Genealogy continues to hover as one of the top hobbies in the U.S., and Oklahomans are part of that mushrooming fan base.
Active genealogical societies keep interest in tact. Oklahoma Genealogical Society’s (OGS) president Mike Birdsong has been a board member for 12 years. Established in 1955, OGS is the eighth oldest genealogical society in the U.S., and has a current membership of 432. Dorothy Becknell has served as president of the Tulsa Genealogical Society (TGS) for seven years. With an annual membership of 60 to 70, TGS was established in 1965.
Both nonprofits promote the collection and preservation of family genealogy for historical benefits, bringing people together for discussion and exchange of information, to study research methodology, to issue publications, to collect and preserve data, to assist members with their genealogical research and writing, and, most simply of all, to encourage each other.
Some historians are interested in their ancestors’ involvement in world events, some are tracing their ancestors for ethnicity or are looking for famous relatives. Others just want to know who they are and where they came from.
OGS and TGS offer support for learning how to research family histories and how to organize that information. They also encourage participation in local and national genealogical programs. TGS has extensive databases for Tulsa and Tulsa County, located on their website, that include funeral homes, marriages, divorces and many Tulsa County Court Records. OGS holds two to three seminars with nationally recognized genealogical experts, and produces monthly newsletters, archives, publications and books. Their research center includes a library, a genealogical database, a surname database, and a lineage society called the First Families of the Twin Territories (FFTT), honoring people who were in Oklahoma prior to statehood. The FFTT is considered to be one of Oklahoma’s important genealogical databases.
The OGS Resource Center is located at 1125 N.W. 50th Street in Oklahoma City. Due to the current COVID-19 spike, the center is open only by appointment. The TGS Library is housed on the Northeastern University Broken Arrow Campus at 3100 E. New Orleans in Broken Arrow.
Both groups welcome beginners, and hold monthly meetings that are free to both members and non-members. During the pandemic, all meetings have been virtual. Connect with both groups through Facebook, or go online to tulsagenealogy.org and okgensoc.org.
The evolution of DNA has opened a new world for genealogists, allowing them to delve more deeply into their ancestries and find long-lost relatives. And those who have been adopted are using DNA and court records to find their birth parents.
Both Becknell and Birdsong are eager for April 1, when the 1950 Census will be released.
“This opens up an additional 10 years of research we will be able to add to our family histories,” says Becknell. “TGS will be hosting informational speakers and webinars on utilizing this great tool of information.”
Birdsong adds: “With more and more records online, the pandemic hasn’t slowed the research down. The 1950 Census, and other new and exciting research tools, will help advance our beloved hobby.”