In early 1995, Ed Parker (our founder) and Janice Morgan, both of Mason, Michigan had an idea - ‘was there enough interest in the area to form a new genealogical society.’
With encouragement from genealogist Shirley J. Hodges and William Atkinson, both members of the Mid-Michigan Genealogical Society, a group of seven persons met in May 1995 and decided to spread the word with phone calls and handbills calling for an open public meeting the following month.
On June 14, 1995 an organizational meeting was held at the Kiwanis Village Community Center in Mason, with a group of 13 persons present.The name, Ingham County Genealogical Club was chosen, but later changed to Society.
Janice Morgan was nominated as President and Bernice Collins as Recording Secretary and Treasurer. Meeting dates were set for the 2nd Wednesday of the month (later changed to 2nd Thursday). The annual membership dues of $7.50 were set and a By-Laws Committee was appointed, with the fiscal year of October 1 to September 30 established. Meetings were held at the Mason Church of Christ.
At the beginning of the second fiscal year, our membership increased to 44 members and the meetings were held at the Vevay Township Hall Community Room, on the 2nd Thursday of each month. The society registered with the State of Michigan and made application to the Internal Revenue Service as a “Non-Profit, Tax-Exempt Organization, and was granted that status in 1997.
The election of officers has always been held at the October meeting, with each serving a one-year term. New officer positions of Vice President, Membership Secretary and two Trustees had already been added in 1996, and, the following year, a librarian was added for the newly established society research room. The research room was located on the Mason Public Library, on the second floor, in a room 12’ by 18’ in size. The first librarian was Past-President Joyce Darrow. This is the crown jewel of the society, with an active group of volunteers that keep the room open every Wednesday, from noon to 4:00 pm, and maintain a vast assortment of records and genealogical indexes.
Continued interest in family research, thanks to the television series, “Roots,” and a great effort on the part of our officers to make the monthly meeting informative and fun, helped push the society membership to over 135 members.
On Saturday, November 13, 1999, the society held their first genealogical seminar at the City of Mason Community Hall, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. The program speakers were Shirley J. Hodges and Jana Sloan Broglin. The cost was $15 which included lunch. A reported $700 profit was made. A lot of society volunteers worked many hours to make it a success.
A second genealogical seminar was held on Saturday, October 28, 2000, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, at the Holiday Inn Express Conference Center in Okemos, Michigan.
Program speakers were Shirley J. Hodges and Curt Witcher. The cost per person was $25 which also included lunch. A large attendance and profitable event.
Starting in 1998, the society microfilmed four small town weekly newspapers - the Ingham County News, the Ingham County Democrat, the Williamston Enterprise and the Stockbridge Sun. Hundreds of reels of film were donated to our society research room and to the Library of Michigan. Funding was received from the Mid-Michigan Genealogical Society, the Abrams Foundation and society fund raising efforts.
Other major microfilming projects were completed from 2002 through 2008 and involved records and documents from all of the 16 Ingham County Townships, city and small towns.
A society website was established, sharing a site with the Mid-Michigan and Eaton County Genealogical Society. Several years later member, Greg James constructed our own society website.
In 2005, the society celebrated its tenth anniversary with a dinner party held at Fairbanks Grill in south Lansing - a fun event and well attended.
Starting in 2008, the membership rolls have declined slightly, most likely due to the vast collection of genealogical records and websites that now are available to researchers. With a current membership of 72, Ingham County Genealogical Society continues the work of preserving records, assisting researchers in the library reference room, providing helpful and informative guest speakers at their monthly meetings and looks forward to continuing.
Written by John Castle January 2013