The Beginnings of IGSM...
The Irish Genealogical Society of Michigan was the dream of one woman, Shirley Phillips. For many years Shirley had been a member of other genealogical societies in the Detroit area, and she couldn’t understand why there wasn’t an Irish group. Certainly there were a lot of people of Irish descent in the Detroit area, so why not an Irish Genealogical Society?
In early July 1995, Shirley Phillips noticed an article that the Gaelic League was hosting a talk by Noel Van Gorden, at the time, head of the Burton Historical Collection of the Detroit Public Library. Shirley then called a friend and attended the meeting. Shirley got together with other genealogists in the Detroit area to form a core group.
She tapped people from the Oakland County Genealogical Society, the Detroit Society for Genealogical Research, the Western Wayne Genealogical Society, among others, who had an interest in Irish genealogy. Shirley then became the President. She began posting notices at the local Irish Social Clubs and finally on Saturday, February 24, 1996, the first meeting of the Irish Genealogical Society of Michigan was held at the Gaelic League in Detroit.
Shirley attributed much of the successful formulation of the Irish Genealogical Society of Michigan to Kathleen O’Neill, past president of the Gaelic League, who provided a meeting place for the IGSM.
The IGSM is a non-denominational organization focusing on genealogical research in all thirty-two counties of the Emerald Isle. The society is open to everyone! The group has grown steadily, and is now comprised of over one hundred and twenty five active members.
Meetings are normally held on the third or fourth Saturday of the month, from September through June, except December. Schedule changes do occur because of Gaelic League events.
Beginning at 12:00 pm and continuing until 1:15 pm, interested members gather to use the resources in the Shirley Phillips Memorial Library.
The regular meeting begins at 1:30 pm with a speaker. Some past topics of speeches have been: The Irish Linen Industry in Northern Ireland, Irish Genealogy on the Internet, Interpreting Church Records Written in Latin, and Planning a Research Trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
The steady growth has been evident in other ways, also. The Gaelic League has graciously provided room for the Library which is primarily for Irish Genealogical Research. With some timely purchases and donations, the Library is equipped with three Pentium IV-based computers, two laser printers, a microfiche reader, copier/scanner, file cabinets and an expanding collection of Irish Genealogy resources! The Librarian is always looking for books, newspapers, periodicals, and CDs about people of Irish descent, particularly in the Detroit/Michigan/Ontario area.