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
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
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
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.