and researching her Danish, Norwegian, and Austro – Hungarian ancestors.
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.
Fran Malone is our WMGS Vice President and prior to that he served as our President. He is also one of our hosts at the Thursday night Genealogy Research Clinics where he has helped numerous members of our society find their way to their past. Fran’s experience in genealogy research covers 32 years and even though his strengths are in French Genealogy Research and his own Irish Heritage he will help anyone that is in need of help. Fran is also a Veteran and he likes to uncover that Veteran in the family that no one knows about. If successful he will advise and assist you in the direction to get the information needed. Fran currently has a database of 10,700 family names which include direct family and connecting families.
Jeanne Leblond is a member of our Board of Directors 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.
Katy Krause is our WMGS 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.
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.