History of CSG

The History of the Connecticut Society of Genealogists, Inc.

Founding of the Connecticut Society of Genealogists (CSG)

In the mid-1960s, three “Saturday morning family historians in the Genealogy section of the Connecticut State Library (CSL)” George E. Williams, Elery B. Clark, and Randall M. Loomis decided that it might be useful to have some form of organization whereby people could get together to exchange genealogy data and discuss common problems.  In March of 1968, an organizational meeting which was held at the Connecticut Historical Society (CHS) in Hartford. Because of inclement weather, the first meeting was rescheduled for April 20, which is considered the founding date of CSG.   CSG has 330 charter members.  CSG is a 501©3 organization.

The purpose and objectives of the Society, as stated in the bylaws, are:

  • to encourage and assist in the acquisition, location, preservation and indexing of public and private genealogical records, with emphasis on Connecticut records, and to make such records and collections available to members and to the general public;
  • to express the society’s concern about records preservation and public access to records.
  • to encourage and instruct members in the technique and practice of genealogical research and compilation;
  • to maintain and elevate genealogical standards; and
  • to provide instructional and educational programs and publications throughout the year.
  • to cooperate with regional, national and individual societies with like purposes.

Challenges

A major challenge for CSG was gaining access to Connecticut birth records. The published “Barbour Collection” provided vital records up to 1850, but access to more recent birth records was difficult. In the 1930s someone had unwisely published a genealogy with vital records data for living persons. These records revealed an out-of-wedlock birth that embarrassed the family. A family member, who was a state legislator, reacted by putting a bill through the Connecticut Legislature that severely restricted access to vital records. Under this law, only lawyers, title examiners and parents whose children were still minors could access the birth records. The Society, while agreeing that it was wrong to publicize sensitive information on a living person, believed that there should be some provision for genealogical research under suitable conditions.

CSG turned to Jeanne Thornton, a state legislator in Glastonbury for help. The initial bill went to committee for hearings where it was opposed by the State’s Health Department and the bill died in committee.  In the 1971 legislative session, we re-introduced our bill, which was ultimately approved by both houses of the General Assembly and signed by the Governor, thereby becoming law.

However, along the way the Public Health Committee did impose one restriction.  They said that the State must have some control over the genealogy societies; so the bill limited access only to members of societies incorporated in Connecticut. Although CSG opposed this provision, it greatly benefited CSG in obtaining members.  Today there are fourteen incorporated organizations whose members may access State vital records.

Code of Conduct

The Society adopted a Code of Conduct.  As a condition of membership, each member reaffirms their adherence to this ethical code of conduct in which the members agrees, as a condition of membership, to “respect the privacy of the individuals whose information I encounter in my research.”  The Code was modified to emphasize that access to vital records by members was only for legitimate genealogical and historical research, but that this research included work by both amateur and paid professional researchers.

There was also a pledge in the Code to treat records with care and respect. The code on our membership card, which must be signed by the member, reads,

This is to certify that as a Research Genealogist, I will use the information I encounter for historic and genealogical purposes only.  I will respect:  1) the books and records which I am allowed to examine; 2) the privacy of the individuals whose information I encounter in my research; and 3) the custodians of the records.  Violations of this pledge will be reported to the CSG Ethics Committee.

CSG’s Role in Other Societies

  • Federation of Genealogical Societies – In August 1976, George Williams as CSG executive secretary, and Herbert A. Hotchkiss, went to Cleveland, Ohio to attend the organizational meeting of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. CSG became one of the charter founding societies.
  • Herb Hotchkiss, who was very active in the Boy Scouts of America, was also instrumental in initiating the BSA Genealogy merit badge.
  • Hartford ’83. This was the first National Conference for Genealogists in the Northeast and was held at the Parkview Hilton Hotel, hosted by the CSG in cooperation with the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the Association of Professional Genealogists.  One outgrowth of the conference was the formation of the Descendants of the Founders of Ancient Windsor.

New England Regional Genealogical Consortium, Inc. (NERGC)

Inspired by the success of Hartford ’83, representatives of genealogical societies throughout New England worked together to organize a regional conference.  Through the efforts of CSG member Thomas F. Howard, in 2006 the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium, Inc. was incorporated in the State of Connecticut as a non-profit educational organization.  To date, “NERGC” has produced 14 conferences, including two in Connecticut.

Publications

In May 1968, shortly after the founding, the Society issued a small, mimeographed publication called The Bulletin. Five issues were published the first year.  The publication grew from two pages to sixty-eight pages. Nearly half the content was queries from members seeking help on specific ancestors. In the second year, 1969, the publication was renamed The Nutmegger and published as a quarterly. Queries were dominate.  Beginning with Volume 3, Number 1 (June 1970), The Nutmegger was renamed The Connecticut Nutmegger to avoid conflict with a previously registered publication. The purpose of The Connecticut Nutmegger is to provide an archival record for thoroughly researched and documented genealogical articles.

At the same time, The Nutmegger launched the Ancestry Service. Members were strongly encouraged to submit their family five–generation charts and the Ancestry Service sought to inform members of the charts of other members containing shared ancestors. All indexes are available in the CSG library and some are available at the Connecticut State Library.   

In 2008 CSG launched a magazine called Connecticut Genealogy News. The Connecticut Nutmegger continues to serve as the archival journal of record and Connecticut Genealogy News serves as a vehicle for lighter fare. The CSG Newsletter was incorporated into the Connecticut Genealogy News as a tear-out section to serve members as a reminder of upcoming events.