Saturday, May 29, 2010

SGS Annual Meeting June 5th 1-3 PM

One week from today is the SGS Annual Meeting.
Did you just yawn?
I hope not.
This year's annual meeting will be a bit different than those in the past.
Yes, we'll read the minutes of our last quarterly Member Meeting.
Yes, we'll formally "swear in" the SGS officers and directors for 2010-11.
Yes, we'll thank this year's volunteers.
Hopefully that's where the similarity to previous years' meetings will end.

Although not required until next year, I'll be presenting an Annual Report to the Membership, summarizing the Board's activities during the year. Both as a whole and as individuals, your 2009-10 SGS Board of Directors has done an incredible amount of work. Hopefully you've noticed some of the changes this increased activity level has produced.

Following the Annual Report, our Library Trustees, who have been meeting since October, will present their recommendations for the SGS Library. While the Board will need to approve implementation of any or all of their ideas, we would like to receive feedback from our members before making those decisions. The Trustees have made a host of wide-ranging recommendations which, if implemented, will result in major changes to our Library and procedures used for maintaining it. If all of them are implemented, the SGS Library will be a much different place.

Let's face it. SGS and other genealogy societies are at a crossroads. The majority of genealogical research is being conducted via the internet, not in physical libraries. Genealogists meet in hyperspace more than geographic space to share their information. What does that mean for the future of SGS and our library collection?

Please come hear the Trustees' ideas and share your own.
We want to hear from you.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

SGS Spring Seminar a Rousing Success!

Today's Spring Seminar with Elissa Scalise Powell was a rousing success! About 140 people attended and nobody got wet! Elissa's 4 topics contained something for everyone. She was surprised (as was I) at the range of experience among our attendees--from total newbies to 30+ years of genealogy research. I hope everyone learned something new.
One of the tidbits I picked up was in the very first session called "Hiding Behind Their Skirts: Finding Women's Records." If you're looking for women's diaries or letters about a particular area, search for a local university that has a women's studies department. Chances are, they will have collected at least a few diaries from that area. Now why didn't I think of that?
I also like her idea of searching for "church neighbors"--people who attended the same church but maybe didn't live very close to your family. I've got lots of families back in East Tennessee in the late 1700s/early 1800s and have looked for individual events in the church records. Now I'm going to go back and look at some of the other family names in those records and see if I can find more family connections.
In her "Twenty Years of Stuff--Now What Do I Do?" talk, Elissa suggested creating Home, Working and Resource files. That really sounds like a great (and relatively simple) idea. Maybe I'll try it after I get over the shock of hearing that she doesn't take her laptop into courthouses and libraries. The will codicil example Elissa shared with us is very similar to one that was published in the SGS Bulletin several times back in 2008-09.
Elissa's third topic was "Rubik's Cube Genealogy: A New Twist on Your Old Data." I really like the idea of creating timelines for records for the areas in which I'm researching. The graphics Elissa presented make it clear where you should be looking for records for specific people. I'm embarrassed to learn that Family TreeMaker can generate some of them for me and I've never used that feature. And that Burpee seed planting zone map was a kick!
As a geographer, naturally I liked all the maps Elissa showed in her final talk, "How Did My Pennsylvania Ancestor Get Here? Migration Trails Out of the Keystone State." We saw the Burpee seed planting zone map again, but linking it to European planting zones was fascinating. Several people were interested in the ethnicity maps Elissa showed from the 1990 US Census. FYI, the University of Virginia Library has a historical census browser available online which allows you to create tables or maps from US Census data from 1790 to 1960 for states and counties. Check it out at
I hope everyone else who attended today's seminar learned as much as I did. My apologies for the mess-up on the lunches; it obviously isn't what we expected or thought we'd paid for. I'm looking forward to a relaxing dinner at Marie Callendar's and hope to see many SGS members there.
Thanks to all who attended and to Elissa for four wonderful presentations and to our SGS volunteers who made this happen, especially Jean Roth, Cary Bright, Linda Fitzgerald, Christine Schomaker, Pat Younie, Tom Hamilton, Elizabeth Howie, Rosemary and Jon Lehman, Mary Roddy and Ron Floyd. 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Are we famous yet?

What a great day for SGS!

Hopefully you've all seen today's Seattle Times feature article on Seattle Genealogical Society's cemetery survey of the Newcastle Cemetery. If not, you can see it at
There's also a video showing scenes from our visit to the cemetery with Linda Fitzgerald, a member of the cemetery survey team, talking about why genealogists gravitate to cemeteries and what was found at Newcastle.
Before 9:00 AM, I already had received emails from three people either providing more information on the cemetery or asking for more information. Obviously people do still read their local newspaper!

It might surprise you to learn how long it has taken this article to make it into print. We first contacted the Seattle Times back in January with the idea of an article on our Newcastle Cemetery work during February, Black history month. We finally arranged a visit to the cemetery with the Times reporter, a photographer, and a videographer on April 14th. The article came out on May 8th. Even the reporter was surprised that it made the front page. I guess we just lucked out on a slow news day!

My apologies to the members of the committee that worked on the Newcastle cemetery project back in 2007-08. The reporter wasn't interested in listing the names of everyone who worked on the project, or in advertising our Spring Seminar and other upcoming events for us. At least she included our website address, so hopefully people will find us.

Speaking of the Spring Seminar, you've only got 6 days to get your registration into SGS. They're due by May 15th. We will be accepting day-of registrations, but they'll be at a higher price [$45 for SGS members; $50 for non-members], you won't be able to purchase lunch, and we can't guarantee having a syllabus for you. Elissa Scalise Powell is a very good speaker, with a lot of useful information to share. I suspect I'll get enough tips just in her first talk ["Hiding Behind Their Skirts: Finding Women in Records"] to make the day worthwhile. That's not to say I'm not looking forward to sessions 2 ["Twenty Years of Stuff-Now What Do I Do?"] and 3 ["Rubik's Cube Genealogy: A New Twist on your Old Data"]. I'm hoping they'll spur me to do something constructive with my 30+ years of "stuff." And though I don't personally have Pennsylvania ancestors who traveled West, I do have ancestors from Ohio and Vermont. Elissa's final session, "How did my Pennsylavania Ancestor Get Here: Migration Trails out of the Keystone State", will undoubtedly give me some new ideas on where to search for more records on them. Well-attended, successful seminars are essential to the financial stability of SGS. Please plan on joining me in this great educational opportunity on May 22nd.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Election Results

The 2010 Elections Committee spent about four hours checking and counting the ballots in our recent election this afternoon. Thank you to the committee--Peggy Kirmeyer (chair), Anna Chavelle, Maureen Crawford, Jackie Lawson and Jan Walker. Thank you, too, to the 40% of our members who took the time and energy to vote. I was hoping for a few more, but we had close to 300 ballots returned, which is not bad given that none of the Board positions had multiple candidates.
I am pleased to report that BOTH the new Bylaws and the Newsletter printing/mailing fee were overwhelmingly approved. I must admit to being somewhat nervous about either issue passing, but both did with huge pluralities. The mailing fee will not be implemented until 2011, but I'm hoping that many members will voluntarily pay the $6 this year if they want to continue receiving printed/mailed Newsletters.
Thank you to all who agreed to run for the 2011 Nominating Committee. I can attest that this is a pretty thankless and time consuming task, having served on it two years ago. I hope that it will get easier as more members like what they see happening at SGS and agree to step forward and participate more fully in running the organization. Next year's Nominating Committee will start work almost immediately, as the new Bylaws include a new Board position, Director of Membership. Please let them know if you'd consider serving either as Director of Membership or as Director of Volunteers or Treasurer, positions for which we did not have candidates on the ballot.
Thanks again to all who voted and welcome new Board members, Kathleen Stamm (Vice President) and Mary Alice Sanguinetti (Director of Library).