Research Your Scottish Ancestry

Robert WilbanksWest Valley Genealogical Society & Family History Society of Arizona

by Robert M. Wilbanks IV, B.A.
Chief Genealogist & Historian, C.S.A.

Regularly I talk about the importance of networking and continuing education. Last month I talked about several Arizona genealogy organizations, and their biggest events of the year happening in the coming months.

I’d like to elaborate more on the West Valley Genealogical Society ( As the largest genealogy society in Arizona, it operates its own genealogy library with over 4000 square feet of books and more, plus access to a wide variety of subscription-based genealogy databases.

The West Valley Genealogical Society and Library had its beginning in 1972 in Sun City (metro Phoenix), Arizona. Since that year they have grown to well over 700 members, who share a common interest – researching the lives of ancestors, while archiving and preserving their legacy. They welcome all those interested in pursuing family history – from the novice to the experienced researcher.

Membership in the Society offers a multitude of vehicles for education and collaborative research. A wide variety of classes are available which offer opportunities to enhance your genealogy knowledge and research skills. Monthly meetings – September through May – feature speakers presenting topics of interest to family researchers. The Society also offers Special Interest Groups which meet at scheduled times to pursue collaborative research related to specific areas of the United States, Canada and Europe. And lastly, as a dynamic educational organization, WVGS sponsors annual trips to the world-renowned, Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and also to the National Archives, Library of Congress and DAR Library in Washington DC.

The crown jewel of WVGS is its non-circulating Genealogy Research Library (now the largest in Arizona) whose shelves hold thousands of books, hundreds of periodical titles, CDs and a one-of-a-kind map collection. A computer lab offers free access to multiple genealogical websites including This library is also recognized by the Family History Library in Salt Lake City as an ‘affiliate library’. Thus, through this library you will have access to records on FamilySearch not available from home. This facility is managed, maintained and staffed by their membership – all volunteers with a great wealth of experience and knowledge.

West Valley Gennealogical Society

Their 2020 Annual Seminar (February 15th) will feature Dr. Thomas W. Jones, an award-winning writer, board-certified genealogist, editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, recipient of honors from genealogical organizations, and author of the textbooks Mastering Genealogical Proof and Mastering Genealogical Documentation. The topics at this all-day seminar are entitled: Topics Solving Problems with Original Records; Five Proven Techniques for Finding Your Ancestor’s European Origin; Systematically Using Autosomal DNA Test Results to Help Break Through Genealogical Brick Walls; Creating a Family History of Lasting Value.

Another genealogy organization in the metro Phoenix area is the Family History Society of Arizona ( The Family History Society of Arizona (FHSA) was established in 1983 to promote the study and worldwide research of member's family histories by instructing each member in the ethical principles and effective techniques of genealogical research, and to assist them in their preservation and dissemination of such research. With seven chapters around the valley, each meet a different day of the month with guest speakers on varying genealogy topics. They also have a Virtual Chapter that meets monthly.

Their 2020 Seminar and Annual Meeting will be March 20th and 21st featuring Maureen Taylor “The Photo Detective”, is a nationally recognized speaker and author, specializing in identifying old family photos. She will be presenting four different topics. The Special Friday Night Session features her talk entitled “Buns, Beards, Bodices, and Bustles: Understanding Ancestors Through Clothing”. Her Saturday topics are: Identifying and Dating Family Photographs; Eight Steps to Preserving Your Family Photographs; No Language Barrier: Immigrant Clues in Photographs.

I encourage you to attend either or both of these great Seminars. If I don’t see you at one of these events, I certainly expect and look forward to you visiting the Genealogy Tent at the C.S.A. 56th 2020 Annual Phoenix Scottish Games, March 7th and 8th.

This is another of a series of articles in which I show you the basics of searching for your family history, discussing the use of family records, public records, and online resources nationally and internationally, etc. The previous articles are now available on the Genealogy Section of this website.   See “Genealogy” in the menu options at the top of the web page.

Genealogy volunteers are needed for the Phoenix Scottish Games
March 7 and 8. Please read this "Call for Volunteers"