Generally, a family association is an organization formed by people
who share a common ancestor or surname. They join together for a variety
of purposes including exchanging genealogical information, sharing
current news about family members, having reunions, and promoting family
Some family associations strive to collect information about people with their surname
all over the world, while others consist of a relatively small family
group in a specific geographic area.
Some groups put a lot of effort into family research while others prefer
to concentrate more on family reunions and current family news.
Should I Join a Family Association?
Joining a family association isn't a requirement for researching your
family history, but it certainly can't hurt and may go a long way to
help. Here are a few reasons why:
Information Exchange Many family associations maintain
collections of their members' family trees, so there's a good chance
that you could find more information about your family when you join.
Family Newsletters Almost all family associations
put out some sort of newsletter, whether it's once a year, once a
quarter, or once a month. Newsletters can contain pedigree trees,
pictures, interesting tidbits about a family's history, announcements
of current births and deaths, information about upcoming reunions,
and even queries.
Reunions and Meetings Getting together with family
members once per year or once every several years can be a real boost
to your family history research. It's likely that you will have many
opportunities to do research, share information with others, and visit
locations that are historically significant to your family. It's also
great to spend time with people who share the same interests as you,
catch up with relatives that you haven't seen in a long time, and
even meet new relatives.
Research Advice If you are stuck on a particular research
problem, perhaps unique to your ethnicity, chances are that others
in your family have already been through it and may be able to offer
advice. If not, it can be fun to pool your resources and work out
a solution together.
How do I Find the Family Association That's Right for Me?
One of the best ways to find a family association is to ask other
family members if they belong to one or know of any that exist. If none
of your relatives are aware of one, here are a few other places to look:
Genealogy Publications National publications such
as Everton's Helper are good places to look, because some
family associations advertise in those. You may also want to check
in smaller, regional publications in the area where you ancestors
Directories Books listing family associations
are available through your local libraries and genealogy booksellers.
One example is Elizabeth Petty Bentley's Directory of Family
Associations, which contains contact information for over
5,250 different family associations.
What if I Can't Find a Family Association?
Keep looking, but also think about starting your own family association!
We've spoken with many people who have founded and/or currently help
run a family association, and they have plenty of advice to get you