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HISTORY OF THE
EAST TEXAS GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY

It all started early in 1977 when three area genealogists, Janice Brown, Hughes Ratliff, and Ella Mae Swenson recognized the need to gather and preserve genealogical material pertaining to the east Texas area and make the information available to fellow researchers. They decided a genealogical society would be the ideal way to provide both the monetary and human resources that were needed for such an undertaking. A society would also bring together people of like interests for fellowship, information sharing, and training.

The society, representing Smith, Anderson, Gregg, Henderson, Panola and Rusk counties, held its first meeting on April 16, 1977. Within two years over two hundred researchers had joined the society.

One of their primary goals was the establishment of a genealogical reference center at the Tyler Public Library that would be recognized as one of the best in east Texas. Through the hard work and dedication of its many members, the society has more than succeeded in accomplishing this goal. Over the past twenty-five years, they have placed over 3,000 books, 1,500 rolls of microfilm, 200 plates of microfiche, and numerous maps in the library, at a cost exceeding $60,000. Through a quarterly magazine exchange program with other societies, research material from every state has been provided to the library.

From the beginning the society has produced quality publications, and in recent years it has been the recipient of awards from the Texas State Genealogical Society. In 1995, the society's quarterly publication, East Texas Family Records, edited by Martha Glover, won first place in the Writing Awards Competition for the most outstanding quarterly publication. Again in 2001, the quarterly, co-edited by Martha Glover and June Everheart, won second place in the state competition. Also in 2001, the monthly newsletter, The Bulletin, edited by Pat Galloway, won second place in the Writing Awards Competition.

ETGS has earned state-wide recognition as a leader in its field. In 1996, 2001 and again in 2007, the society was selected to host the Texas State Genealogical Society's annual state conference and seminar that was held in Tyler.

The society has always emphasized the importance of continuing education by providing training for beginner genealogists; sponsoring seminars; conducting workshops; and presenting monthly meetings centered around topics of general interest. Through the years, these educational programs have helped genealogists improve their research skills and become more knowledgeable about available resources.

Jane Lewis {Revised from earlier edition.}

 

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