The History of the Baldwin County Genealogy Society

by founding member Dot Brown.

On October 25, 1981 the Pensacola News Journal published a story Dorothy “Dot” Brown wrote about tracing her family. That started the genealogy movement in Pensacola. She asked for queries which would be published in a new column called “Family Quest”. She got buried under responses. Soon, the West Florida Genealogical Society was formed and they were off and running with 180 members. It was a smashing success and they had lots of good people at the helm. One of those people was Berdine Rittenhouse, who had a master’s degree in history with emphasis on genealogy. Berdine had contacted Dot after the initial article was published and They met and got to be friends. Berdine had the knowledge and Dot  had the access to the newspaper and lots of enthusiasm. Berdine and her husband soon built a house in Spanish Cove. She suggested starting a genealogy society in Baldwin County, specifically Foley.

Berdine booked the Spanish Cove clubhouse for 17 March, 1987 and Dot published notice in the initial meeting in the Family Quest column.  There were between 25 or 30 people at the first meeting.  Next was to get a  steering committee together to write the bylaws and formally create a society.

They started this society by teaching basic genealogy research. After several months, the society began holding meetings in the Baldwin Heritage Museum, and they began accumulating a genealogical library. When they started this Society, the library collection was one book: The Red Book. Dot had a lot of books that publishers had sent her to review in the “Family Quest”column. She wrote a letter to Molly Peterson, Library Director of the Foley Public Library, and asked if they could house their books there with several concessions, such as no circulation. Molly agreed. That was the start of the collection.

The society bounced around from meeting place to meeting place, finally ending up at the Foley Public Library in April 2007. Then, thank God for Jeanette Bornholt. She became the genealogical section librarian and we were home at last.