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PINELLAS GENEALOGY SOCIETY

History

by Lesleigh Laite Butts

     The Pinellas Genealogy Society was founded by a small group of people whose interest in genealogy led them to establish The Florida Society for Genealogical Research, Inc. on May 27, 1972. On July 16, 1972, the first meeting of the Board of Directors was held in Pinellas Park. The following officers were elected: President, Leonard H. Smith, Jr.; Vice President, Mrs. Jocelyn Elkes; Recording Secretary, Mrs. William M. Boyer; Corresponding Secretary, Mrs. Jimmie Morrow; Treasurer, Mrs. George B. Jones; and Trustees, Mrs. Leo D. Hazel and Mrs. Richard H. Thompson. The group subsequently held meetings at the St. Petersburg Library until size constraints and library policy made it necessary to relocate. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) offered the use of their facilities in St. Petersburg, and although the Society has no formal connection to the Church, it accepted the offer and began monthly meetings.
     The name was changed to the Pinellas Genealogy Society, Inc. (PGS) in 1982. Incorporation documents were filed with the State of Florida June 7, 1991. The Society was granted it’s 501c3 tax-exempt status on February 24, 1992.
     Over the ensuing years the LDS congregation out grew its small facility and plans were made to build a new and larger Stake in Largo. Growing also was the membership and genealogical collection of Pinellas Genealogy Society. During LDS plan development it became apparent that the LDS Stake would no longer be capable of meeting the Society’s future expansion requirements.
     On January 17, 1991 Jay Dobkin, PGS member and Largo Library Special Collections Librarian, facilitated a contract between the Society and Largo Library. A mutual agreement was made that the Pinellas Genealogy Society would provide volunteers in the Special Collections/Genealogy Department and present educational classes and workshops in exchange for the library’s agreement to house the PGS genealogical collection. Thus began the Society’s amiable association with the Largo Library.
     A totally volunteer workforce carries out the business of the Society and conducts special projects to further family history research in the Pinellas area. These projects encompass such tasks as cemetery canvassing and documentation, indexing obituaries and court records and assisting researchers at the Largo Library.
     A contingent of Society volunteers staff the Genealogy Department donating in excess of 30,000 hours annually. Monday through Saturday volunteers are available to assist patrons with their family history research by providing guidance in the use of the special collections books, periodicals, microfilm, microfiche and maps. They also assist researchers in the use of personal computers, which give access to CD-ROM, and Internet based programs such as Ancestry.com and Genealogy and Local History Online.
     The society presents weekly classes and workshops at the library, which cover all aspects of genealogical study. The small fee received for the course covers materials and is donated to the Greater Largo Library Foundation to benefit Special Collections.
     The PGS Cemetery Committee volunteers donate thousands of hours annually recording cemetery inscriptions. Efforts of this committee between 1998 and 2002 have resulted in over 100,000 burials being documented.
     Each January an all day educational seminar is presented and open to public attendance; attendance is typically between 100 to 200 people.
     There are only two Genealogy Societies in Pinellas County, the Pinellas Genealogy Society and Suncoast Genealogy Society. Using Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard as a dividing line, the Pinellas Genealogy Society assumes responsibility for cemetery research from Gulf-to-Bay to the Sunshine Skyway. PGS has aggressively canvassed the cemeteries and columbaria encompassed in the southern region and successfully achieved a 92% completion factor and 20 publications listed in our catalogue. PGS has been collecting data on all known cemeteries throughout the county in order to establish a timeline for historical reference. With funds received from membership dues and the annual PGS Seminar, the society funds special projects, publications and purchases books to be added to Special Collections, Largo Library.
     The PGS Banner debuted August 2003, it was created by Pat Johnston and Lesleigh Butts. Our banner colors are purple and gold. Our banner theme: “Pinellas Genealogy Society - The Bridge To Pinellas Genealogical Research.” Interpretation: Pine branches/cones symbolize the evolution of Pinellas County’s name from its Spanish name “Punta Pinal” (Point of Pines). Our beautiful 1917 Courthouse depicts Pinellas early history and signifies Pinellas County records – as the backbone of Pinellas research. Our famous Skyway Bridge symbolizes the Pinellas Genealogy Society as the bridge to Pinellas research. And of course, our banner is crowned with our outstanding golden Pinellas Genealogy Society Logo.
     Demographically speaking the PGS research territory encompasses the most ethnically diverse population of Pinellas County as St. Petersburg has the largest ratio of African-Americans per capita than most other cities in Pinellas County. Because of the Pinellas Genealogy Society’s intense research in the southern part of Pinellas, information and data disseminated is extremely relevant to that culture.
     Through the Pinellas Genealogy Society quarterly publication The Pinellas Genealogist, the society shares genealogical experiences, family histories, primary records such as death records, bible records, baptismal records, and birth records with members and Societies participating in a mutual quarterly exchange.

 

Mission Statement

     The Pinellas Genealogy Society, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to the furtherance of genealogical research, education, and preservation of Pinellas County genealogical material.

Updated 28 April 2013 . Copyright 2003-2004 by Pinellas Genealogy Society, Inc. All rights reserved.