About FGS

The Federation of Genealogical Societies empowers the genealogical and family history community, especially its societies and organizations, by:

Advocating for the preservation and access of records

Providing resources that enable genealogical organizations to succeed in pursuing their missions

Linking the Genealogical Community since 1976

As the nation anticipated the celebration of its bicentennial, programs and projects at the national and local level encouraged the study and preservation of America’s past. Existing historical and genealogical societies were invigorated, while new organizations sprang up throughout the country. Local, social, institutional, and family histories were being mass produced. Census records, cemetery records, military records, and indexes by the thousands were being abstracted and printed in virtually every state and county. In the absence of any national coordination of projects, there was a considerable amount of duplication.

Meanwhile, unscrupulous promoters attempted to benefit from the newly awakened fervor for examining the past by selling would-be-family historians unauthorized coats-of-arms, fraudulent pedigrees, and worthless genealogical services. Conscientious researchers needed protecting. The unwary public needed alerting.

It was in this environment that the idea of a national umbrella organization was born. In June of 1975, a group of over 45 persons who were attending a conference in Salt Lake City addressed the problem by forming the Federation of Genealogical Societies.

In 1976, Articles of Incorporation were filed in Illinois establishing FGS. Learn more about the history of FGS.


Advocating for Records Preservation and Access

To serve our records preservation purpose, FGS engages in projects some of which involve fundraising and some that do not. We recently concluded fund-raising for the Preserve the Pensions Project which raised funds to facilitate the digitization of U.S. War of 1812 pension files at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). These documents are being digitized, indexed, and added to Fold3.com where they will be permanently free to access. A recent non-fundraising project was the US-Mexican War Database, in which we partnered with the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park to create a searchable database of soldiers of the US-Mexican War.

FGS is a co-founder and participating member of the Records Preservation and Access Committee, in partnership with other leading genealogical organizations. RPAC was created to advise the genealogical community on ensuring proper access to historical records of genealogical value in whatever media they are recorded, on methods to affect legislation, and on supporting strong records preservation policies and practices. RPAC monitors legislative activities at the state and national level to prevent closure and access reduction to important records of genealogical value.

Empowering Societies to Succeed in the 21st Century

FGS provides educational experiences to help societies thrive and to help their members grow as genealogists. FGS hosts an annual conference – four days of excellent lectures, including society management topics. FGS produces webinars dedicated to society management education.

FGS publishes FORUM magazine, a quarterly interactive electronic magazine providing current information essential to both society leaders and the informed genealogist. The FGS Voice blog provides time-sensitive information.

FGS publishes an extensive series of Society Strategy Series Papers, covering topics about effectively organizing and operating a genealogical society.

FGS provides society-strengthening services to our member societies such as reviews of bylaws, newsletters, and websites, suggesting improvements. The second edition of our Bylaws Workbook published in 2012 aids societies in creating bylaws that strengthen societies and prevent confusion, dissension, and disagreement.

FGS recognizes excellence in the genealogical community with awards for societies and individuals.