MGS Member Genealogy Project

One day at the MGS Resource Centre, I opened the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet, and it was filled with papers. I pulled one out, and “what to my wondering eyes should appear” but a MGS member submitted pedigree chart, filled in by hand on an 11’ x 17” sheet of paper, folded in half, with filled-in family biography sheets and family group sheets stuffed between the folded chart! Some were typed on a typewriter. Many were hand written. They were dated from the 1980’s for the most part.

The “cover letter” of the folded pedigree chart welcomed new members to submit their family pedigree chart, family group sheet(s), and write a biography of themselves and/or their family member(s). It was obvious that the MGS collected genealogies from their member’s which makes sense when you think that we are a genealogical society. But somewhere along the line, this practice stopped, and no more genealogies were solicited from members. Canada’s Privacy Act came into force in 1983, and suddenly there were laws and consequences to breaking those laws, and the practice of collecting genealogies at MGS stopped.


In the ensuing years, the MGS has expanded a section of the Resource Library for donated genealogies—there are privately printed books, binders, and portfolios with photos, family group sheets, birth/marriage/death certificates, and more. Amongst the Executive and Council of MGS there have been conversations about our policies and procedures for soliciting and accepting genealogies. We are wrestling with privacy laws, donated personal information, and the resounding question of ‘how can we be a genealogical society without collecting genealogies?’

Those who came before us wrestled with these questions and created the Manitoba Name Index (MANI) to collect data on Manitoba Names, and you all have experience with that index. With the updating of the software that holds the MANI data, we now have the opportunity to do so much more with our software. What would you like to see?

3.1 The Society is an incorporated, non-profit, charitable organization duly incorporated under the laws of the Province of Manitoba with the following objectives:

3.1.1. To promote and encourage the study of genealogy and the compilation of accurate and complete genealogies in the province of Manitoba.
3.1.2. To collect and preserve information, books, manuscripts, and other related material relevant to such genealogical study.
3.1.3 To encourage and instruct members in the ethical practices, correct methods and effective techniques of genealogical research.
3.1.4 To produce journals and other publications which may from time to time be authorized by the Society, which will further the objectives of the Society.

To address past, present and future member-donated genealogies and in what form MGS will pursue the objectives of our society in relation to these genealogies, the Project’s Committee is asking for members to step forward to work on our MGS Member Genealogy Project. We want your help in establishing a Policy and a Procedure for the society to follow in regard to this topic.

We anticipate a few meetings to discuss and work out what we want our Society to do in regards to member donated genealogies. Will we incorporate them into MANI, and how will we do that? Will we fill our resource library with shelves of donated materials? How much space will be allotted per donation? What criteria will we follow? Does MGS have a stewardship role for member genealogies or Manitoba genealogies? Physical storage vs digital storage? Your input and help are needed to establish a framework that the MGS can follow with regards to the soliciting and collecting of Manitoba (and beyond?) genealogies.

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