Albuquerque Genealogical Society celebrates 50 years with event, book

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

A group that has been helping Albuquerque families research their lineage for decades turns 50.

The Albuquerque Genealogical Society was founded in 1972 and will hold a celebration May 7 at the downtown Main Library at Fifth Street and Copper Avenue NW.

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

The event will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and will include a one-hour panel discussion on its history. Special interest groups and lineage organizations of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Sons of the American Revolution, General Society of Mayflower Descendants, and National Society of the Daughters of the United States of 1812 will be there to provide information about their organizations.

The idea for the Genealogical Society originated 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 family libraries that they used and purchased to do their family history. They went from house to house to use each other’s resources.

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

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

But she said the library, for legal reasons, could no longer store the books unless she owned them. The members had to decide their next move. Some agreed to return the documents to the library but others, at least initially, kept the books in their possession.

“Until then, the members owned the book they were contributing to,” she said. “It was a big move (to give them to the library). The group formed in 1972.

The other members ended up donating their gear. This was not just the start 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 is also where the society holds most of its public events, including Research Days which take place on the third Sunday of each month. The library will host visits from the genealogical department on the day of the celebration.

The society holds presentations on 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 want to look up information about their family, we can really be very helpful,” Katonak said. “We have so many ways to serve them.”

The pandemic, Katonak said, has changed its membership composition. While most members are still from Albuquerque, the group now sees people from all over the United States participating in their monthly online meetings.

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

The book’s preface highlights how well the organization has been doing for 50 years.

Attendees can also get a taste of another planned society book entitled “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 the founder of the military research group Patricia T. Eker. The book will be released on Memorial Day.

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