Bloomington man recognized for strides in genealogy – Bloomington Pantagraph

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Bloomington man recognized for strides in genealogy

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Analisa Trofimuk

BLOOMINGTON — When George Perkins V was 13, he used a tape recorder to capture stories his grandmother told about their family. 

Since then, Perkins has dedicated more than 45 years of his life to genealogical contributions in Illinois. For decades, he has volunteered, conducted research, taught genealogy classes, studied social sciences in college, has been featured as a guest speaker and expert and worked as an archivist. 

Which is why he recently received the Volkel Medal of Honor awarded by the Illinois State Genealogical Society

“This is my passion,” said Perkins, an archivist for the McLean County Museum of History. 

The recognition for those who have made significant contributions to the field of genealogy was organized under Lowell M. Volkel, an archivist at the Illinois State Archives. It was created in October 1968 and is awarded during even-numbered years. 

The Illinois State Genealogical Society is a nonprofit, educational organization that seeks to preserve data and information pertaining to Illinois residents and families. 

Society President Rand Veerman said no one is more deserving than Perkins. 

“His contributions to this field are incredible,” Veerman said. “ … George is one of those solid people who is always there, always ready to help.  This award is a token of the gratitude felt by thousands for the help they have received from George over his lifetime of helping others.”

Perkins said he knew at a very young age that genealogy was a field he wanted to learn more about. His father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great grandfather all share the same name. “I wanted to know who the other people were who shared my name,” he said. 

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After hearing stories from family members as a teenager, he decided to pursue a degree in social sciences at Illinois State University. 

His wife, Pat Perkins, is also involved in the field and is the current president of the McLean County Genealogical Society. Together, the couple has been to 116 state and national genealogy conferences. 

“She lets me indulge in my passion,” George Perkins said. “…It’s one of the reasons I love her.” 

He added that young adults and teenagers now who are interested in exploring their family history should not delay their research. With the technological strides made since Perkins was a teenager, he said there is no reason to wait especially when information can be found and stored much easier than it could be years ago. 

“Talk to your parents, talk to your grandparents,” he said. “Don’t just get names and dates. Learn their stories.” 

The ISGS frequently hosts webinars and virtual conferences for those interested in learning about genealogy. A conference scheduled for Oct. 24 will feature nationally known presenters covering topics including an Introduction to DNA and Bio-Parents for Peg and Donna – DNA Case Study. All of the virtual sessions are recorded and can be viewed up to 60 days after the conference date.  

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Contact Analisa Trofimuk at (309) 820-3244. Follow her on Twitter: @AnalisaTro

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