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MGC Member Society Spotlights

Spotlight on Member Societies: Friends of NARA-Pittsfield

 by Janet Rogge (Friends’ President) and Barbara Mathews, CG

The western half of Massachusetts is represented in the genealogical world by the Friends of NARA-Pittsfield. The group was established in 1995 as the Friends of the Silvio O. Conte National Archives in order to support the new Pittsfield office of the National Archives. At that time, Pittsfield had been open for one year and had only two staff members, Walter Hickey and Jean Nudd. The facility still only has two staff members but the volunteer corps is the largest in the regional system of the National Archives.

Through membership fees, sales at conferences and in a small on-site store, donations, and an annual full-day genealogy conference held in September, the Friends raise funds which are used in the following ways:

  • to increase the holdings of the branch by purchasing books and films at the recommendation of Friends’ advisor, Archivist Jean NuddPittsfield
  • to purchase online access to
  • to maintain memberships in various organizations and societies
  • to publish a quarterly newsletter, Archival Anecdotes
  • to sponsor events of interest to genealogists, such as Irish day, Ethnic Day and a lecture by Steve Morse
  • to co-sponsor the annual Flag Day program
  • to provide two annual parties and gifts to honorPittsfield’s volunteers and to provide gifts for the volunteers at theWalthamfacility in recognition of their work
  • to maintain a website (see site for further information)
  • to fund special projects, such as the creation of a CD, The First Ten Years of Archival Anecdotes

A full-day conference, “Life in the Past Lane,” celebrated its seventh year in 2010. The conference draws genealogists from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York. It includes four lectures and a vendor hall in addition to lunch.

Recognizing and rewarding Pittsfield’s volunteers is a very important function of the Friends. In a day when many records are available online and accessible from home, our patrons discover that their research, including that done online is more productive when working with a volunteer. Volunteers and staff have tips for getting better search results and they are familiar with the ways various sites function.

The Friends and Pittsfield’s staff have won national recognition for service to the genealogical community:

  • placed second in the National Genealogical Society newsletter competition in the Major Genealogical or Historical Society category in 2001 and again in 2009.Archival Anecdotes
  • Vice President Gore’s “Hammer Award” in 1997 went to the Friends and the PittsfieldNARAstaff for outstanding service and for reinventing government operations through their close collaboration while saving $70,000.
  • The Friends nominated Jean Nudd for a National Genealogical Society Award of Merit in 2010 which she was awarded last April.