History of the

Lethbridge & District Branch

of the

Alberta Genealogical Society

1977 to December 1997

by Phyllis Burnett

October 1997

The Early Years 10 May 1977 to 21 February 1985

(prepared by Anne Baines)

Although Lethbridge members of the AGS had been approached as early as 9 February 1975 by Frank C. Easton, President of the AGS about forming a branch in Lethbridge, it was a memo from Pat Hewitt, Membership Secretary, on 21 March 1977 that spurred Mary Bole to invite a group of genealogy enthusiasts to her home on 10 of May 1977. The chairman for the meeting was Gil Croome, the secretary Mary Bole and the others present were Wendy Croome, Jim Murray, Margaret Nelson, Anne Baines, Alice Humphreys, and Carolyn Otto. After discussing the benefits a branch would bring to the members in the Lethbridge area, it was decided to proceed with the formation of the third branch of AGS and officers were elected.

Gil and Wendy Croome became the first President and Vice-President and Anne Baines was elected Secretary-Treasurer. Fees were set at $2.00 (single or family) and the next meeting was planned.

Most meetings were held in the boardroom of the Lethbridge Public Library until November, 1978 when the branch began meeting in the Com-Serve Boardroom because there would be no fee charged.

Each meeting had a business session followed by a speaker on genealogy or history or a problem session. Some of the speakers in the early years were: Jim Murray, Gil Croome, Duncan Rand, Alice Humphreys, John McLean-Rennie, Alex Johnston, Anne Baines, Glen Coulter, Dr. Jim Cousins and Bob Baines. Starting in September 1978 the order of the meetings was changed so that a speaker, a lunch break and then a workshop followed the business meeting. Workshops were conducted on such topics as Ancestor Index and Writing Letters for Civil Registration records.

One of the first concerns of the members was access to books on genealogy. After the Branch was formed, the books from the central AGS library were in the branch periodically as the library circulated from branch to branch. Later as more branches were formed, the library was divided up and the parts went to each branch in turn. This gave the members a chance to see what was available in the central library and to use the various books when they were in the branch. The central library discontinued the practice and later kept the books in a central location.

The Lethbridge Branch also started collecting books for its own library. Members donated books and some periodicals were received from other branches. The branch won $10.00 to buy a book by having the biggest percentage of its members in attendance at Seminar 1979 in Calgary. Glen Coulter was the first librarian and later on Emily Stringam took on the librarian duties. Emily catalogued the books and circulated lists of what was available.

An interest in cemetery recording was voiced early in the history of the Branch. The first project, which was St. Patrick's Cemetery, was started on the 11th July, 1978 with a large turnout of Branch members. Unfortunately, after getting about a half hour of recording done, rain began to pour and the project had to be completed at various other times stretching out for over a year. The members found that they had started out with a project that was too big for a first attempt.

The Eighth Annual Seminar and General Meeting of the Alberta Genealogical Society was hosted by the Lethbridge Branch on April 3rd and 4th, 1981 at the Lethbridge Lodge Hotel. This was the first time the Seminar had not been held in Calgary or Edmonton. Speakers were Jock Carpenter of Lethbridge on writing family history, Carol Holderby on Irish research, and Phillip Lothyan on U.S. research. The Seminar Committee was co-chaired by Bob and Anne Baines with the help of Bob Thompson, Jackie Knight and Don Groft.

The period between 1980 and 1982 brought troublesome times to the Alberta Genealogical Society. Both Cardston and Calgary Branches folded. Lethbridge also had its problems during this time. Conflict between the Calgary and Edmonton Branches also affected Lethbridge, and Branch activities came to a halt after Seminar 81. In September 1981 some of the provincial executive (Jack & Enid Fitzsimonds, Doris Meeres and Anne Baines) organized a meeting at the Lethbridge Public Library to reactivate the Branch. Although there was a good turnout, most were not willing to take office. Fortunately, Harold and Amy Woodruff became President and Secretary and Jackie Knight agreed to help them get organized and the Branch has moved forward steadily since that time.

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Lethbridge & District Genealogy Society