Supportive Grant Recipients Announced

Congratulations to the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society and Grays Harbor Genealogical Society for receiving WSGS Supportive Grants.

Scanning equipment: The Yakima Valley Genealogical Society (YVGS) has been collecting and preserving area obituaries since 1968. To date, they have collected around 300,000 obituaries, mainly from the Yakima Herald Republic covering the time period from 1969 to 2021.  The records are available to the public, free of charge, either by visiting their library or by requesting copies by mail.  Due to the lack of digitized copies of the Herald and other local papers, however, YVGS has not been able to gather all of the obituaries from the late 1800’s to 1968, leaving a huge gap in their coverage of the papers.

To fill the gap, YVGS recently purchased a microfilm/microfiche reader/scanner that can digitize full rolls of microfilmed newspaper in as little as one hour per roll. The WSGS Supportive Grant, along with financial support from their members, will be applied to offset the $5,600 cost of the machine.

Once up and running, the unit will allow YVGS library patrons to print or digitize copies of pages or documents from the 6,000 microfilms and 6,000 microfiche residing in their library. In addition, the unit will be available to be used by members of other societies in the state.  By visiting their library, societies will be able to easily digitize their own microfilmed records.

Hybrid Meeting Equipment: The Grays Harbor Genealogical Society (GHGS) has struggled to maintain membership and meeting attendance in their small society (45 members) since March 2020. BC (before COVID), they averaged 20 – 25 members at each meeting. Now, they are averaging 10 – 15 at virtual meetings via Zoom. To better understand why members weren’t participating in virtual meetings, they conducted an online survey. Many replied they wanted to meet in person, finding value in in-person interactions. There were others, however, that were still wanting to meet virtually (because of distance, health issues or convenience).

To retain and increase their membership, GHGS is planning to start “hybrid” meetings in February or March 2022. They plan to use their Supportive Grant monies to purchase equipment that will allow all participants to feel the “connectiveness” they want — whether in person or virtually. They are researching the purchase of a camera, microphone and speaker. They already a member who has volunteered to be their technical expert to run the equipment and monitor speakers and listeners.

Congratulations to YVGS and GHGS. The review panel was very impressed with the caliber of the other societies’ applications. WSGS is hoping to offer Supportive Grants in 2022.

Deadline for Supportive Grant Application is Oct. 31

Societies: The application deadline for WSGS’s new Supportive Grant is Sunday, October 31. Societies are urged and encouraged to submit applications for one of the two $250 grants designed to fill a societal need or support a special project.

The simple application is only one page and is available here. There is also additional guidance on the program. For more information, visit our website at

Questions should be directed to Please note “Supportive Grant” in the Subject Line. The winners will be announced on November 11, 2021.

WSGS Supportive Grant Deadline — October 31

It’s not a trick — only a treat. The deadline for WSGS Supportive Grant applications is October 31.

WSGS is awarding two $250 Supportive Grants to local genealogical societies for special projects or purchases. The grants are designed to fill a need or support a special project of WSGS-member societies and organizations.

The simple application is only one page and is available here. There is also additional guidance on the program. For more information, visit our website at

Questions should be directed to Please note “Awards” in the Subject Line.

Supportive Grants Are Waiting For You

If your local genealogy society needs financial assistance for a special project or purchase, consider applying for a WSGS Supportive Grant. Applications are being accepted through October 31, 2021.

The grants, up to $250 each, are designed to fill a need or support a special project of WSGS-member societies and organizations. Ideas are limited only by societies’ creativity. Some ideas include:

  • Equipment, such as video camera, microphone, tripod, mixing board, or screen, as your society moves to hybrid meetings.
  • Purchase of furniture, equipment, books, magazines or other publications/ subscriptions for an existing or new society library.
  • Locating, inventorying, restoring and/or preserving a local cemetery.
  • Hosting a special event, presentation, or workshop.
  • Purchasing genealogical-related software, scanner, projector, peripherals or other equipment or technology.
  • Developing a project serving special populations, e.g. senior citizens, children/teens, tribal members, ethnic organizations, etc..
  • Restoring and/or preservation of photos or original documents.
  • Identifying and unifying old photos, Bibles, quilts, letters or other significant memorabilia with family members, museums, or other good homes.
  • Creation of a website, blog or other communication tool.
  • Publication of local history or narratives.

The awards do not have to be repaid — they’re yours to support worthy projects. Two grants will be awarded in 2021.

The simple application is only ONE page and is available here. There is also additional guidance on the program. For more information, visit our website at

Questions should be directed to Please note “Awards” in the Subject Line.

Ginny Majewski Announces She’s Not Running For WSGS President

Virginia “Ginny” Majewski has announced she will not seek another term as president of the Washington State Genealogical Society. President since January 2017, Ginny feels it’s time to pass the gavel to someone else.

In a recent interview, Ginny was asked her proudest accomplishments in her five-year tenure. She replied:

Finding ways to help genealogical societies in Washington State through these difficult times. I am very proud of the financial support we provided to all of the genealogy societies during the Covid epidemic. Although WSGS could not give much to each society, in total we distributed over $10,000 to 40+ societies. I would like to think it helped keep some of our societies alive.

Also, I was honored to work with DSHS and with the IJGS and FGS to keep access to vital records in Washington State open for genealogists. Although we did not get everything we wanted, we were able to maintain access rather than have vital records be totally closed for 50-100 years. That process took over a year of conference calls and legislative interactions, but was worthwhile in the long run.

When asked where she hoped WSGS would go in the future, she expressed her optimism:

WSGS has found its niche. We are here to help genealogical societies and be a conduit for genealogical information. My hope for the future is that WSGS will be THE go-to place when searching for genealogical resources, information and activities in Washington State. I would like to see our website become more interactive and our blog have more contributions and highlight society events. I would also love to see us find a way to honor our wonderful society volunteers again.

If you think Ginny is going to end her presidency quietly, you’re wrong. Her parting comment was “I am looking forward to announcing WSGS’s plans for honoring our Pioneer ancestors next month.” We’re looking forward to that!

If you’d like to read more about Ginny, check out this “Meet the Board” article.

The WSGS Board is looking for members to serve on a nominating committee. If you’re interested in this very important short-term opportunity, please email the Board at and type “Nominating Committee” in the subject line.

WSGS Introduces Supportive Grants

Is your local genealogy society interested in financial assistance for a special project or need? Applications for the WSGS Supportive Grants are being accepted through October 31, 2021.

The grants, up to $250 each, are designed to support the inventive and creative efforts of WSGS-member societies and organizations or fill a need that your society has, such as equipment to engage your members during this COVID hybrid period. The awards do not have to be repaid — they’re yours to support worthy projects. Two grants will be awarded in 2021.

The simple application is only ONE page and is available here. There is also additional guidance on the program. For more information, visit our website at

For more information, contact Please note “Awards” in the Subject Line.

A Message from the WSGS President

2018 is quickly drawing to a close.  Year’s end is always a good time for retrospection and planning for next year and years to come.  Each year I evaluate my genealogical successes, failures and unfulfilled plans. I use this information to prioritize my to-do lists and come up with a new research plan for the next year.  We are doing a similar process at WSGS.

WSGS President Ginny Majewski

As genealogists, you are aware of all the changes which have come about in our industry.  Some of those changes have drastically changed the way we do business, the way we work, the way we communicate, the way we educate and so much more.  What societies did for years, no longer works as well today.  This means WSGS must continue to change if we wish to remain alive and relevant. 

Several years ago, WSGS began an evaluation of itself by looking at what we were doing well and what we weren’t doing so well.  As a result, we began making changes in the Society. Our first changes were to improve the WSGS website and the Blog. Next, improvements were made to the Recognition and Awards program. We initiated the Innovative Grant program to help societies with special projects and educational events.  For the most part, these endeavors have been successful. 

This past year, we focused on making further improvements to the website.  Our goal was to provide better access to resources for genealogists and for genealogical societies. Information on each genealogical society in Washington was updated and expanded, including info on special collections held by societies. Information on museums in Washington was added to the website. We began revitalizing the Speakers’ Directory. In addition, for the second year in a row, WSGS provided Society Management classes at the Northwest Genealogy Conference in Arlington. We are working on a collaborative relationship with the owners of the Civil War Veterans Buried in Washington State website.

The WSGS Board will be holding a two-day retreat this spring to bring forth new ideas, evaluate, plan and move WSGS forward.  Board meetings are open to the membership.  I welcome any thoughts you have on WSGS.  Just drop me an email at

Wishing you all peace, hope and joy in the New Year.

Ginny Majewski, President

Looking for a Last Minute Christmas Gift?

Looking for that last minute Christmas gift for someone — or yourself? How about a WSGS membership? It’s only $12/year whether an individual or couple — only $1 a month! We need your membership support so we can continue sponsoring this WSGS Blog; promote local genealogical meetings, workshops and conferences; and — it’s the right thing to do to support statewide organizations like the Washington State Genealogical Society.

It’s easy to join (or renew). Just click here to join (new members) or here to renew (current members must log in). 

Banner Photos Identified

Have you noticed the Blog banner changes every time you visit? The photos are submitted by readers like you — and Carol Ballard of Olympia. Carol recently sent us three beautiful scenic photos:

  • A wintery shot of Henderson Inlet near Olympia (pictured at right)
  • State ferry on its way to Bremerton
  • Millersylvania State Park near Olympia

We’re always looking for scenic photos of our beautiful state for the rotating photo gallery on the blog banner. It’s easy — just send a Washington State jpg image to with a description of the photo. The blog masters will take care of the rest!

Gift Idea: Washington Pioneer Certificate

pioneerIf your ancestor was one of the 350,000 people who lived in the Washington Territory when it became the nation’s 42nd state on 11 Nov 1889, you may be eligible for a Washington Pioneer certificate. Or if your ancestors arrived a little later — before 31 Dec 1900 — you can get a First Citizen certificate. What a great gift for yourself and your family members!

We began the Washington State Centennial Pioneer Certificate Program in 1984 in anticipation of the state’s centennial admission to the union in 1889. The initial certificates were issued to applicants who could prove their ancestors were in Washington Territory prior to 11 Nov 1889. Those descendants’ names, almost 18,000, were printed in a two-volume set of firstcitizenbooks entitled “Washington Pioneers” in 1992. A third volume, published in 1993, included Pioneers and First Citizens (those in the state on or before 31 Dec 1900). The three original volumes are out of print, but an index is available here. WSGS members have access to family lineages in the Members’ Only section of the website.
Pioneer and First Citizen Certificates are still being issued, although they are published only on the WSGS website at this time. If you can prove your ancestor was in Washington prior to 11 Nov 1889, you may be eligible to purchase a Pioneer Certificate. If your ancestor was in Washington on or before 31 Dec 1900, you may be eligible for a First Citizen Certificate. More information, including resources to prove residency, is available in the Pioneer and First Citizen Program brochure. An application and instructions are available here.