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About us... our history

The Irish Genealogical Society of Wisconsin (I.G.S.W.) is a non-profit educational organization committed to promoting an understanding of Irish Genealogy.


Our Society

Founded in 1992, the Irish Genealogical Society of Wisconsin (I.G.S.W.) is a non-profit educational organization committed to promoting an understanding of Irish family research, Irish-American history, Irish history and Irish culture.

Our objectives are:

  • to stimulate genealogical communication, education, interest and exchange of information, especially as it relates to Irish genealogy, to/with individuals, libraries and organization.

  • to provide instruction and/or assistance through publications, educational programs, workshops, seminars, and/or trips for genealogical research for members and the general public.

  • to foster careful documentation and promote scholarly genealogical research, writing, and publication.

  • to foster and encourage interest and research in Irish heritage and culture.

  • to encourage the collection, preservation and maintenance of genealogical and historical materials.

  • to champion ethical standards and practices in the field of genealogy. 

How It All Began

by Jane Mahar Maher

Through the years, in the Genealogy Tent at Irish Fest, visitors asked if there were plans for an Irish genealogical society. As time passed these inquiries became more persistent.

In January 1991, Josephine (Jo) Christon, Patricia (Pat) Geyh, Jane Maher and Susan Radaj began meeting for the purpose of deciding if such an organization was feasible. They felt the need was indeed great, and a steering committee of sixteen was made up of Josephine Christon, Joan Cummings, Patricia Geyh, Mary Kukowski, Jane Maher, William Maher, Elizabeth Martin, Robert Martin, Helen McGuire, Gerald Naughton, Susan Radaj, Patricia Schmidt, John Shanahan, June Shanahan, Rosemary Walsh and Sharon Walsh. We were joined at times by Debbie Little, Jane Trucksa, Jeane Yigit and Pat Sadowski.

This group continued meeting each month at the homes of Bill and Jane Maher and Betty and Bob Martin, and two banks allowed us use of their meeting rooms. The committee wrote a draft set of by-laws to be approved at future meetings, located a meeting place and planned the first two issues of the Irish Genealogical Quarterly.

Jane Maher accepted chairmanship of the committee; June Shanahan accepted the responsibility of treasurer and Rosemary Walsh recording secretary. Bob Martin chaired the group that wrote the by-laws and Pat Geyh planned the first year's program.

Quoting from the IRISH GENEALOGICAL QUARTERLY Vol 1 No 1 "Various efforts were made by members of the steering committee to find a suitable place to hold the IGSW meetings with little results. Genealogists, however, enjoy helping other genealogists and so it happened that a member of the French Canadian/Acadian Genealogists of Wisconsin, Jacques Robillard, told Pat Geyh about the Shorewood Library Community Center. Jane Maher made the contact along with Shorewood resident Gertrude Greenya. Chris Noland, head librarian of the Shorewood Library, graciously made the arrangements and the Irish Genealogical Society of Wisconsin had an excellent location for its meetings."

On Monday February 3, 1992 at 7:00 pm in the Shorewood Wisconsin Library Community Center eighty-seven people gathered for the first meeting of the Irish Genealogical Society of Wisconsin. The steering committee was more that pleased that their work had met with such a positive response in the Wisconsin Irish community.

"And so an idea, a dream, has become a reality. Soon the by-laws will be approved and a board of directors will be elected. Then it will be important that all members share ideas about the path they wish the organization to take. The future is in their hands."

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