The Goff-Gough Family Association (“GGFA”) was one of five family associations featured in an article in the April-June 2021 National Genealogical Society (“NGS”) Magazine. Gail S. Blankenau, a professional genealogist, speaker and author, wrote the article, It’s All In The Family: Benefits of Family Associations, about how some family societies have survived and thrived in today’s world. Blankenau contacted the GGFA in August 2020 and in early October, Blankenau interviewed GGFA President Leslie Jaye Goff and Treasurer Phil Goff via Zoom.
Besides the GGFA, the other organizations featured were the Nickerson Family Association, John More Association, Rose Family Association and Timen Stidden Society. The Rose organization and GGFA are surnamed-oriented while the others were founded as common-ancestor-focused. The Timen Stidden Society has since broadened its membership by welcoming descendants with surname variants and all who have an interest in the New Sweden colony in Delaware.
The article noted that the Internet has been a boon to some family associations and contributed to the decline and demise of others. Embracing the digital and social media revolution have been important adaptations. A strong web site and Facebook presence are necessary to reach descendants with a casual interest in their family, as well as serious researchers. Many family societies today view membership as a continuum. Facebook is a point of entry to get acquainted with a family association, continuing to full membership, with all access to exclusive content and contributing to the overall health of the organization. Digitized records are a big draw for full family association members.
The most successful family societies have an active group of volunteers and a governing board. The volunteers are the driving force behind many benefits of family associations. The key areas for many are website development and maintenance, genetic genealogy, regular gatherings of members and a periodic newsletter. Some common-ancestor-oriented family associations own an ancestral home, where reunions are held.
In selecting the GGFA for inclusion in the article, Blankenau observed that the GGFA “website indicates that you have a lively and active group.” She was right! The GGFA has evolved with the times over its 40-year history. Today, the GGFA has nearly one thousand Facebook and full members living around the globe, a brand new website as of June 2021, a growing YDNA project and a Gathering that has been held every two years since 1995. Most importantly, the GGFA has a passionate group of volunteers who enjoy working with each other for the benefit of all who share an interest in the history of all variants of the Gough and Goff surnames.