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Genealogical society celebrates its 40th birthday

Date: 4/5/2013

By Carley Dangona

AGAWAM — The Western Massachusetts Genealogical Society will celebrate its 40th anniversary April 6 with an informational event about the process of tracing one's lineage.

The festivities will take place at the Agawam Senior Center, located at 954 Main St. The event is free and open to the public. Featured activities will include guest lecturers and genealogical projects on display.

"The society was established in 1972, but was officially incorporated in February of 1973," Susan Leverson, treasurer, said. "It's amazing that genealogy is now in the forefront [of hobbies] — so many people are interested. It's nice to see the hobby grow."

She attributed the enthusiasm for it to the number of readily available records that are now online and accessible through websites such as and

Leverson said that members of the society, in addition to performing their own research, also respond to requests for information from the public. "We are here to serve as a resource," she stated.

She added that the society is open to all people regardless of their experience with researching genealogy. Leverson said that current members would be on hand to discuss the society's mission and its class offerings.

Two guest speakers will discuss the science of genealogy. Dave Robison will discuss how to refine and narrow Internet searches. Bruce Cortis will discuss his research project on "Michael Dowling — Blizzard Boy."

In December 1880, Dowling was a young boy who became lost in a blizzard after falling from a wagon. He survived, but both of his legs and one of his arms was amputated due to frostbite.

The society meets the first Wednesday of each month from 6 to 8 p.m. at the senior center, from September to June.

It offers computer research workshops on the third and fourth Thursdays of the month from 6 to 8 p.m. at the center. Classes are free for members and cost $10 for non-members.

New members are welcome. An annual membership costs $20. For more information, visit