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60 Years Young! Welcome to a New Era

Updated: Mar 13

Note: If you came to this post from the newsletter, The SCGS Searcher Newsletter, you're in the right place. Skip over the first couple of paragraphs and continue where you left off.

What does the Southern California Genealogical Society have in common with Sandra Bullock, Lenny Kravitz, and the Ford Mustang? We're all turning 60! Our genealogical society opened its doors in early 1964, meeting at the California Federal Savings & Loan, 611 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. Nearby were Pershing Square, Angels' Flight, and the Grand Central Market. For metropolitan areas, SCGS was late to the party in establishing an official groupthe New York Genealogical & Biographical Society was founded in 1869, nearly 100 years before Southern California.

The group's formation came at the right time. The world was turbulent while the space program was flying high and the Beatles captivated America. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated just a few months before SCGS's first meeting, and the Civil Rights Act was finally passed in July 1964. As survivors of a pandemic, we know the importance of in-person connections, working with like-minded people to build a nonprofit and with whom to socialize, provide education, and share ideas for family history research. SCGS served a need when it formed 60 years ago, and the interest in genealogy has grown to be second to gardening as a popular hobby, depending on the source. Interest has further increased with DNA and genetic genealogy technology as people seek to reveal their ethnicities.

So, Why are Things Changing? Or, Why Aren’t Things Remaining the Same?

Addressing the elephant on your digital screen: why are SCGS members receiving a newsletter sent via e-mail that links to a new website? Where's The Searcher? A short answer: we've changed, you've changed, we all have changed. Most of us are connected online through e-mail, the website, or Facebook. Alice Fairhurst, our tireless editor of The Searcher, past president, Jamboree organizer, speaker, and so many other positions, decided to "retire" from these numerous duties at the age of 87. She'll still lead and co-chair a couple special-interest groups (see post).

Nobody can replace Alice and her special version of The Searcher. Instead of attempting to, we are transitioning to a new phase. Think of our newsletter as a briefer, more high-tech version of the beloved quarterly journal/newsletter. Over a year in the making, our new website will be the go-to source for all things SCGS and much more. Our officers and board of directors are considering the best direction for Jamboree, our longtime genealogy event. It will be reconceptualized to serve the needs of our members and the genealogical community. In-person, virtual, hybrid, or something else? We're exploring all formats with the goal of presenting relevant and meaningful opportunities to learn more about genealogy, which continues to make exciting advances.

You've Heard It Before: the Pandemic Really Changed Our Lives

The pandemic had profound effects on most people's lives. Not only were our routines changed, but we were in a crisis, some more than others. People's identities changed as they were forced to become home-based teachers, caregivers, and employees in a world that sometimes seemed surreal and unprecedented.* Social interaction was limited in larger metropolitan areas like Southern California and New York. Virtual learning, remote work, and social media quickly became the ways to function.

“We are very sensitive to our environment,” explained Jingshi (Joyce) Liu, a University of London professor interviewed in Time Magazine. “The disruption of who we are will nonetheless feed into how we feel about our own authenticity,” she continued, "But we can do our best to accept these changes and even form a new sense of self. “[If] I incorporated virtual teaching as a part of my self-identity, I may not need to change my behavior to go back to classroom teaching for me to feel authentic. I simply just adapt or expand the definition of what it means to be a teacher.”

To feel more comfortable in their new identity, people can start accepting their new sense of self without trying to return to who they once were. Time

The more we accept that we are no longer the same people after this crisis, the easier it will be for us to reconcile who we are now and who we want to become. Time

It's Mutual: We Need One Another

Join us as we look forward to the coming changes in genealogy and with our SCGS community. If you're looking for an opportunity to show up somewhere again, the welcome mat is at our door, physically and virtually. Roll up your sleeves and help out, or just see what our library, collections, groups, events, and people can do for you. Invite a friend or family member. Is there a topic, class, or group you would like to see at the Southern California Genealogical Society? Let us know.

You tell me and I forget. You teach me and I remember. You involve me and I learn.”

~ Benjamin Franklin 

*As family researchers, we know the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1919 and others before that. But for us, it was unprecedented in our lifetimes.

Dutta, Nayantara."4 Ways That the Pandemic Changed How We See Ourselves.", 8 April 2022,

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