The Immigrant Genealogical Society (IGS) began in 1982 in the back of a print shop located in North Hollywood, California. Elisabeth Sharp, an avid genealogist, opened the Sharp Copy Service, a much-employed resource to copy the records that she needed to do her genealogy.

In the back of the shop, she also hosted informal meetings of a group of like-minded people wanting to research their families’ immigration stories. This led to much correspondence between the group and members of various German genealogy societies.

As a result of this research and correspondence, Elisabeth Sharp and Gerda Haffner, a German genealogist, formed a strong alliance in their quest to locate their ancestors and descendants of those who left Germany. The IGS collection grew as Elisabeth and Gerda gathered research materials both from the US and from Germany.

Elisabeth Sharp
Gerda Haffner

Incorporation and Growth

In 1989, IGS moved to its present location in Burbank, CA, a place to house and share the extensive personal collection of genealogical and historical publications that were amassed over the years by the society’s founders, both who are now deceased. Since 1989, the collection continued to expand, funded by active members and donors, and in 1997 the library doubled in size, expanding into the adjacent storefront (1310-A) on Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank.

In 2000, a Pomeranian Special Interest Group (PSIG) was formed. PSIG assumed the publication of Die Pommerschen Leute (DPL), a periodical started by Myron Gruenwald (deceased) of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Under the guidance of Annette “Toni” Perrone, DPL enjoyed much success and proved to be an invaluable resource for anyone with Pomeranian roots.

Present Day

In 2021, long-time President and original member, Marilyn Deatherage resigned from the board, and M. Gordon Seyffert was elected to replace her. Sadly, our dear Marilyn passed in May of 2022. Page 4 of the June, 2022 IGS newsletter was devoted to remembering her.

In response to pressures imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Gordon led IGS in a major effort to streamline the operation by reducing our physical footprint to occupy the original half of the storefront that was occupied since 1989 (1310-B). The downsizing effort required scaling the library collection to focus on our unique German collection and those US states where Germans migrated, and in this digital age, removing items that are readily available online.

Marilyn Deatherage
Gordon Seyffert

In July of 2021, Toni Perrone helped to establish the PSIG as a separate non-profit organization under the name Pomeranian Special Interest Group. Despite her passing in October of the same year, the organization remains dedicated to carrying on her and Myron Gruenwald’s legacies, and the venerable Die Pommerschen Leute will continue to be published under new leadership. Find them at pomeranianews.org.