Innovative Grant Applications Due March 1

Is your local genealogy society interested in some FREE CASH for a special project? Applications for the WSGS Innovative Grants are being accepted through March 1, 2018.

The grants, up to $100, are designed to support the inventive and creative efforts of WSGS-member societies and organizations. The awards do not have to be repaid — they’re FREE MONEY to support worthy projects. Up to five grants will be awarded in 2018.

Last year’s grant awards were made to:

The simple application is only ONE page and is available here, as well as additional guidance on the program. For more information, visit the Innovative Grant page on our website

For more information, contact Roxanne Lowe, Interim Chair, WSGS Recognition Committee, at

Society Award Deadlines Set

The deadlines for WSGS awards to local societies have been set. We are encouraging you to promote your society’s activities and accomplishments by submitting a nomination.

WSGS President Ginny Majewski presenting the Outstanding Communication Award to Mary Simonsen with the Whitman County Gen Soc, 2017

Outstanding Communication – The WSGS Outstanding Communication Award is awarded to a local society that promotes its society and/or genealogy and family history to its members and/or the public. The award includes all forms of communication, including websites, social media, newsletters, lectures, videos, podcasts, etc. The nomination deadline is 01 April 2018. The application is available here.

Outstanding Project – The WSGS Outstanding Project Award is awarded to a local genealogical society or organization in recognition of exceptional genealogical or historical projects implemented during the past year. The nomination deadline is 01 April 2018. The application is available here.

President’s Award: The WSGS President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement is designed to single out that rare individual, society or organization who has demonstrated exemplary service above and beyond expectations. The nomination deadline is 15 April 2018. The nomination form and additional details are available here.

Outstanding Volunteers and Team: The Outstanding Volunteer and Team Awards Program provides recognition to those individuals
and teams who have been identified by their local genealogical organization to be honored for exceptional efforts. The deadline to submit the name of a society’s individual or team is 15 Feb 2018. More information about the Outstanding Volunteer and Team Awards is available here.

For more information, contact Roxanne Lowe, Interim Chair, Recognition Committee at

Time to Renew Your WSGS Membership

It’s time to renew your Washington State Genealogical Society membership and we’ve made it pretty easy!

Kathy Sizer, Membership Chair

Washington State Genealogical Society

1901 S. 12th Avenue

Union Gap, WA 98903-1256

  • Pay online using PayPal by clicking on the Members Only button on the WSGS website and going to your “Profile.”

If you’ve already renewed, THANK YOU for your continued support!

Please help us continue to support the genealogical community in Washington State. For more information, contact Kathy Sizer at



Graphic of file cabinets feeding information to a matrix-like binary screen
The Washington State Archives’ Digital Archives reached a milestone achievement last month when it entered its 200 millionth record into the state database. In the months leading up to the milestone, the Washington State Archives ran a public contest to see who could guess the exact date on which Digital Archives reached the record. The winner, who guessed December 5 and was closest to the actual date of November 30, got to take home an Ancestry DNA kit.

The Washington State Archives’ Digital Archives was the nation’s first archives dedicated specifically to the preservation of electronic records from both state and local agencies that have permanent legal, fiscal or historical value. The facility, which opened in 2004, includes a research room, computer research stations, a high-tech presentation classroom, and a world-class data center. Digital Archives delivers broad public access to both digitized and “born digital” records of state and local government, provides government accountability and – in the case of digitized documents – helps preserve the originals.

Great job to our dedicated Archives and IT staff that make this possible!

Sign up for Scribe an join the super scribe’s



Was Your Ancestor an Early Washingtonian?

Do you have an ancestor who lived in Washington when it became a state on 11 Nov 1889? Did he/she come a little later, say before 31 Dec 1900?

Patrick Murphy arrived in Washington Territory in the spring of 1888.

If the answer to either question is “yes,” then you may be eligible to purchase a Pioneer Certificate or First Citizens Certificate honoring your early Washington citizen.

The process is pretty simple. Read the instructions and complete the application, starting with basic information about yourself, then your parent(s) and so on until you get to your first Washingtonian. Then list the evidences of proof linking each generation to the next. For example, I was born in Aberdeen (used my birth certificate). I am the daughter of Patricia Murphy Ferbrache (used her birth certificate) who was the daughter of Daniel Murphy (census record) who was the son of Patrick Murphy who arrived in the Satsop River Valley (Chehalis County, now Grays Harbor County) from New Brunswick, Canada in the spring of 1888. I used a land record (below) showing Patrick purchased land on the Chehalis River on July 10, 1888 — where my 91-year-old mother still lives today.

Land record, Chehalis County

After completing the Pioneer form (same procedure for the First Citizens Certificate), I sent it and my $10 fee to Pioneer Chair Frank McLean. Pretty soon my certificate arrived in the mail. I purchased another certificate later as an auction item at the annual Murphy Picnic — a much sought-after item!

The WSGS started the Pioneer and First Citizen Program in 1984 in anticipation of the state’s centennial admission to the union in 1889. While the three printed volumes of names are no longer in print, many libraries (including the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society’s library) have copies. An all-name index is available here. Hint: If you’ve got a Pioneer (here before 11 Nov 1889) or First Citizen (here before 31 Dec 1900), you might check the index to see if a cousin has already done the research! Detailed lineages are available to WSGS members through the Members Only link. A Pioneer and First Citizen brochure is available here.

There are a number of resources and aids, including Frank, to help you with your documentation. I’m proud to be the great granddaughter of a Washington Pioneer. Join me!


Fall and Winter Photos Wanted

Washington is beautiful any time of the year, don’t you agree? Winter seems to have arrived a little early this year, so let’s celebrate that beauty. We’re looking for scenic photos of our fall and winter Washington wonderland for the rotating photo gallery on the blog banner.

Guidelines for the photos are few:
•Landscapes, landmarks, and scenery photos are preferred. If, however, you have a perfect photo that includes people, please obtain their permission to post the photo.
•Photo must have been taken in Washington State (this is the Washington State Genealogical Society blog, after all!).
•Photo will be cropped to 1100 x 250 pixels, so keep that in mind.
•You may submit as many photos as you want.
•Final decisions on suitable photos will be made by the awesome WSGS Blog Team.
•There’s no firm deadline to submit photos, just keep ‘em coming. We want to rotate lots of photos to keep the blog fresh.

To submit your photo, please email the image (jpg only, please); what, where, when, and by whom the photo was taken to

Got questions? Email the blog team at

Meet the Board: Nancy Cordell

Do you know who’s running the show at the Washington State Genealogical Society? Did you know we have an Executive Committee, six standing committee chairs and three appointed non-elected officers? Who are all these people? In the coming months, we’ll introduce them to you, so you can say “hi” the next time you see them.

Nancy Cordell, Region 3 Representative

In today’s “Meet the Board” series, we’re introducing you to Nancy Cordell. Nancy lives in Tumwater and is WSGS’s Region 3 Representative (Clallam, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason, and Thurston Counties). She is also a member of the Olympia Genealogical Society where she has been president since July 2016.

Nancy, 1961 in Madrid, Spain

Nancy was born in southern California to Harry and Bertie (Grange) Neville. She earned a Ph.D. in Anthropology, specializing in biological anthropology, in 1991 at the University of Washington in Seattle. “Dr. Nancy” then taught biological anthropology to undergraduates for 30 years. What is biological anthropology, you ask? It’s a branch of anthropology that explores the biology of humans in the present and in the past, with a strong emphasis on understanding and exploring human diversity. Sounds like a perfect segue to her becoming a professional genealogist, earning a Certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University. Now retired from her educational career, Nancy owns her own genealogical business, “Diggin’ Our Past.”

Nancy’s interest in genealogy came early. Her mother’s family migrated to Utah in the mid-1800s from England and Denmark as converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). Nancy is proud of her early Utah pioneer roots.

Nancy’s great grandparents Annie and Walter Boyed, 1914

Featured in the photo on the right are Nancy’s great grandparents, Annie Louisa Mullens and Walter Eugene Boyed. The photo was taken in 1914 in Las Vegas, Nevada, just after they had moved from the mining town of Rhyolite, Nevada where they’d lived for nearly 10 years. Walter, born in 1861 in Texas, was a prospector and miner. He married Annie in 1899 in Tooele, Utah at the age of 38. Nancy’s still “diggin’ her past” to find out more about Walter before his marriage to Annie.

Nancy and her husband have two grown daughters. Besides being a proud member of WSGS and OGS, Nancy is a member of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Association of Professional Genealogists, International Society of Genetic Genealogy, and the National Genealogical Society.

A few more interesting tidbits about Nancy:
• Favorite genealogy websites: Ancestry
• When asked one word that describes her, Nancy replied, “Curious.” A very good characteristic for a biological anthropologist – and a genealogist!

Now you know a little more about another of the WSGS Board members. The next time you see Nancy say hello and thank her for her service to WSGS.

How to Post on the Blog

Do you want to broadcast information about your local society, workshop, genealogical tip, or a research query? Just post to the WSGS Blog! You can reach hundreds of genealogists from around the state. Just email a Word document, text file, PDF or graphic to and the blog masters will do the rest.

We’re always looking to publicize local events and workshops, feature stories, updates from your society, and other genealogical information that might be of interest to our many subscribers.

We hope to hear from you soon! And don’t forget to encourage your Society members to subscribe to the Blog for the most up-to-date information from around the state.

You may manage your subscription options from your profile.

Indexing Continues

Have you joined other WSGS members and blog readers indexing records for the Washington State Digital Archives? I hope so. Today, I only had time to index two records. But that’s two records that a genealogist may be looking for. Every indexed record helps!

The list of collections being indexed changes all the time. Currently, the list includes:

  • 1878 King County Census,
  • Marriage records in Benton, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Wakiakum and Walla Walla counties
  • Automobile licensee fee books from 1909 – 1913
  • Polk Directory for Seattle from 1891 – 1893

By signing up for Scribe (the very cool indexing tool), you can choose what collection you’d like to index — it’s up to you! Remember: every record indexed is a win/win for free public access to these invaluable records.