Nancy Bonafede Named Region 1 North Representative

Nancy Bonafede

Nancy Bonafede of Sedro Woolley has been appointed the WSGS Representative for Region 1 North by President Virginia Majewski. Nancy has been a member of Skagit Valley Genealogical Society for more than 10 years. She has also been the volunteer coordinator for the library collection at the Burlington library.

Region 1 North includes Skagit, Whatcom, San Juan Counties and parts of Island and Snohomish Counties. There is still a vacancy for Region 1 South which includes parts of Island and Snohomish Counties. For more information about the responsibilities of the Regional Representative, click here.

Nancy will be featured in a future “Meet the Board” story. Welcome to the Board, Nancy!

WSGS Awards Announced at Annual Meeting in Yakima

Many thanks are extended to the Yakima Valley Genealogical Society for hosting the WSGS Annual Meeting and Awards Event on Saturday, 22 April 2017. The annual meeting was held in conjunction with YVGS’s Spring Seminar featuring Jay Fonkert, a Minnesota-based genealogy researcher, educator, and writer who focuses on nineteenth-century Midwest research. Nearly 90 people attended the seminar and annual meeting.

WSGS Vice President Donna Phillips presenting Outstanding Volunteer Award to Patricia McCann Manning from the Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society.

Region 6 Representative Janet McKinnon presenting an Outstanding Team member award to husband Mikal McKinnon for his work on the Tri-City Genealogical Society’s Library Recataloging and Renumbering Team.

During the annual meeting and awards lunch, nearly 40 local society members were recognized with Outstanding Volunteer and Team awards. These volunteers were praised for their commitment and energies to promote genealogy and family history in their local communities.

Some of the 2017 local society award winners

Other awards presented included:

  • Outstanding CommunicationWhitman County Genealogical Society for its newsletter filled with personal stories, photos and “snippets from the olden days.” Their newsletter started on in 1984 with just a few pages focusing on Whitman County. Today the newsletter is 10 pages with a continued focus on the county, but has expanded to include a wide variety of genealogy-related articles, designed to educate and entertain the society’s members and other readers. Special acknowledgement was extended to newsletter editor Judy Standar McMurray, with assistance from Monica Bartlett Peters.
  • Outstanding ProjectGrays Harbor Genealogical Society for the preservation of thousands of records from a 100-year-old funeral home that closed suddenly. The records were in danger of being lost or discarded until the society stepped in. Twelve boxes of paper were organized, scanned, cataloged and indexed into 19 binders. While this was an effort tackled by almost half of this small society, special recognition was extended to Cathy Cook, Gary Parfitt, Marlene Payne and Bonnie Johannes.

Five local societies were awarded Innovative Grant Awards. See separate blog feature.

The President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement was presented to Joanne Egbert Calhoun of the Wenatchee Area Genealogical Society. See separate blog feature.

For more photos of the seminar and annual meeting, visit our Facebook page.

Local Societies Awarded Innovative Grants

In an announcement made at the WSGS Annual Meeting on 22 Apr 2017 in Yakima, five local societies were  awarded Innovative Grants.

  1. WSGS President Virginia Majewski (middle) presenting an Innovative Grant to Eastern Washington Genealogical Society members Pat Ayers and Mary Holcomb

    Eastside Genealogical Society – to support the scanning and preservation of the society’s historical records for posting on their website.

  2. Eastern Washington Genealogical Society– the purchase of gravestones for nearly forgotten Civil War veterans in the local historic Evergreen Cemetery.
  3. Tri-City Genealogical Society– labeling equipment to provide labels for more than 3,000 books in their research library.
  4. Wenatchee Area Genealogical Society– support of promotional events with genealogy-related themes in WAGS’ “Community Connections” program.
  5. Whitman County Genealogical Society– upgrade office equipment in their research library for safety and efficiency reasons.

The Innovative Grant program was started in 2015 to support the inventive and creative efforts of local societies and organizations. When created, Recognition Chair Roxanne Lowe explained, “We know that local societies can do a lot with very little, so we’re hoping the Innovative Grant Program will be what you need to jump-start a project that has been dreamed about for some time.”

More information about the Innovative Grant program, including a Guidance Document, is available here. A blog article with a list of the 2015 and 2016 recipients and their projects is available here.

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

Joanne Calhoun Honored with President’s Award

President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement honoree Joanne Egbert Calhoun

In an announcement made at the WSGS Annual Meeting on 22 Apr 2017, Joanne Egbert Calhoun was awarded the WSGS President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement. The award, made by WSGS President Virginia Majewski, is designed to single out that rare individual, society or organization that has demonstrated exemplary service above and beyond expectations. And Joanne certainly exemplifies that.

Veterans memorial shrine, Wenatchee City Cemetery

Joanne has been a member of the Wenatchee Area Genealogical Society (WAGS) and its predecessor since 1945, and is often called the “glue” that has kept the society active and strong.  Her willingness to serve as WAGS Treasurer for over 40 years, as well as president for three years, demonstrates exemplary service above and beyond expectations.

Over the years, Joanne has recorded and indexed cemeteries in Chelan and Douglas Counties, as well as indexed 38 years of society’s “Appleland Bulletin” (1972 – 2010). But a few years ago, she really stepped up her involvement, turning a community project that began with the observation, “somebody ought to…” into a full-time commitment.  She identified and collected the histories of World War I veterans once honored in an American Legion Memorial Shrine located at the Veterans’ Memorial Hall, which, sadly, was abandoned when the Hall was destroyed by fire. In 2009, representatives of WAGS, the Wenatchee Valley Museum and the City of Wenatchee arranged for relocation of the memorial building to a place of honor in the Veterans’ section of the Wenatchee City Cemetery.  Joanne’s extensive research and compilation of records included those whose identities had been desecrated or were missing from the monument. After completing four large notebooks containing records for all Chelan and Douglas County veterans serving in World War I, Joanne summarized her efforts, “I thought they shouldn’t be forgotten.”

In determining the award recipient, President Majewski said, “There were some great nominations for the President’s Award and all are certainly deserving, but Joanne stood out as demonstrating a lifetime of contribution to the community.” We honor her accomplishments.

Nancy Cordell Named Region 3 Representative

Dr. Nancy Neville Cordell

Nancy Cordell of Tumwater has been appointed the Regional Representative for Region 3 by WSGS President Virginia Majewski. Region 3 includes Clallam, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason and Thurston counties.

Nancy is an active member of the Olympia Genealogical Society where she currently serves as president.  A professional genealogist, as well as having a Ph.D. in biological anthropology, she helps researchers through her website, Diggin’ Our Past. You’ll learn more about Dr. Nancy in an upcoming “Meet the Board” blog feature.

The Board is still in search of Regional Representative volunteers in a number of areas around the state:

  • Region 1 North – Island (part), San Juan, Snohomish (part)
  •  Region 1 South – Island (part), Skagit, Snohomish (part), Whatcom
  • Region 7 – Ferry, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens
  • Region 8 – Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan

For more information on the responsibilities of a Regional Representative, click here or email WSGS Vice President Donna Potter Phillips at

Yakima Valley Gen Soc and WSGS Partner for Recognition Awards

Featured speaker Jay Fonkert

The WSGS Annual Meeting, which includes the announcement of the Outstanding Volunteers and Teams, Outstanding Communication and Project awards, WSGS President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement and Innovative Grant winners, will be Saturday, April 22, 2017 during the lunch period of Yakima Valley Genealogical Society’s Spring Seminar. The seminar and awards event will be held at the Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Yakima. The seminar’s featured speaker will be professional genealogist Jay Fonkert, a renowned authority on 19th Century Midwest research. His presentations will be:

  • Genealogy Detective Skills: Following Clues from the Census
  • Finding Your Pre-1850 American Ancestors
  • Why Were They There?
  • Who’s on First: Merging and Separating Identities in Family History Research

The YVGS Spring Seminar flyer, including a registration form, can be downloaded here: YVGS Spring Seminar flyer or visit the YVGS website.

Innovative Grant Applications Due March 1

Local Societies:

WSGS wants to help your society! Get your Innovative Grant applications in by Wednesday, March 1, 2017!

The grants, up to $100, are designed to support the inventive and creative efforts of WSGS-member societies and organizations. Up to five grants will be awarded in 2017. These are grants — not loans!

The simple application is only ONE page and is available here. Additional guidance on the program is here.

Here are previously approved Innovative Grants, but look for more ideas in the Guidance Document:


Chelan Valley Genealogical Society – purchase of new magazine containers/binders for the local library’s historical magazines
Northeast Washington Genealogical Society – tree removal in a pioneer cemetery
Skagit Valley Genealogical Society – assistance with computer purchase
Tri-City Genealogical Society – advertising & prizes for writing contest
Wenatchee Area Genealogical Society – specialized software to manage society’s extensive genealogical holdings

Jefferson County Genealogical Society – software upgrade for society’s library and research database
Wenatchee Area Genealogical Society – publicity for dedication and adoption of society mascot Coyote
Whitman County Genealogical Society – assistance with purchase of computer, monitor & back-up software

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

WSGS Board Working for You

President Virginia Majewski, Past President Mikal McKinnon and Secretary Karen Coppernoll

WSGS Board planning session

The WSGS Board of Directors recently held a planning retreat, coupled with their quarterly board meeting. After Past President Mikal McKinnon passed the gavel to Virginia Majewski, the board launched into an earnest discussion about short- and long-term goals and implementing ideas to increase our visibility and improve communication with local societies, individual members and genealogy/history partners.

Numerous ideas and projects were bandied around, many improving and crystallizing as members voiced their opinions. Some projects, such as the Pioneer and First Citizen Program, will benefit from increased emphasis and exposure. There was also much discussion about how to provide additional services and assistance to local societies. More ideas from societies and individuals are always welcome — just contact any board member.

The minutes of the meetings will be posted in the Members’ Only area of the WSGS website once they’re complete.

The board meetings are open to all WSGS members. The next meeting will be Friday, April 21 at the YVGS Library in Union Gap. For more information about WSGS and/or the board of directors, contact President Virginia Majewski.

Front: Donna Phillips, Diane Huckabay, Virginia Majewski, Karin Coppernoll. Middle: Kathy Sizer, Opal Myhres, Patrick Bundy, Patty Olsen, Roxanne Lowe. Back: Frank McLean, Sue Ericksen, Charles Hansen, Janet McKinnon, Mikal McKinnon, Melonie Liening

Diane Huckabay Named to WSGS Board

Diane Huckabay

Diane Huckabay of Ellensburg has been appointed the WSGS Education and Outreach Chair by President Virginia Majewski. Diane, a past president of the Kittitas County Genealogical Society, will assist and support Regional Representatives and local societies in promoting genealogy in Washington State.

Diane will be featured in a future “Meet the Board” story. Welcome to the Board, Diane!

Society Award Deadlines Soon

The Washington State Genealogical Society wants to recognize your good work! We know your society has great members doing great work — and we’d like to celebrate that. Below are the deadlines (and website links) for our recognition awards and special programs.

For more information about the WSGS recognition awards, contact Roxanne Lowe at