By Shannon Combs-Bennett, Student
I am a member of a fraternity. No, seriously. While it may not be as impressive as some of the fraternal orders our ancestors were a part of I am super proud to be a member of a professional fraternity. Best part, these types of organizations keep records. Which is what the last module of the course US Immigration and Naturalization Records taught us.
Module 6 was on the subject of ethnic sources, societies, and newspapers. Once again, I felt left out since it didn’t directly affect my personal story, but the information was very enthralling. I honestly had no idea about many of the sources discussed or the groups that were active in different ethnic communities. In the future I am sure this information will help me with research into other people’s lineages.
The majority of the chapter was about societies. I liked that our instructor broke them up by the type of society. The sections were: fraternal, ethnic, and charitable. While many people belong to several different types of societies, I thought it was important to note that there was not a standard way they all functioned. Each was formed for a different reason, with a different mission statement, and different entry rules. That being said I did not know so many of them kept such extensive records.
The one I knew kept great records was the Free Masons. I have ancestors who were Free Masons and have worked on locating those records. No luck yet on getting them, but one day I will.
There were a number of Irish ethnic societies. I would guess that is because of the large number of Irish who settled in the United States. Also, many of the charitable societies were also Irish based. The records available from these groups would be amazing for any genealogist who can find their ancestors among their rolls. Particularly the member biographies that were often written.
I was impressed with the course and learned a lot more about these types of records than I thought I would. Once again, you never know where you will pick up a new tip. Good luck researching your ancestors and see you online!