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El Paso Genealogical Society

(extracted from minutes and scrapbook by L. F. Beard)


When a third cousin gave her a stack of family material, Mrs. Emily Vowell became very interested in genealogy. She was working in EP Public Library and began frequenting the Genealogy Department. As her research grew, she saw a need to talk to other researchers. Doris Nesbitt, also working for EP Public Library, and Lovell Lovett, Branch Library of LDS, encouraged Emily to contact all local researchers.

She sent questionnaires to all she could identify and called a meeting November 5, 1970 in the home of Mrs. W. A. Burgett. Twelve people attended this meeting and began planning to establish a society. At the second meeting, December 5, 1970, in EP Public Library, attendees appointed Emily temporary chairman and Minnie Johnson temporary secretary. A nominating committee consisting of Frances Wilson, Lovell Lovett and Minnie Johnson was named.

At the third meeting held January 14, 1971, they elected: Archie Conn, President, Paul Prichard, Ist Vice President; Emily Vowell, 2nd Vice President; Ledford F. (L. F.) and Jane A. Beard, Corresponding Secretaries; Louise Terrell, Treasurer; Minnie Johnson, Recording Secretary; and Emily Burgett, Editor. Jane and L. F. Beard and Minnie Johnson, charter members, are still active today. The newly formed Society adopted by-laws during this term. Amended in 1984 to satisfy us as a non-profit organization by the IRS. They have been modified twice more to correct wording and expand the board to include the immediate Past President and committee chairmen. The Society began a newsletter with the first monthly issue of El Paso Genealogical Society Bulletin in March 1971. One year later, March, 1972, a name change - Rio Grande Researchers. The name changed again - Rio Grande Researcher, omitting "s". As the size grew, frequency was made quarter-ly.

The Society began meeting monthly the first Thursday but later changed to the second Thursday. Once the society tried holding Wednesday night meetings. Mrs. Cora Davis conducted afternoon meetings at Memorial Senior Citizens Center. The first genealogy course was held April, 1978. Our first intermediate/advanced genealogy course was presented August, 1984. Annual presentations of a beginners' course began in October, 1992 and advanced beginners course in April, 1993.

Seminars by guest lecturers are always a highlight - they discuss details virtually unknown to amateurs. The first seminar was by the Joneses, Salt Lake City, members of American Genealogical Society. Others have been Ron Brenner, Heritage Quest, Jan., 1988 and Bill Dollarhyde, Jan., 1992. Coordination with other groups is an essential ingredient. In May, 1985, we joined EP County Historical Society and EP Museum of History in conducting a workshop at EP Museum of History on Interstate 10. In 1986, we joined EP Hispanic Genealogical Society for a presentation at UTEP.

Book publication began in February 1981 when Brig. Gen. Ross H. Routh produced his third history on the Routh Family. First sale of Births, Deaths and Marriages from El Paso Newspapers - Volume I was made in 1986 . Jane Beard spearheaded a group of members who researched this book and subsequent Volume II in 1992 and Volume III, 1995. Membership in EPGS gives a member an opportunity to join others ranging from beginners to experienced researchers.

Below is a list of the past presidents.

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