Sunday, March 28, 2010

Program Planning--Got Ideas?

It's time for us to plan the next 4 to 6 months of SGS educational programs, covering June through October/November/December. Our Director of Education, Jean Roth, and I will be meeting the first week in April to see what we can put together. Right now I'm looking for ideas. It would be really great if we could get a discussion going in the comments section of this blog [just click on "comments" below and post your thoughts].
SGS offers classes [either one-shot or multiple sessions], workshops [one day events, 3 or more hours], and programs [evening/weekend/daytime]. The "Intermediate Research Series" we started in January has been incredibly popular. Topics presented so far are advanced census, naturalization [both by Karen Sipe], searching online databases [Gary Zimmerman], getting the most from your Family History Center [Bob Mullen],  and Dating Old Photographs [Marilyn Rose]. Remaining programs in this series include maps and gazeteers [April 10th] and travel for family history [May 1st]. We've had monthly programs on DNA for Genealogy [Larry Jones] and MS PowerPoint for genealogists [Jeff Otjen]. Our April program meeting will be on the German Annenerbes [April 18th]. And we've held multiple Brick Wall and informal chat sessions. Classes offered this quarter have included all-day beginning genealogy and a two-session beginning computer genealogy. We are co-sponsoring a 5-week class in Swedish genealogy with the Swedish Cultural Center and the Swedish-Finn Historical Society [April 10-May9]. And, of course, our special interest groups--Canadian, computer, german, irish, Pennsylvania, Illinois--have continued to meet and offer educational programs. question to you is: What are we missing? What topics should we try to offer in the coming months? Are there speakers you would particularly like to hear? Would YOU like to give a presentation?
Please leave your comments below for all to see or email me privately at I hope to hear from you!

Monday, March 22, 2010

SGS Open House a Success!

A big THANK YOU to all who helped make the SGS Open House on Sunday a big success!
We had over 50 people visit SGS on Sunday afternoon.
It was quite a lively place, with 4 stations set up to help genealogy "newbies" get started.
38 people attended the "Getting Started" talks and many got help finding their ancestors in the US Census from our look-up volunteers.
Other volunteers helped visitors find information in our library.
And yet another member helped folks fill out Family Group Sheets.
It was great to see such a high level of activity at SGS.
We plan on hosting another open house next September and hope to get more members involved. Please consider sharing an afternoon helping novices get started. It was a lot of fun!
Special thanks to Linda, Chris and Cary for their intensive cleaning effort to clear space in the storeroom and remove the piles of boxes of books and papers from the back work area. It was great having that table available for setting up four look-up stations.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Appreciating where we live

My husband and I just returned from an extended trip to the Arizona desert. We've stayed at this place for varying lengths of time the last three years, but this year I figured I'd take along a genealogy research project or two to work on. I had visions of having at least one project completed and several articles on various ancestors partially completed. None of that occurred, even though we had many wet, cool days that kept us inside.
I guess I'm just spoiled by living in a city with lots of genealogy resources. We have the wonderful library collections at SGS, the Seattle Public Library, and the Fiske Library--all with both books and online genealogy databases available to us, not to mention interlibrary loan services. We have a branch of the National Archives right across the street from our SGS offices. We have numerous Family History Centers. We have high speed internet just about everywhere.
Where we stayed in the Arizona desert was pretty much the opposite in terms of genealogy research capabilities. We stay in a park model trailer in a trailer park near Quartzsite, AZ--in the desert in southwestern Arizona. We were 12 miles from Quartzsite and about 100 miles from any place with a permanent population of 30,000 or more. There is a Family History Center in Quartzsite, but their driveway washed out in a storm the day after we got down there, so the center was closed the entire first week. When I went in to order a couple of films and use their computer in week 2, I learned that (a) the films wouldn't arrive for 3-4 weeks [so don't bother ordering them], (b) their printing microfilm reader was dead and they didn't expect it to be repaired any time soon, and (c) their internet service provider wasn't compatible with the Salt Lake City computers, so there was no access to any of the FHL online databases. The next closest FHC was 65 miles away, definitely too far for running back and forth to use their computers or films.
Yes, there is a library in Quartzsite. Yes, it has some public computers with internet access, but you're limited to 30 minutes on any one day and they have no genealogical databases. They're also only open until 4 pm on weekdays; no weekend hours at all.
Yes, there was wifi service available in the trailer park, and I paid dearly for it. Unfortunately, even though there was a wifi antenna attached to our rental trailer, we couldn't always access it, the speed varied from 24 mbps down to 2 mbps, and the connection mysteriously cut out without notice about every 5 minutes. Not really very compatible with trying to do research!
So...enjoy the genealogical research benefits of living in the Seattle area. Not everyone has easy access to the wealth of resources we do.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Will SGS Benefit from NBC/Ancestry's WDYTYA?

Two days after I wrote my previous post about NBC/Ancestry's "Who Do You Think You Are?", Ancestry started sending emails to genealogical societies about helping them advertise their show....and suggesting ways we could leverage the show to our own benefit.
SGS is hosting an open house after the third edition of the show, on Sunday, March 21st, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. We're hoping that people who have been watching "WDYTYA?" and thinking about their own family histories will start looking for some help....and will find SGS. We'll be running 30-minute "Getting Started" classes on the hour along with having stations set up to help find ancestors in the US Census, learn about our library, and start filling out family group sheets and pedigree charts. If you'd like to help on Sunday, March 21st, please contact Cary Bright at
If you're not available on the 21st, how about talking up SGS and our Open House to your friends and neighbors, along with suggesting that they watch the TV show on Friday evenings. Except for a few too many close-ups of Sarah Jessica Parker "oohing" and "aahing" and saying "OMG!", I thought the first show was pretty interesting. I can't imagine walking into a local museum or NEHGS and having them hand me the kinds of materials that were handed to SJP, but then again, I'm not a celebrity. Hopefully people will realize that finding the kinds of documents and information that were handed to her takes time and effort. I'll be stopping at the El Dorado County Museum in Placerville, CA next week. Do you think they'll have a letter about one of my Gold Rush relatives for me? Hope springs eternal!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Grant Received!

Sorry for the delay in posting, folks, but I've been awaiting formal notice about our 4Culture (King County's heritage funding organization) proposal. We received it today, and YES! We received an operations sustaining grant for 2010 in the amount of $3500. That's enough to cover one month's rent and utilities plus a mailing or two.
This grant alone won't make SGS suddenly financially flush, but $3500 represents 100 new individual memberships, a significant addition to our bottom line.
This grant proposal was a team effort by several Board members, with review by several long-time active members in SGS. Without this level of support, I'm sure we would not have been successful in this endeavor.
We anticipate applying for a similar grant through the City of Seattle's Civic Partners Program this Spring. If you'd like to help with this process, please let me know []. If you know of any other grant-making organizations to which SGS might apply, please let me know that, too.