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Picture of the Rogue River
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History of the Rogue Valley Genealogical Society and Its Library

Our society's humble roots are with a group of genealogical researchers meeting in Gold Hill, Oregon in 1964 and referring to themselves as the "Progenitors Forum of Southern Oregon." In the spring of 1966, the group met, reorganized, elected officers, and purchased their first book. Thus, the Rogue Valley Genealogical Society (RVGS) was born.

The Society's book collection grew to fill a box, which the librarian, Ora Strom, stored under her bed from 1969 to 1970. She brought that box to the monthly RVGS meetings. Subsequently the Library collection was moved to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) building on Juanipero Way in Medford. In 1974 the collection had become too large to be housed in the LDS building, so it was moved to a converted garage at the home of Jennie Deardorff.

On September 1, 1978, our president, Wilma Wellman, received the articles of incorporation that granted the Society Our 501[c] [3] status. The paid membership had grown to 75 at that time. Follow this link, Founders and Early Donors to see a list of these early supporters of the Society through 1980.

In 1982 the collection was moved to a 540 square foot upstairs room in the Franklin Cuthbert Building at 125 South Central Avenue in downtown Medford where the rent was $75 per month. Some 2000 patrons seeking information about their ancestors visited the library at this location.

In 1990 the library was moved next door to an 1800-square-foot downstairs space at 133 South Central Avenue by the then president, Bruce Duncan. A photo of the building containing that space is shown second down on the right.

In 1998, RVGS began issuing Rogue Valley Pioneer Certificates and Early Settler Certificates to document local family histories and recognize the accomplishments of early Southern Oregon residents, many of whom arrived in Oregon Territory prior to 1865. To learn more about the Pioneer and Early settler Certificate Program, follow this link, Certificate Program.

In 1999 the then Society president, Joyce Jarvis, initiated a Five Year Pledge Drive to raise $100,000 for the purpose of purchasing a building. Subsequently RVGS was accepted to membership in Jackson County History Museums Association, which allowed it to receive Jackson County Tax funds. In 2001 a 2500 square foot building at 95 Houston Road in Phoenix, Oregon (third down on the right) was leased with an option to purchase. The Society began offering genealogy classes in the building, but the monthly Society meetings had to be held in another somewhat distant building.

In recognition of the growing importance of the internet as a source of genealogical information, the library purchased a computer to permit online access and set up its own website, We renamed the library as the “Jackson County Genealogy Library” to make us more readily identifiable by online patrons not living in the Rogue Valley. In 2007 we began a second website,, to separate Society news and information from the Library's growing number of online databases. Due to a change in federal funding we, along with other nonprofit organizations in the Rogue Valley and elsewhere, were no longer receiveing taxpayer support. Nonetheless through the generosity of its growing membership, the Society was able to repay its mortgage by 2008. Follow this link, Donors List, for a list of those who contributed to the library from 1981 through 2011.

By the fall of 2011 our collection had grown to over 20,000 items and our patrons had access to six online computers. Through our websites we were offering worldwide access to the information in the library.

At this point the Society realized that the library's facilities had been stretched to the breaking point. Our paid membership had grown to over 500, so it was decided by the Board of Directors to purchase a larger building. The library was moved to its present location at 3405 South Pacific Highway in Medford in September of that year. Many Members pitched in to help complete the massive renovation required and many others donated generously to the renovation efforts. Follow this link, New Building Donors, for a list of those contributing to the purchase and renovation of the building. The new 5000 square foot facility (last down on the right) not only allows the collection to grow, but permits the Society to accommodate larger classes and the monthly meetings.

RVGS is a leader in educating the public as well as its members on genealogical research. Society members are dedicated, knowledgeable family historians and teachers who inform and instruct community citizens on genealogical research techniques. Members are available for presentations to schools and community groups upon request. Volunteer librarians attend regular training sessions on the collection and research procedures. The strength of RVGS is in the unusually high number of members who regularly volunteer their time and energy to staff the Jackson County Genealogy Library, abstract genealogical data, provide research services and educational opportunities.

RVGS has served Southern Oregon and Northern California with distinction. Our record demonstrates that we are an organization well-qualified to fulfill our mission; "to establish, equip, develop and maintain a research library of genealogical materials of historical interest for use by Society members and the general public; to preserve and protect documents of genealogical and historical interest; to inform and educate members and the general public on the value of genealogical research in preserving the past for future generations." Genealogy is our link from the past to the future.

The Society's Board of Directors is eternally grateful to its many donors for the generous support that has made our growth possible. The entire staff of the Society and Library comprises volunteers, but mortgage payments, utility bills, subscription fees, and book purchases still require funds. We ask for your continued support to keep us afloat.

If you would like to make a secure online donation to help support our society, follow this link:
Photo of the Franklin Cuthbert Building at 125 South Central Avenue

Photo of the building at 133 South Central Avenue

Photo of the Phoenix Building

Picture of the New JCGL Library Building