Thanks for Your Help

I want to thank all the people that have been sending me the information on cancelled or postponed meetings, and hope all of you are well and not too bored to work on your genealogy while you sat away form other people. Lets hope it ends soon so we can get back to work before we all look like shaggy dogs. There are many free seminars this month so I hope you can find the one that will give you the clue to break all your brick walls.

Seattle Genealogical Society Tip of the Week


Thanks to Karen P for this tip she shared with the Seattle Genealogical Society Networking Facebook group. 

Recorded class sessions from the RootsTech 2020 Conference  are available for anyone to view for free! Karen highly recommends Blaine Bettinger’s presentation “DNA, Genealogy, and Law Enforcement: All the Facts”.

Here’s the link where you can watch free video of many of the sessions from RootsTech 2020, as well as RootsTech 2019:

Seattle Genealogical Society News


  While the SGS Library may be closed for the month of April, the dedicated volunteers at Seattle Genealogical Society have put together an array of online programs to help keep you engaged. Why not join Heidi Mair, Jill Morelli, and Lisa Oberg for their online presentations – each presentation will be followed by a discussion period.  And don’t forget the online Coffee Klatch and SGS Membership Meeting on April 11, 2020. Hope to “see” you all there. Just Zoom in. Here are the details for each of April’s online events. 

Discovering Amelia: 
The Story of a Pennsylvania Dutch Woman, 1854-1931  
(Online Class and Discussion)
Thursday, April 2, 2020 
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm

Follow this link to join:

Join Heidi Mair for an online presentation summarizing the search for her maternal great-grandmother. 

Topics include:
Major events and changes during Amelia’s lifetime  included the Civil War, technological advances from the telephone to the sewing machine, World War I, labor unions, prohibition and more. How did these changes affect life in small town America?

Who are the Pennsylvania Dutch and what are some of the challenges researching their records?
Genealogical research spanning more than 30 years – what worked and what didn’t? 
Read the story of Heidi’s search in  Discovering Amelia.

This 50-minute presentation will be followed with a discussion period. 

Coffee Klatch and Membership Meeting  
(Online Special Event)
Saturday, April 11, 2020
12:30 pm to 1:30 pm

Follow this link to join:
  This is an informal and “virtual” meet up. We will review the past year as well as look at upcoming events. The conversation starter is “What online resource have you found particularly helpful?” It does not have to be about genealogy, but you get a gold star if it is!  

Using the Parish and Census Records of Scandinavia  
(Online Class and Discussion)
Tuesday, April 14, 2020 
7:00 pm PDT
  SGS is helping the Tacoma-Pierce County Genealogical Society put on their first Zoom,  webinar style online event in April and to reciprocate TPCGS is inviting SGS members and friends to attend. While the event is free, registration is required. If you plan to attend, please register by sending an email to Let them know you are an SGS member. A link will be sent to those who register.  

Jill Morelli, SGS president and CG, will speak on Scandinavian records. Don’t know the language? No problem! She will review the parish records and census records for the three Scandinavian countries and explain how they work together to give you an amazing amount of information.  

Dancing with the Spanish Lady: 
The Influenza Pandemic of 1918  
(Online Class and Discussion)
Thursday, April 23
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm

Follow this link to join:

Here’s a timely topic to be presented by Lisa Oberg. 

Schools canceled, closed theaters and churches, social distancing… all of these public health measures in effect today were used to help combat the influenza pandemic of 1918. Lisa will share how influenza affected Seattle and the country in 1918. Just as today’s pandemic is impacting all of our lives, 1918’s influenza affected the lives of our ancestors. After the presentation, we will share stories of the impact of the flu on our ancestors and how we’re getting along, too!

I, for one,  know my own 29 year old, great grandfather was among the more than 200,000 US citizens that died from this influenza in October of 1918.  
Read Mary Watkinson McRae’s diary of her week-long journey aboard the newly constructed Northern Railroad from Portland, Oregon to Ontario in 1884. Mary’s mother Jane had traveled with her family to Oregon from Missouri along the Oregon Trail in 1852. That trip took most families four to six months to complete. In just 30 years the continental train system transformed not only travel, but the lives or our ancestors. Thanks to this month’s contributor, Mary Ellen McRae for sharing her grandmother’s diary with us.     


Jeanie Fisher, reference archivist at Seattle Municipal Archives, would like everyone to know about their online crowdsourcing project to transcribe early handwritten City of Seattle Records.

Anyone who can read handwriting is welcome to join in! The project encourages participants to discover and index names and other information in the documents, making them more easily accessible to everyone. Early petitions, letters, claims, and reports – these documents contain nuggets of gold for genealogists researching Seattle-area ancestors. 

If you have some free time and are interested in helping out, the project is available here:

Create a free account, pick a document, start reading, and transcribe what you see. It’s that simple.       SGS NEW ACQUISITIONS for MARCH 2020
Nebraska:  Illustrated History of Nebraska: A History of Nebraska from the Earliest Explorations of the Trans-Mississippi Region with Steel Engravings, Photogravures, Copper Plates, Maps and Tables. Volume 1 and Volume 2  (in the Rare Books Section)

Family Collection:  Morris Collection — William A Morris and Andrew J Morris  

West Seattle High School:  West Seattle Chinook Newspaper Volume XXIX Number 27 –  May 3, 1945   


Spring 2020 SGS Seminar
with Fritz Juengling,
Fairview Christian School,
844 NE 78th St,
Seattle, WA

Saturday, May 16, 2020 *** Canceled ***   Mr Juengling is the German, Dutch and Scandinavian Research Specialist at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.    SGS CALENDAR OF EVENTS   Unless otherwise indicated all programs will be at the SGS Library, 6200 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle. Check the SGS Web Site for additions, changes,  and corrections. Programs may be canceled or postponed because of inclement weather.  APRIL
*** In consideration of COVID-19 social distancing recommendations, the SGS Library is closed for the month of April and all SGS in-person events for April have been canceled or postponed. Stay tuned or check the SGS Website for library status updates. 
Stay home – stay healthy – but stay engaged by attending the online events highlighted in this issue of the eNews!  

Seattle Genealogical Society News

24 March 2020
Dear Seattle Genealogical Society (SGS) members and friends,
The SGS Board met in special session on Monday to discuss the Covid-19 recommendations of our health professionals and our responsibilities to our members and friends.
Your safety is our primary concern. We are making it as easy as possible for you to remain safe and still participate in the activities of SGS. Here are some of the actions taken by the Board on Monday:
The SGS Library at 6200 Sand Point Way will extend its closure date through May 4. This action will be reassessed at our next regular Board meeting on April 13.
All in person meetings of Special Interest Groups (SIG) are cancelled. Please check with the group leader or the eNews! to determine if the meeting will be held virtually.
All members, friends, and volunteers should shelter in place and not enter the facility at 6200 Sand Point.
We discussed many options and made the difficult decision to cancel the May Seminar with Fritz Juengling. We are working with Fritz to discuss alternatives and will let you know as soon as possible.  
While our physical facility is closed to all volunteers and patrons, we are committed to bring you online educational opportunities and to nurture a close community of genealogists, wherever you live. In an effort to fulfill this promise, SGS is moving more program content online. Watch the eNews! for the online links.
On 19 March, we held a very successful Pop-Up Presentation on line using our Zoom host, attended by 20+ people from Seattle, Washington, and other states!  Based on that success, we are scheduling additional online events.  All links will be published in the eNews!
The next Pop-Up Presentation will be 2 April,   “Discovering Amelia; The Story of a Pennsylvania Dutch Woman, 1854-1931” given by Heidi.
The 11 April “Second Saturday” session has been moved to 9 May, Heidi Mair will present “1890-1920: The Progressive Era & Women’s Rights.” Watch the eNews! to determine if this will be held at the Library or virtually.
On 11 April, we will hold an online “Coffee Klatch and Membership Meeting” at 12:30 pm.  This is an informal meet up but will review the year in the past and upcoming events. The conversation starter is “What online resource have your found particularly helpful?” It does not have to be about genealogy, but you get a gold star if it is!
We have a number of online classes starting up. Sign up through our website (
“Level 1: Genealogy Basics and Beyond” will start the first part of May. This is a highly interactive class for five students. Our guarantee? Your genealogy research will be improved after the course. The first class is already full, but Valerie Lair, the instructor, is willing to run the course again if five of you sign up on the wait list which is now open. “Certification Discussion Group”: If you are interested in becoming a Certified Genealogist or just want to know more, we are taking names of those interested for the fall session, dates to be announced.
“WAYtoGo: A Methodology for Writing Efficient Research Reports” will be taught twice this spring/summer. This online workshop will start you on solving that brick wall problem by systematically recording your findings. We will use the wait list to identify the next group of attendees, but you can’t be notified of the program, if you aren’t on the wait list. If you want to write better reports, sign up now. Dates and times to be determined.  
Attending an SGS online event is as easy as  – 

1) Log onto your internet and click on the link for the meeting you wish to join that was supplied to you in the eNews! No pre-registration is necessary;

2) You may have to accept Zoom’s invitation to download the application (app) which takes 2-3 minutes, but after you do,

3) You’re in the meeting!! You do not have to have an “account” with Zoom, but you do need to download the app.

SGS is focused on our mission—to deliver the best genealogy education and provide for the preservation of genealogical resources for our members and friends.
Flatten the curve!

Jill Morelli, CG
President, Seattle Genealogical Society

Colorize your Black & White Photos

I’m happy to share that My Heritage is giving everyone FREE and unlimited access to MyHeritage In Color™ from March 23 to April 23, so that people everywhere can join in the fun of colorizing their black and white photos. Ordinarily only 10 photos can be colorized by users who do not have a Complete plan, but now, you can colorize as many photos as you’d like for free.

Colorizing photos is the perfect activity for anyone who is isolated at home. We invite everyone to pull out their family photo albums, colorize their photos, and start reminiscing. Over the coming month, anyone who shares their colorized photos on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram with the hashtag #ColorBeatsCoronavirusBlues and tags @MyHeritage will enter a weekly draw. Each week we’ll select one lucky winner who will receive a free MyHeritage Complete subscription!

Please share the news on your social channels and with your audience so they can make the most of this opportunity and colorize their photos.

GENEALOGICAL FORUM’s Thursday 2020 E-News

THE GENEALOGICAL FORUM’s Thursday Evening E-News Edition March 26, 2020
Memberships will not expire during the crisis, and will be extended a month beyond the date of our re-opening. | 503-963-1932 | Be sure to check the complete GFO CALENDAR.
Also, don’t miss the current issue of The Forum Insider
You Are Not Alone
Sign in Ford Food & Drink cafe above the GFO. We are home.
All of us.
Living through one of the most significant events in world history. At the GFO we are more concerned than ever for the well being of you whom we serve. This week, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued an Executive Order instructing everyone to stay at home, and closing all non-essential businesses. This means we will not re-open as hoped on April 1. Our shutdown is now indefinite. It’s vital that we protect each other by staying a safe distance from each other to slow the spread of COVID-19. In the midst of this great time of uncertainty, I think it’s worth reminding all of us that the history we preserve matters. Libraries like ours provide valuable spaces to gather. Unfortunately, that is a service we cannot fulfill at this time. Our collections contain our ancestors’ stories, and ours too, all saved for future generations. We will survive and return. In the meantime, we hear that a number of you are making some great genealogy discoveries as you have extra time for online research. As we hear about more online research opportunities, we’ll pass them on here in our weekly E-News and on our GFO Facebook page. The GFO has already begun looking at how this crisis will affect our budget. We’re spending money while unable to provide on site services. To that end, we’ve asked vendors and our landlord if they’ll offer any relief in the monthly bills we pay for services we’re not currently able to offer. Finally, I’d like to echo the message from a sign on the window of Ford Food and Drink, the café upstairs from the GFO: You Are Not Alone. ▪ Vince Patton, President
GFO Board Election Now Open
We have an official ballot now for this year’s GFO Board election. Vince Patton is running for re-election as president. Alexa Waddle is running for secretary. Joyce Grant-Worley seeks re-election as a Director at Large. And Geoff Smith has offered to serve again on our Endowment Committee. While voting on a GFO election may not seem like a top priority right now, our bylaws require that the election be held. We are attempting to follow our bylaws despite the difficult circumstances. Only active GFO members are eligible to vote. You will receive ballot instructions in The Forum Insider for April. Please note that the Insider is only being delivered electronically this month. Due to our closure, we are unable to print it.
GFO British Group Offers Resources Instead of Meeting
Our British Special Interest Group is offering links and resources in lieu of its usual meeting. Click on the link “England and Wales Civil Registration” for a free webinar, offered by FamilySearch. Before watching the webinar, you can familiarize yourself with what is available by going to the FamilySearch Wiki: English Civil Registration. Duane Funk, the leader of this group, is working on other resources to share. If you’d like to be added to his group’s email list, please contact him at
1918 Flu Pandemic More Relevant Than Ever
Amid the current crisis, a number of stories have mentioned the 1918 flu pandemic. It was nicknamed the “Spanish Flu” despite the very first case being detected in Kansas. (New Yorker, 1997). GFO member pointed out a fascinating local Portland blog called Alameda Old House History, which recently focused on how hard that pandemic hit Oregon. In October of 1918, the city health bureau said that Portland remained dangerous. Of note, there was a ban on public gatherings. That sounds familiar. That ban was lifted and flu cases surged, increasing by 50% in one week.
Doug Decker is behind the Alameda Old House History website. He writes, “The first mention in the papers in early October 1918 was a simple sentence buried on an inside page: “Seattle thinks it is getting the flu.” At first, the news percolated in conversation and people weren’t sure what to make of it. Jokes were made in small talk:
Decker continues, “But on October 10th, Portland Mayor George Baker implemented an order that required downtown businesses to close by late afternoon each day, and completely closed “schools, churches, lodges, public places of meetings, and places of amusement.”
To read the complete blog entry, click here.
Text and images reprinted with permission of Doug Decker
American Ancestors Offers Free Organizing Guide
© 1996–2018 New England Historic Genealogical Society. All Rights Reserved. Now is your time to get a free digital copy of The Portable Genealogist: Organizing Your Research, from American Ancestors. “No matter how monumental the task of organizing your research may seem, a systematic method saves valuable time and creates more accurate work. This Portable Genealogist, [authored by Rhonda R. McClure, Genealogist at the New England Historic Genealogical Society], offers practical advice on how to organize your research and files, keep track of families, and create goals to guide future research.
Even if you are a seasoned family historian, it’s not too late to incorporate these practices into your work!” Click this link and enter your email to receive a free copy of the guide.
Hall of Fame Nominations Sought
It’s time for GFO Hall of Fame Nominations! Any GFO member may nominate another member by May 1. Nominees must have a well-documented history of service, leadership, and accomplishment in more than one facet of the GFO, over a long period of time.
Please include:
* Name, list of services, activities, positions, and accomplishments;
* A narrative describing the nature of their work in terms of its importance to the success of the GFO;
* A short biography.
Please send to by May 1.
The board will decide if any merit selection. Winners are awarded in June and receive a free Life Membership and their name on our Hall of Fame plaque.
What’s New in Online Digital Resources
Since we are unable at this time to process new books and new digital content for the GFO Library, we will be temporarily suspending our “What’s New” weekly feature. In this time of physical distancing and responsible sheltering in place, we will instead share online resources so that you can reach out and connect as well as continue to learn and build on your genealogy skills from home.
• Do you have kids or grandkids in your life, or even neighbors and friends with kids who are now coping with the challenges of being schooled at home? If so, the latest blog entry at Billion Graves: “20 Homeschool Genealogy Ideas,” may be a way that you can lend support to them and their parents with creative ways that they can incorporate genealogy in their lessons. • Starting on March 23, 2020, MyHeritage In Color™ will be free and unlimited for one month “to give people who are isolated at home a fun way to pass the time and enjoy genealogy. Colorized photos can be shared with the whole family, and can help you see your historical family photos in an entirely new way.” A weekly drawing for a free MyHeritage Complete subscription is being held for those who share their colorized photos online.
Survey Results: Preserving Research
Last week, we asked you about your plans for preserving or passing on your genealogical work. Only 63% of respondents say they’ve made plans. We hope those who haven’t will think about doing so. Please don’t let your hard work and discoveries end up in a landfill. Here are a few of the responses from those with a plan:
I am bequeathing it all to the one nephew in the family who enjoys genealogy. I’m also making sure the Family Bible record pages are donated to the GFO. All records are to be given to Salt Lake Mormon Library. Instructions have been included in our wills. I have written a series of books. Digital life changes so quickly that I fear what I produce there may not be accessible when the children grow up. It will be split between two relatives who really want it. I definitely need to update my will so that what I have written is preserved, even if the well-sourced chapters I have written and the documents to back up my research end up in boxes at the GFO.
Spread it out through my cousins Yes, BUT I’ve only half way implemented my plan. I have print outs of records plus copies of originals filed in binders. Each ancestor has their own plastic file in the binders. I maintain a running timeline summary with notes also for each ancestor and keep a copy in each file. I make binders for my sibling and my husband’s siblings so someone somewhere knows what I did. I’m sure there is more I could do and look forward to other people’s comments to see what ideas I might implement. Organizing my research materials so that my children will be able to understand what they are. Last year I sorted all the research materials for fifty years of work for my own family and the families of others. While staying at home for the current health concerns I want to finish that process and then move on to the pictures. The early pictures are scanned, but many more have been taken since the early 1990s.
My plans are still in progress. Part of my plan, is to give all my records to GFO. I’m trying to tie up loose ends, reduce my actual paper files, and prepare my records for the GFO. I hope that GFO sees themselves as being the repository for all their members’ work! Also, I would like to recommend the creation of some guidelines for members to get our records in the shape GFO would like to receive them in! I’m using Google Blogger to write about my ancestors. Each blog entry is about a different person on my pedigree chart, including their vital statistics, children, and a few paragraphs about their life (plus a list of sources). Whether or not my genealogy research papers and files get passed down, the blog should survive as long as there’s a Google!
New Survey: Safe at Home
Our question this week is about whether you’re spending more time on your genealogy lately?
Take the Survey Now
This week at GFO …
The Week Ahead: The GFO Research Library is closed, and all on-site groups, classes, and work parties are canceled

Heritage Quest Research Library News

Stay at Home!
On Monday, March 23, 2020, Washington’s Governor, Jay Inslee issued a new temporary “stay at home” order to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  The new order went into effect last night and will last until April 6, 2020. 
We are taking the direction of our Governor and the medical community seriously and encourage our members and patrons to stay home until we can all return to our normal daily lives.  
Meanwhile, take an online class, learn a new language, sort through your collection of family photos, read a genealogy book or develop a class to share when we return to the Library!

Seattle Genealogical Society Good News

John LaMont and Mahina Oshie, our friends and favorite genealogy librarians at Seattle Public Library (SPL), have some great news for Seattle Public Library patrons. Ancestry announced they are allowing patrons of Seattle Public Library access to “Ancestry Library Edition” from the comfort of their home via the SPL website. So get out your Seattle Public Library card and navigate to your “My Account” area of the SPL website. From there you will find  “Ancestry Library Edition” by first clicking on “Research” and then clicking “Online Resources A to Z”.  We were also told that access to those restricted records at FamilySearch (the records with the little key icon next to them) has been relaxed, although we have not tried this out.     Our thanks to John and Mahina for the information and thanks to Ancestry for their kindness.  REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR

Level I – “Genealogy Basics and Beyond” Course Sponsored by Seattle Genealogical Society  May 5, 2020  – June 16th, 2020  Tuesday evenings  @ 6:00–8:00 p.m. PDT  via Zoom online Platform 
Class 1 – Getting Started – May 5 
Class 2 – Organization and Record Keeping System – May 12 
Class 3 – Genealogy Computer Software Programs – May 19 
Class 4 – Census Records – May 26 
Class 5 – Newspapers and City Directories – June 2 
Class 6 – Library Resources – June 9 
Class 7 – Citing Sources Properly – June 16 
The Level I-Genealogy Basics and Beyond Course is suitable for everyone and covers how to successfully conduct research in census records, vital records, newspapers, city directories, churches, cemeteries, military records; using major online resources along with libraries and archives; and so much more. The course will challenge you in perfecting your genealogy skills.  Register for Genealogy Basics & Beyond
TONIGHT! Soldiers, Spies and Farm Wives: The Changing Roles for Women in the Civil War   Thursday, March 19, 2020 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm Don’t forget to join Jill Morelli tonight for this online presentation and discussion. Learn about some brave women you might not have heard of, yet they played an active role in the Civil War.   Follow this link to join: SCHEDULE CHANGE The Second Saturday presentation  “1890-1920 – The Progressive Era and Women’s Rights” with Heidi Mair has been moved from April 11, 2020, to May 9, 2020. There will be no presentation on April 11. The presentation by Nancy Cordell, PhD, originally scheduled for May 9 has been canceled.   

GENEALOGICAL FORUM’s Thursday 2020 E-News

THE GENEALOGICAL FORUM’s Thursday Evening E-News Edition March 19, 2020
If any membership expires during the time we are closed, the member will still be considered active for one month after the library re-opens. | 503-963-1932 | Be sure to check the complete GFO CALENDAR.
Also, don’t miss the current issue of The Forum Insider
A Message from GFO’s President
This is a tough time we’re living through. Our parents and grandparents survived through a decade of deprivations during the Depression and then faced even more during World War II. We’re living through a global calamity ourselves that rivals or surpasses anything in the last 100 years or more. Ironically, the best thing we can do to help each other is to stay apart. An epidemiologist in my family is very firm; we must stay home and away from other people. A journalist I know in British Columbia, Anne Casselman, put it very well. “Think of COVID19 as a fire. And each person who carries it is emitting all these embers that can in turn start their own fires. Social distancing starves the fire of new fuel and thereby extinguishes the flames.” Even people who are not at risk need to act for the most vulnerable members of society. To be honest, once the scale of this pandemic was clear, the decisions we made were clear cut. Here’s a quick rundown of the latest: * If your membership expires(d) during February, March, April, or until the closure ends, you will still be considered active for one month after the library re-opens. *The GFO is closed at least until April 1, likely longer. *Printing of the Insider is suspended. It will only be available electronically. *No volunteers are allowed in the library, even die hards with keys, who might wish to come in. *During the closure no memberships will be processed, no deposits will be made in our bank, and all book sales are suspended. * This week we changed our Membership Meeting for ballot nominations from in-person to a telephone conference call. * The Board Election ballot itself is going electronic. You won’t need to print it, then drop it off or mail it. If we’re still closed, we might not even receive print ballots in time. (GFO members will receive an email later with voting instructions.) * We’re going to use a video conferencing service so the board can meet safely from each of our own homes. Finally, I’m thrilled that African American Special Interest Group leader, Janice Sellers, has changed her presentation into a free webinar this Saturday. Read the article below. And sign up! I hope you are well and staying home to keep others healthy too. #dontbeaspreader —Vince Patton, GFO President
GFO’s Black Newspapers Lecture Moves Online
Special Webinar! We hated having to cancel the talk planned for Saturday about Using Online Historical Black Newspapers for Genealogical Research. Professional genealogist, and GFO African American Special Interest Group leader, Janice Sellers is moving this presentation online! Saturday, March 21, 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time. Historical newspapers often provide key information needed to break through brick walls. Many historical Black and abolitionist newspapers are available online, with more being added. Most are on subscription sites, while some are free. This class provides an overview of the historical roles of Black newspapers, how they can be a substitute for missing vital records, what is online and where to find it, and strategies for access and searches. This way we can all be safe at home while we continue to learn.
Register for Webinar Here
By the way, Janice has another lecture available at Legacy Family Tree Webinars called Mining the Newspaper Databases on MyHeritage for Your Family History. It’s free as well.
GFO March Star: Anita Davidson
Anita Davidson Anita is a GFO research assistant who recently went above and beyond the call of duty. A generous woman in the area wanted to donate dozens of books to the GFO. Anita agreed to personally go to her home to pick them up. Upon arriving, she learned the woman wanted to inventory the donations first. Anita spent another hour with the donor creating that list on the spot. Then she brought six heavy boxes back to the library.

For this, the Board unanimously makes her our GFO Star for March. Thank you, Anita!
Hall of Fame Nominations Sought (Correction)
It’s time for GFO Hall of Fame Nominations! Any GFO member may nominate another member by May 1. (Date is correct now.) Nominees must have a well-documented history of service, leadership, and accomplishment in more than one facet of the GFO, over a long period of time.
Please include:
* Name, list of services, activities, positions, and accomplishments;
* A narrative describing the nature of their work in terms of its importance to the success of the GFO;
* A short biography.
Please send to by May 1.
The board will decide if any merit selection. Winners are awarded in June and receive a free Life Membership and their name on our Hall of Fame plaque.
Copyright: Donna Cox Baker.
You are living history…
Reprinted with permission from Donna Cox Baker, The Golden Egg Genealogist. What would you give to have an in-the-moment diary from an ancestor who was living through a world disaster? Wouldn’t you cherish the opportunity to see it through their eyes? To know their hearts in a bad time? To watch it unfold, through the eyes of a person who didn’t know how it was going to turn out? We are living history. History books will devote energy to telling this story in hindsight, in generalities. They’ll describe it from the perspective of those who know how it turned out. We don’t yet have that luxury. Here is another worthwhile project to consider as we confine ourselves for the greater good. Think about a diary, written for your descendants. You can even write it as a letter–adding new thoughts as your experience unfolds. An open and honest look at what COVID-19 looked like the first time you saw it. What have your opinions been, and are they changing? Are you worried? Are you sick? Talk to them about the experience. Let them feel how this situation is unfolding in your home, in your town, in your state. Your descendants will treasure it. They won’t care if you are a brilliant writer. They won’t care if you overreacted or underreacted. Had a mundane or dramatic experience. They will care about you–as a person facing the unknown. If you wait until it’s over, hindsight will color your depiction. Start today, and let it unfold. Don’t edit it later. Keep it real, and make sure they can find it a hundred years from now. Take care, friends, and stay well.
What’s New in Online Digital Resources
Since we are unable at this time to process new books and new digital content for the GFO Library, we will be temporarily suspending our “What’s New” weekly feature. In this time of social distancing and responsible sheltering in place, we will instead share online resources so that you can continue to learn and build on your genealogy skills from home.
• While you’re protecting yourself and your community by staying at home, how are you filling your time? The Occasional Genealogist has lots of ideas for your family research. Check out: 5 Genealogy Tasks When You’re Stuck at Home • For tips on where to find Digital Historical Books online, see the latest entry at Empty Branches on the Family Tree: 5 Resources for Finding Digitized Historical Books Online
Survey Results:
A whopping 85% of respondents to last week’s survey said newspapers have been a valuable resource for solving genealogical problems. Here are some of the many responses we received (edited for brevity). We hope you find some helpful resources within these comments.
Using the Family History Center Portal, I found obituaries for two of my great-grandmothers. They both died young. I was pleased to learn more about each of them. Those small town newspapers are full of information.
I was unable to access the newspaper obituaries of my family in Vancouver, B.C., Canada online, but a local woman, found on Cyndi’s List, obtained copies for a very reasonable price. My great-grandparents were apparently a very loving little (very short) couple.
I finally found my ancestor’s village in Alsace mentioned in the obituary of the youngest son! The newspaper was accessible through the local library in Vincennes, Indiana.
Online Salem newspaper research and the Multnomah County Library online Oregonian databases have answered many questions. I’ve Interlibrary loaned many microfilm newspapers for many places including New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, and others I can’t remember. I LOVE newspaper research!
I found mention of my grandfather skipping out on a court care in North Dakota and fleeing to Montana where he was tracked down. It was in the Discover America’s Story Archive
I discovered what happened to my paternal grandfather who I could not find after 1912. He died and was buried in Mt. Angel in 1957. Thanks go to Knight Library in Eugene for their vast collections of newspapers.
I could not find what happened my gggrandfather. I searched (unsuccessfully) on GenealogyBank in his home state. I expanded the search to all states and eureka! IN another state, he had tragically died by drowning while walking on a frozen river. His brother tried to save him but had to watch him as he “sunk to rise no more.” What a dramatic end to my quest…now I had the date, place, and circumstances.
Finding a record of a divorce; Oregonian; Accessed at GFO using a website on GFO computers. Found the named individuals, date and place of the divorce decree.
I was stunned to find newspaper articles about my great-grandfather, an immigrant from Koblenz, Rhineland, who was a founding member of a floral society in San Francisco California. I had no idea he’d been west of St. Louis.
I had found a marriage license, but the return portion had not been filled out, so I didn’t know if the couple were actually married. In a digitized version of the newspaper on, I found an announcement that was published the day after the wedding with a full description, including the name of the officiant and the wonderful comment, “[A] large number of useful presents [were] given to Mr. and Mrs. Bender
© 2019 Wyoming State Library; all rights reserved. • In Wyoming NEWSPAPERS, I found my grandparents’ 1900 wedding announcement, and references to them “coming in from the ranch,” (I thought they lived in the city) and an article saying my grandfather was going to Oregon with the intention of relocating if he liked it. The real eye-opener was an article detailing the funeral service for my grandfather’s father. It named his surviving brother, who lived in Laramie since 1870s. I didn’t know he had a brother!! But now I know why their destination upon immigrating in 1888 was “middle of nowhere” Laramie, Wyoming. What a treasure that online site turned out to be. It led me to 3 different newspapers.
I was able to track down exact dates for events (in an ancestor’s autobiography) in newspaper articles thanks to the U of O Historic Oregon Newspapers collection. (I LOVE this resource!)
Old Fulton Postcards has a remarkable and freely accessible compilation of New York newspapers, and some beyond New York.
This wasn’t a genealogical problem so much as an amusing footnote, but I learned from some online historic issues of The Oregonian that my 3rd-great-grandfather ran twice for Polk County Commissioner on the Prohibitionist Party ticket (in 1900 and 1902). He lost both times, which might’ve had as much to do with his party affiliation as the fact that he actually lived in Yamhill County.
Repeated stories about my Oregon pioneer ancestors revealed to me small town life and how an ordinary person may hold many positions and be a force in the community. Who knew? Not me, the city dweller.
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This week at GFO …
The Week Ahead:
The GFO Research Library is closed, and all on-site groups, classes, and work parties are canceled
Saturday, March 21st
African American Interest Group – Special Online Webinar 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time
Join Janice Sellers as she moves her planned presentation, “Using Online Historical Black Newspapers for Genealogical Research” to a webinar format. For details on content and how to register to connect to this free webinar, see the article above. Additional questions to: