The mail lady used to be one of my favorite people! She used to bring all kinds of genealogical treasures. Besides the letters from county courthouses and genealogical queries, she brought all the periodicals.
Before the internet, periodicals were an easy way to obtain a genealogical education. In fact, it was one of the only ways unless one lived very near a major city that had a large genealogy library.
When I say “periodicals,” they came in a variety of forms. First would be what I consider scholarly journals and the articles I found in them had well sourced, footnoted facts.
I have been a long time member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and The Register was probably my favorite item in the mail. With all of my New England roots, many of the issues had articles about my ancestors. I learned to cite my sources way back then. I also actually read the footnotes to find out where the authors had found such terrific information. Footnotes actually opened my newbie eyes to the variety of genealogical sources and records that were available.
I still belong to NEHGS today, but read the Register digitally online. It just isn’t the same as discovering it in my mailbox, but it remains an excellent learning tool.
For a handful of years, I was a member of the National Genealogical Society. They, too, publish an excellent journal – The NGS Quarterly.
Being a national society rather than a localized genealogical society, the Quarterly articles focus on families across the United States. For a reasonable membership fee to NGS, the Quarterly continues to be an educational tool for all genealogists.
Another top notch journal was/is The American Genealogist.
An aside – I just learned something new here – I didn’t even realize that this journal was still in publication, but there is a website that even has a list of PDF tables of contents to journals so the reader can see what they are missing. Hmmm. I might have to subscribe to TAG once again.
I highly recommend any of the above journals as a tool to develop research skills. The side benefit is discovering that someone else has solved a difficult research problem for you. 🙂
One step down from the scholarly journals are the publications from state genealogical societies. I describe them as one step down, not because of quality, but because these publications usually include a mix of well-sourced articles, family stories and Bible records, queries, news and assorted miscellaneous tidbits.
I don’t currently belong to any state genealogical societies, but in the past, I have been a member of the Virginia Genealogical Society, Ohio Genealogical Society, Missouri State Genealogical Association, Tennessee Genealogical Society and Kentucky Genealogical Society.
Each of these societies includes a publication with membership and I learned a lot from reading all the articles – about surviving tax lists in a burned county, repository locations of family Bibles, how to tackle difficult research problems, what new reference books are being published and much more. Some state societies have digitized their earliest issues and have them freely available online. Membership is required to view the current issues, but, again, well worth the yearly fees, which are reasonable.
Next, there are local genealogical societies at the town or county level. I’m currently a member of the Pima County Genealogy Society here in Tucson.
I would generally describe local society publications as newsletters. Many of these organizations are small and use blogs and websites to share their news. Local society newsletters are like small scale versions of state society publications. Members can submit articles and the topics cover a wide range – stories about their own ancestors, conferences attended, technology news, book reviews and local items of interest.
There is one other type of periodical that gave help educate you – genealogy magazines. In the “old” days, I watched for the new issue of The Genealogical Helper to arrive at my mailbox.
The Genealogical Helper is no longer in publication, although there are limited back issues available from Family Roots Publishing.
However, there are a couple of magazines, not affiliated with any society, available by subscription or in a book store. One is Internet Genealogy, which will keep you up to date with the latest websites and news. Another is Your Genealogy. Both are owned by Moorshead Publications. These are both U.S. based magazines, but I have seen a few magazines published in other countries, so it is worth looking into that resource, too.
Most of the oldies but goodies, available back when I first began researching are still in publication today. If you are in a genealogy library that has a collection of old periodicals, take the time to learn what the collection holds.
As I wrote this post, I’ve motivated myself to take a look at which periodicals I’d like to find in my mailbox today. The mailman might once again become one of my best friends. I hope I’ve motivated you to investigate some for yourself. One can never go wrong with education.