During the spring and summer of 1977, a few people met while reading censuses at the Torrance Civic Center Library. Spurred by a common interest in genealogy, they decided in the fall that they would organize a local society for people with the same interest.
On September 21, 1977, they held their first organizational meeting at the Augustan Society Library in Torrance, with nine people present. The name was chosen that night, as well as a nominating committee and a by-laws committee appointed by the chairman. Goals and purposes were enthusiastically discussed. The purpose was agreed to be
To collect and preserve genealogical material and historical data, to instruct and assist in genealogical research, and to publish private and public records and educational articles.
At the first regular meeting on October 19, 1977, the membership consisted of ten charter members: Patricia Kirkwood, Maude E. Sellman, Nancy Lundy Moore, Joyce L. Spencer, Lila H. Finne, Shirley Coen, Penney Howard, Diane Scatlin, Margaret Moody, E. Rae Miller, Sir Rodney Hartwell (Honorary Life Member), and five new members who joined that evening. The Constitution and By-laws were adopted. On October 20, the treasurer opened the bank account with the magnificent amount of $57.00. The Society was off and running!
Since that time, members adjusted to many changes; meeting places ranged from those first get-togethers at the Augustan Society to the Beverly Hills Savings and Loan at Crenshaw and Rolling Hills Road, and finally to the Torrance Civic Center Library where the meetings have been ever since.
Members worked hard to make the society a viable organization. They volunteered many, many hours as library aides; they donated energy, cash and belongings to make those early garage sales, book sales and bake sales successful; they arranged splendid seminars, both as fund-raisers and as educational experiences.
There have been classes for beginners and intermediates, fine speakers for programs and seminars, including names well known throughout the genealogical community such as Noel Stevenson, plus Southern California’s Gladys Muller, Mary Schwartz, Dr. Dean White and Barbara Buckwalter, to our own society’s Phil Pinter, Rita Meistrell and Cecilia Laxton, and so many interesting others we wish we could list.
There have been workshop meetings and panel discussions. Other willing members have arranged carpools or bus trips to libraries such as the LDS. At one time there were both day and evening meetings.
Some of the society’s ambitious first projects were a newsletter and the well-received quarterly Kinships, and beginning to record information from gravestones in the Roosevelt Cemetery in Gardena.
And from a small stack of dusty cartons in the library basement, our research collection of books and periodicals has been built up through purchases by the Society, the generous offerings of members and others, the efforts of volunteer catalogers, staffers, and “beginners helpers” and a lot of just plain housekeeping.
We thank the founders and first members for their foresight, dedication and hard work.
May we continue to grow and learn join together to carry on the ideals of the South Bay Cities Genealogical Society.