THE GENEALOGICAL FORUM’s Thursday Evening E-News Edition December 12, 2019
Curious about the status of your GFO Membership? We’d love to have you as a GFO Member! | 503-963-1932 | Be sure to check the complete GFO CALENDAR.
Also, don’t miss the current issue of The Forum Insider
Thank you for Supporting the GFO and the Oregon Cultural Trust
We are so grateful for everyone who’s been donating during our annual appeal, our only fundraising drive of the year. Thank you! We’re not quite half way to our goal, but we’re confident we can raise what is needed to keep providing you the services and access to historical records you’ve come to rely on.
Your support can go even farther too. The GFO is a member of the Oregon Cultural Trust. You can match the amounts you’ve given to Cultural Trust nonprofits like the GFO and you’ll get 100% of that match back on your Oregon state tax form. (Up to $500 for individuals, $1,000 for couples filing jointly.) Be sure to click over to the Cultural Trust website to get the information you need.
Give Now to Our Annual Appeal
Genealogy Boot Camp for Beginners
Join Laurel Smith on Thursday, January 9 from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at the GFO for a day of beginning genealogy. There will be sessions about the census, vital records, discussions about genealogy software and database use, organizing your research, using, and more — all geared toward beginners — but basic computer skills are a prerequisite.
All communications are done via email, and you must be able to download and print the class notes. Bring a sack lunch, snacks, and a beverage so you can keep going as the class does. GFO members may attend for free, non-members $20.
Register for Boot Camp
Have you Moved? Please Tell Us
Please tell us if you’ve moved in the last year. Recently, we had a large number of letters returned to us that could not be delivered. The post office charges more for each returned letter than it costs to mail them out the first time. As a small non-profit we’d rather spend our limited budget on keeping the library open and bolstering resources for you. Please notify of any changes to your mailing address.
GFO Files Objection to USCIS Genealogy Fee Hike
We’ve told you in previous weeks that the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service wants to increase fees by nearly 500% for copies of genealogy records. The GFO Board has now filed formal objections to these outrageous fee hikes for access to records like naturalization certificates, alien registration forms, Visa files, registry files, and A-Files. Fees could total $240 to $385 per record! We believe the exorbitant fee increase appears to be an attempt to deny Americans access to the records at all. It will slam the door and close off public records because such fees are simply beyond the means of most of us.
USCIS Genealogy Fee Hikes as charted by Records, Not Revenue.
In addition to filing our objection during the comment period, we have also contacted all federal elected officials from Oregon to urge them to use their influence to stop this as well. We urge all of you who care about keeping public records public to file your own comment. USCIS has reportedly extended the deadline for comments to December 30. Be sure to specifically note both the Genealogy Program and DHS Docket No. USCIS-2019-0010 in your comments.
Comment on Fee Hike
Renovation to Close OHS Research Library
As many of you may know, the Oregon Historical Society is counting down to an exciting new chapter for their Research Library. To allow for extensive renovations of their downtown Portland library starting in March 2020, library staff and collections are moving offsite. The downtown library will remain open through December 28, 2019. They will reopen to researchers by appointment at a temporary offsite location in early spring, and continue to answer reference questions by email and phone during the construction phase. The OHS museum will remain open; no interruption to other OHS activities is anticipated during this time. Details and updates can be found on the OHS website. Questions may be directed to We at the GFO are looking forward to OHS’s new, enhanced library. We offer our resources for anyone eager to keep researching in the interim.
Friday is Deadline for Comments on Division Transit Project
TriMet has big changes planned for Division Street, starting in front of GFO’s building and extending far to the east. The agency has an “online open house” where you can learn more about the design. Public comments can be submitted through Friday, Dec. 13.
Submit Your Comments Here
If It Snows, We May Close
Here’s a reminder before any winter weather really hits Portland: if it snows, we may reduce hours or close altogether. The best place to find out is online. You can check three places: ▪ Local media website winter closure lists. If we close, we notify Flash Alert Newswire, which instantly adds us to the lists displayed by local media. ▪ The GFO Webpage. We’ll post closures on our homepage. ▪ The GFO Facebook page. Or, you can call us. If no one answers, please don’t come in.
Surplus Book: Amish and Amish Mennonite Genealogies
No pretty pictures or detailed maps in our book of the week—but what a treasure trove of genealogical information! Amish and Amish Mennonite Genealogies by Hugh F. Gingerich and Rachel W. Kreider, 1986, is chock full of names, dates, and locations gleaned from over 125 different sources. The foreword by Joseph F. Beiler states, “This volume offers actual accounts of all known Amish or Amish related immigrants, who came to America
as European peasants who were, in one way or another, denied religious freedom and civil rights—to the promised land.” It provides a preface, introduction, history of the first Amish communities in America, instructions on how to use the book, a code list for sources, and a code list for location—and then, all those names and family
groups in this 848-page tome. There are even two indexes of individuals—one for coded and one for uncoded.
Thumbing through the book, one pencil notation was found. The pages are clean and tight, and the binding is secure. But there is damage to the cover which can be seen in the photo—and the pages closest to that end board have been wrinkled, but not torn. Don’t let this one get away! If interested, please contact Price if picked up at the GFO is $48. Shipped is $55 (it’s heavy!)
Survey Results: Sweet Traditions
We were a little surprised that more people didn’t have holiday cookie or treat recipes handed down, but we did get a few interesting replies. (However, the survey editor is sad that the prior weeks’ respondents didn’t reach out to share their Thanksgiving cranberry sorbet or decadent spinach recipes.)
Here are a few of the responses we received: My grandmother, and then my mother, used to make cookies at Christmastime called Lard Nuts. They contained (you guessed it) lard, and ammonia. I’m sure you can understand why we don’t make them any longer. As a child, I thought they were pretty nasty. Lebkuchen. I’ve often wondered about how this recipe was passed down. My grandmother made it. She was Scotch. Her husband was German–so perhaps from my paternal great-grandmother? I hear this can be a perfectly lovely treat. But not the way grandma made it–in a jelly roll pan and frosted (the only good part). But it was like the hardest, chewiest, dry fruitcake I’ve ever had. When she died, thankfully the lebkuchen recipe disappeared.
My mother always made “Mary’s Cookies” at Christmas. They are cut outs and my siblings and I decorated them. I did the same with my kids. No one seems to remember who Mary was! Actually there is no recipe…it was all in my grandmother’s head and I observed many times the making of paklava with phyllo made from scratch. I got to sprinkle the nut, sugar & clove filling, roll and cut up the pieces. It’s the dough that is in question because my grandmother made it without measuring…she just knew by the feel when the ratio of milk and butter to flour was right. It was beautiful to watch a small round of dough become a huge paper thin circle. A large table is required for this which is one of the reasons I haven’t tried to recreate the movements I watched so many times …
New Survey: Holiday Genealogy Gifts
This week we’re asking if you have any genealogical gifts on your wish list. Take the survey now.
Take the Survey Now
This week at GFO …
Saturday, December 14th
Writer’s Forum 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Join our peer group of genealogists, who meet to learn about writing and to share our writing with each other. Peggy Baldwin facilitates this group and can be reached at
Sunday, December 15th
Library Work Party 9:00 a.m. – Noon
There’s lots to do and we’d love to have your help. Doors open at 9 and work usually wraps up around noon. Some people come for just an hour or so; others work the full time. You are welcome to do either. Any time you can share is valuable. Hope to see you there.
French Canada Group 3:30 – 5:00 p.m.
Share stories of our history. Come and join this group to learn more about French Canadian ancestry and Acadia. The group leader is Bob LaMarche.
Wednesday, December 18th
Learn & Chat 10:00 a.m. – Noon
Co-facilitator Sandy Alto aptly named Learn and Chat as a “genealogy self-help” group. Come attend the Learn and Chat group if you want to learn about anything genealogical. Contact facilitator Sandy Alto with your questions at
DNA Q&A: The Basics 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
This meeting is for those who are just beginning to use DNA testing for genealogy. Each class begins with a presentation of general information about DNA testing. General questions regarding DNA testing are welcome at the end of each planned discussion. Lisa McCullough leads this group.. Questions?
GFO Library Open Late Until 8:00 p.m.