Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

The Albuquerque Genealogical Society celebrating 50 years with event, book

The Albuquerque Genealogical Society is releasing a book during its May 7, 50th anniversary event called “The Albuquerque Genealogical Society’s First Fifty Years: A Retrospective (1972-2022).” (Courtesy of the Albuquerque Genealogical Society)

A group that has helped Albuquerque families research their lineage for decades is celebrating 50 years.

The Albuquerque Genealogical Society was founded in 1972 and will host a celebration May 7 in the main library Downtown at Fifth Street and Copper Avenue NW.

Mayor Tim Keller is expected to declare May 7 Family History Day.

The event takes place from 10:30 am to 3 pm and will include an hourlong panel discussion on its history. Special interest groups and the lineage organizations of Daughters of the American Revolution, Sons of the American Revolution, General Society of Mayflower Descendants and National Society of United States Daughters of 1812 will be there to provide information about their organizations.

The idea for the Genealogical Society sprang up among a group of researchers, according to longtime member Lynda Katonak.

“It started in the late-’60s with a group of people interested in family history,” she said. “Each of them had books and resources in the home libraries that they used and had bought to do their family history. They would go from one person’s house to another to use each other’s resources.”

Albuquerque Genealogical Society president Lark Robart presents a copy of the new society anniversary book to genealogy librarian Sally Berg. In the background is member Michael Blackledge. (Courtesy Travis Hollins)

The group, she said, decided to put all their books and resources in one place. Initially it was a church, then it was Erna Fergusson Library, which opened in 1966.

But she said the library, for legal reasons, could no longer store the books unless they owned them. Members had to decide their next move. Some agreed to hand over the materials to the library but others, at least initially, kept the books in their possession.

“Up until that time, the members owned the book they were contributing,” she said. “It was a big move (to give them to the library). The group incorporated in 1972.”

The other members eventually donated their materials. This was not only the beginning of the society, it would become the seed for the public library’s thriving Genealogy Center, which works in partnership with the society.

The center is now located on the second floor of the main library. It’s also the location where the society holds most of its public events, including research days that are held the third Sunday of each month. The library will host tours of the genealogical department on the day of the celebration.

The society hosts presentations the second Wednesday of the month, discussing topics ranging from genealogy to family history to local history or any other relevant discussion.

“I think for people who are interested in looking for information on their family, we can really be so helpful,” Katonak said. “We have so many ways we can serve them.”

The pandemic, Katonak said, has changed the makeup of its membership. While most members still come from Albuquerque, the group now sees people from around the United States participating in their monthly online meetings.

In honor of its half-century existence, the society is releasing a book detailing it history. The book, “The Albuquerque Genealogical Society’s First Fifty Years: A Retrospective (1972-2022),” will be available for purchase at the event, $20 for paperback and $30 for hardback.

The book’s preface sheds light on how the organization has been going strong for 50 years.

Attendees can also get a sneak preview of another planned society book called “AGS Military Heritage: Service to our Country by Members, Ancestors, Family.” The book features military articles that appeared in the society’s quarterly newsletter and was compiled by military research group founder Patricia T. Eker. The book will be released Memorial Day.

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