Mount Vernon Genealogical Society - Founded 1991
Founded 1991

1500 Shenandoah Road
Alexandria, Virginia 22308

Special Interest Groups (SIG)

“Bring It to the Board”
This is a new event organized by MVGS President, Margaret Powell, to give members an opportunity to meet in-person with board members. The purpose is to discuss your ideas, questions, or concerns.  We will meet the 3rd Tuesday of September after the monthly membership meeting. Recognizing you'll have ideas, questions, or concerns throughout the year, feel free to email at any time. 

Field Trip/Road Trip SIG
Have you ever wanted to visit a repository with genealogy friends and fellow researchers for a day of research? This SIG is for you! The Field Trip/Road Trip SIG will visit a different repository each session. We will carpool (as much as possible) and plan to have lunch together as a break from our research. 
The Field Trip/Road Trip SIG is designed as an opportunity to travel together to various repositories within a three-hour driving radius. The times for the Field Trip/Road Trip will vary depending on the repository location and operating hours. Plan on a long day for something like the Library of Virginia or the New Jersey Archives. For close-in repositories such as the DAR Library or the Library of Congress, options for public transportation are available in addition to carpooling. 
This SIG is not designed as an introduction to each repository. Participants should have some knowledge of the repository being visited or plan to speak with someone at the repository for an introduction to the facility upon arrival. 
The SIG will meet quarterly on the Fourth Friday of the month. Our inaugural Field Trip will be held on Friday 22 July 2022 to the DAR Library in downtown DC. For more information or to sign up, contact Stephanie Campbell at

New England SIG
The special interest group for colonial New England genealogy will no longer meet regularly at the Mt. Vernon Genealogical Society Research Library and the McLean Family History Center. Instead, if there’s something you want to discuss on colonial New England, contact Linda MacLachlan at to make an appointment, or just come to one of the Centers below while she is staffing it:
  • McLean Family History Center, 2034 Great Falls Street in Falls Church, VA, any Friday between 9:30 am and 1 pm.  
  • MVGS Research Library, 1500 Shenandoah Avenue in Alexandria, VA, on the 2nd or 3rd Wednesday of any month between 10 am and 2 pm.

Writing Family History SIG
This group is intended for genealogists who may have done a lot of research but have written little or nothing.  Participants will learn that writing family history is a different and equally challenging proposition, but one with satisfactions and discoveries of its own.  The idea is to get something on paper, even if it's just a paragraph or a page, and then have other beginning writers suggest ways to make it clearer and more interesting.  The emphasis will be on storytelling rather than scholarship, but we’ll also include questions of evidence and documentation.  Meetings will be held via ZOOM on the third Monday of each month at 3:00 PM (regardless of holidays); Paul Phelps will instruct and may be contacted at

The Genealogy Community on Social Media SIG
Connecting to the genealogy community on social media can add value to discovering your family history. Social media gives us the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals from all over the world; those we can work together with as a community to enhance each other’s journey.  The goal of this group is to help you understand how to use social media, learn about available resources on the various platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Twitter) and how to make the most of your time. The group will meet monthly on the 4th Friday at 7pm via Zoom. Grab your glass of wine or drink of choice and join me to explore connecting to the genealogy community on social media.  To register for this SIG, send an email to

African American Special Interest Group (AA-SIG)
The African-American SIG has been formed to explore the rich history of our ancestors and their experiences.  A combination of learning tools (group discussions, computer searches, lectures, presentations, case studies, site visits, etc.) will assist the genealogist in uncovering clues that help tell and document their stories.  Generations to come will appreciate and enjoy the care that went into preserving this bit of history.
Meetings are normally scheduled on the second Tuesday of the month from 1:00-3:00 pm.  When re-opened and available, meetings will be held in the MVGS Research Center, Hollin Hall Senior Center.  Meanwhile, be sure to register for a Zoom invite by sending an email to

Computer Technology and Applications SIG 
This SIG is instructor-led by Larry Dempsey and Emily Cole. Guided by questions and interaction from the participants, the goal is to discuss and demonstrate how one can use computers to make genealogical research less complicated.  Meetings will cover topics such as computer settings, features of genealogical programs/applications and genealogical websites.  Attendees should have a basic understanding of the applications and computers they use. To ensure we address your questions, participants are urged to send their inquiries to the email address COMPUTERSIG@OUTLOOK.COM at least two days before a SIG meeting.  Attendees can bring their own laptops. (Computer systems are limited to Windows 10 and 11 as well as IOS 15.)   

Initially, the SIG will meet on the 4th Wednesday in the months of January through June and October between 2 PM and 3:30PM in the MVGS Research Center. 

Using Photos and Other Images to Enhance Your Family Story SIG 
The purpose of this SIG is to help identify and use photos and other visuals to better tell your family story.  Perhaps you have old photos that you are wondering about – who are those people and what are the stories behind those faces?  Most everyone can relate to this challenge.
Photos of ancestors can add human dimension to a story.  We'll explore possible public sources for your ancestor’s photos. The possibilities are not limited to photos of people but also places where they lived, the ships that brought them here, where they served in the military and other life events.  In addition, there are other types of images that can be useful from historical publications.  Historic maps can help illustrate our immigrants' origins and their journey to and within America.  Property maps can show where they lived and possibly explain marriage patterns.  We will discuss the wide range of sources available for finding these materials and how to include them in our family history document.
Leo Dougherty will lead this group.  Meetings will be held bi-monthly with a starting date and location to be determined. 
Some of the topics covered will be:
  • Family photos (strategies for identifying individuals and digital preservation) Sometimes we can see hints of our current family's faces in those of earlier generations.  Identifying one person in a group photo may help identify others.  Weddings, awards, sports team photos. Photos of family homes/businesses – new and old (and maybe linking them to maps).
  • Public sources of photos, images and maps.  Even if you don’t have old family pictures there are still public sources that might portray your family members. Stock images from history give a general impression of the times and events that our ancestors experienced (life in old NYC, victims of the Potato Famine, Normandy Landings, etc.) Immigrant ship photos (I've found several sites with photos of specific passenger ships for those people who know what ship their ancestors came on.  Documents (birth certificates, marriage licenses, wills, 
  • How to make photos in your collection publicly available so they may benefit others. Perhaps you have random images taken in an identifiable place and time that would be of interest to a local historic society.  Retrieving images from newspapers archives – online and physical. 
  • How to edit photos to enhance them or to select just the important parts.
  • Grabbing images from home movies.
  • Library of Congress Birds Eye Views of Cities (surprisingly they are not limited to the big cities)
  • Photos/maps relating to military service, etc.
  • Finding images from local Historical Societies (town photos, businesses, factories, mines, etc.)
  • Sourcing old post card collections showing what towns or buildings looked like in the past.
To sign up or for more information, send an email to: