New Blog Banner Photos Posted

Have you noticed the Blog banner changes every time you visit? The photos are submitted by readers like you — and Carol Norder Brumbaugh Ballard of Lacey and Sue Schack Jensen, Library Director at the Seattle Genealogical Society. Carol sent us a serene photo of Chambers Lake in Panorama in Lacey. Sue sent us six beautiful scenic photos of Seattle’s skyline and waterfront, including this Goose Parade near Issaquah. Watch the blog banner for all of these photos!

Goose Parade photo by Sue Schack Jensen and Ron C. Jensen, Seattle

We’re always looking for scenic photos of our beautiful state for the rotating photo gallery on the blog banner. It’s easy — just send a Washington State jpg image to with a description of the photo. The blog masters will take care of the rest!

Blog Banner Photos Wanted

Have you noticed the Blog banner changes every time you visit? The photos are submitted by readers like you. We’re always looking for scenic photos of our beautiful state 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. If in doubt, send it to us & we’ll figure it out.
•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 prize if your photo is chosen – just the satisfaction that your photo is being showcased on a blog viewed by hundreds of enthusiastic genealogists.
•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

Western Washington Society Presidents Organize

Respectively submitted by Celia McNay, Eastside Genealogical Society, past president

The 2020 pandemic has been a challenge to all of us, causing many genealogical societies to rethink their mission, and how we can best serve the genealogical community. We’re rising to that challenge in various ways. One of those is the creation of the Western WA Genealogical Society Presidents Council.  Out of a need for more networking, sharing, and support through the changes, Liz Osborn, the new president of Tacoma-Pierce County Genealogical Society (TPCGS), reached out to other presidents in the western side of the state.  She invited us to a Zoom meeting in late June.  At that first online meet-up, there were eight people in attendance:  Liz; Jill Morelli, past president of Seattle GS; Jim Secan, new president of SGS; Lorraine Graeber, secretary of Tacoma-Pierce County GS; Kathy Erlandson, Olympia GS; Celia McNay, president of Eastside GS; Jane Wickert, vice-president of Eastside GS; and Karen Van Haagen Campbell, representing both the Jewish GS of WA State and the Black Genealogy Research Group.

We talked for two hours, sharing ideas, events, challenges, and hopes for the future.  Some of the future topics for discussion identified at that first meeting included new president training, regional Special Interest Groups (SIGs), the defunct Family History Fair, the State (WSGS) organization, social media use, outreach activities, online general meetings and Board meetings, technology, insurance coverage, places to meet after Covid-19, and more.  It was a dynamic and energized group of like-minded people with a focus on making our genealogical societies better in this new restricted, yet freeing atmosphere.  

Meeting on the 4th Tuesday of the month, attendance at the July meeting jumped to 15 participants.  September included a ‘guest’ speaker Ginny Majewski as both the president of WSGS and her local society.  In October, Celia McNay (Eastside GS) presented information for a new president as part of a leadership training segment.  Valorie Zimmerman (South King County GS) facilitated the creation of an email exchange through GroupsIO for the presidents.  Jill Morelli (Seattle GS) created a chart of each GS’s SIGs with contact information.  Small steps but steps forward none the less.

This group is open to any president (or designee) of a genealogical society, genealogical library, research group, etc. who might benefit from the networking.  The stated purpose from the first meeting still holds true:  To come together to see in what ways we can support each other and work together.  As a group, we support the Washington State Genealogical Society and are not trying to re-invent the wheel.  But we felt a need for leaders to share ideas and events, successes and bombs, structures and changes.  The online world we have been thrust into is new to all of us and we want to succeed together!

The next meeting is 24 Nov 2020 from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. on Zoom.  To be added to the distribution list and join this group, contact Jim Secan at who will be conducting that meeting.  

Day 2 at the Northwest Genealogy Conference

“Sergeant” Michael Strauss ready for duty

Attention! That’s military talk for listen up! And that’s what we did during keynote speaker Michael Strauss’s presentations. Entertaining, energetic, informative — everything from the Colonial Wars through WWII. All three sessions kept us rapt with “attention!”

Diane Carter from Aberdeen channeling her Colonial ancestor

An always super fun activity at the conference is the “Dress Like Your Ancestor Day.” It was so fun to see attendees dressed as their Salem Witch ancestor (complete with noose), Colonial dame (watch out for that hoop skirt!), Norwegian (or German or New England or Irish or…other parts of the globe) ancestor. We all love to talk about our ancestors and today it was so fun to see them walking around the conference.

My two “extra” classes today were Sara Cochran’s “Irish Eyes Are Smiling: Finding Vital Records in the Land of Sain” and “Motive, Means and Opportunity: The Sad Saga of George Richards” with Jean Hibben. I’d never taken a workshop with their instructor, but will in the future. Great information and presentations!

Yo ho! Yo ho!

Ahoy, maties! The evening closed with the annual banquet at the Gleneagle Golf Course. The always entertaining Daniel Earl kept us laughing all through his presentation on pirates. Yes, pirates! Who would have known how piracy affected our ancestors!

Tomorrow’s the last day of the conference, but a full one. Looking forward to hearing Thomas MacEntee — via video conference. Unfortunately, Thomas was unable to fly to the conference, but being the professional that he is, conference organizers arranged to have him live through the wonders of technology.

Day 1 at the Northwest Genealogy Conference

You could feel the excitement and energy in the building as more than 250 genealogy enthusiasts gathered at the Byrnes Performing Arts Center for the first full day of the 2019 Northwest Genealogy Conference.

Our keynote speaker was the amazing Angie Bush. Angie is a senior genealogist with Ancestry ProGenealogists. She’s also one of my favorite DNA speakers. She uses clear language, great examples and case studies and really keeps up on the ever-changing world of DNA.

Angie Bush speaking at Thursday’s conference

Angie’s presentations today included Direct Line Testing (Y-DNA & mtDNA), Answering Genealogical Questions with Autosomal DNA and Power Tools to Make the Most of Your DNA Test. I had many “ah ha’s” to take home to apply to my own DNA results. Lots of notes scribbled on my syllabus.

Jill Morelli channeling her inner Sherlock Holmes with Roxanne Lowe

In addition to the three keynote presentations, the conference attendees had to make the difficult choice of choosing just two workshops from the ten offered. I opted for Janice Lovelace’s “Becoming Washington: Who Came to the Northwest and Why” and “The Genealogical Proof Standard According to Sherlock Holmes” with Jill Morelli. Both classes were standing room only — more chairs brought in to Janice’s Washington class and Jill’s Sherlock Holmes class was moved to a bigger classroom.

I had a chance to visit a few vendors — interesting! Will buy raffle tickets and visit the Heritage Quest Research Library book store tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow…great fun is in store! It’s “Dress Like Your Ancestor” day! You can still register for the day. Doors open at 7:30 a.m. We’re waiting for you!

NWGC 2019 is Here!

The Northwest Genealogy Conference is one of the region’s best learning and networking opportunities. I look forward to it all year and today didn’t disappoint! In case you hadn’t heard, the conference, in its sixth year, is August 14 – 17, 2019, at the Byrnes Performing Arts Center at Arlington High School.

Angie Bush showing Julie Miller from Olympia how to maximize her DNA matches on AncestryDNA.

The afternoon began for many taking advantage of Janet O’Conor Camarata’s free beginning class. I saw more than beginners in the class — there’s always something new to learn or relearn in the world of genealogy. There were also three “advanced workshops” offered: Connecting DNA Matches with Angie Bush, Family History Writing with Lisa Alzo and Disaster Proofing Your Research with Sara Cochran. There was a lot of buzz about all three classes.

Daniel Earl and Michael Strauss enjoyed Wednesday evening’s Meet and Greet

The evening closed with a “Meet and Greet” taco bar at the Gleneagle Golf Course. What a great way to see old friends and make new ones.

Tomorrow we’ll be treated to three DNA-related plenary sessions with Angie Bush and “Making the Most from Your Public Library” with Jennifer Foreman. In addition to Angie’s and Jennifer’s presentations, we’ll also have to choose just two classes from the ten offered — everything from death, dying and burial customs to finding ancestors without the 1890 census. In combing through the 170-page syllabus, I’m not sure how I’ll be able to choose!

If you aren’t one of the 250+ people who have already registered for the conference, don’t despair! You can register at the door for one day, two days or all three! You can’t register online anymore (and meals are not available for on-site registrants), but show up at the door and the uber-efficient volunteers from conference host Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society will get you set up. Just show up early! Doors open at the Byrnes Performing Arts Center at 7:30 a.m.

I’m excited, full of energy and enthusiasm! More tomorrow…

One Week to Go Before NWGC

Northwest Genealogy Conference

There is only a week before the Northwest Genealogy Conference, August 14-17 in Arlington, WA.

If you’re still thinking about whether to attend or not, consider these benefits and offerings:

  • Unlimited networking with other enthusiastic genealogists.
  • More than two dozen top-notch presenters offering more than 30 classes. Keynote speakers will be Thomas MacEntee (through the magic of video), Angie Bush and Michael Strauss — all amazing presenters. What an opportunity to hear nationally renowned experts right here in Western Washington!
  • Whether you consider yourself a beginner or more advanced genealogist, attend the FREE beginning genealogy session on Wednesday, the 14th, with Janet Conor Camarata. There’s always something to learn (or relearn!) in the world of genealogy.
  • There are still openings in some of the “advanced” workshops held on Wednesday. Pre-registration and payment is required. Click here for more information.
  • If you’ve got a young person interested in attending, a complimentary youth registration (ages 13-17) is available with one paid full conference registration. (Email or call the Society at 360-435-4838 for further information.)
  • Vendors! Vendors! Vendors! Don’t miss the opportunity to see what’s new!
  • Sign up for all three days or just one — fit it into your schedule.
  • Maybe you’ll find a cousin if you post a surname message on the Cousin Board in the registration area. A great way to connect with other attendees.

Don’t miss this opportunity. Sign up today by clicking here.

Free Class at NWGC

Sign up for one of the best bargains of the summer! A FREE Beginning Genealogy day with Janet Camarata on August 14th at the Northwest Genealogy Conference in Arlington. Sign up here.

During Janet’s jam-packed workshop (1:00 – 4:30 p.m.), she’ll cover:

Janet Conor Camarata
  • Are you a Genealogist or Family Historian?
  • The Basics of the Genealogical Hunt
  • Organizing Strategies for Genealogy Success
  • Locating Genealogy Records Online and Off-line
  • Techniques and Tools to Transform your Approach to Research
  • Resources and References for Improved Research Results
  • Tips to avoid Genealogy Traps, Confusion, and Overload
  • The Next Steps as a Genealogist

Don’t consider yourself a beginner? Good for you, but I can attest that I learn (or relearn!) something in every workshop I attend. So, sign up for this great opportunity whether you’re a beginner or intermediate or advanced researcher!

New Blog Banner Photos Posted

Picnic Point on Puget Sound near Edmonds, Washington. Photo by Sue Schack Jensen, Seattle.

Have you noticed the Blog banner changes every time you visit? The photos are submitted by readers like you — and Sue Schack Jensen, Library Director at the Seattle Genealogical Society. Sue recently sent us three beautiful scenic photos of Picnic Point on the Puget Sound near Edmonds.

We’re always looking for scenic photos of our beautiful state for the rotating photo gallery on the blog banner. It’s easy — just send a Washington State jpg image to with a description of the photo. The blog masters will take care of the rest!

Grays Harbor Research Library Is Open For Business

Great news! After a year of restoration and reorganization, the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society Research Library is open for business on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Hoquiam Library, 420 7th Street, Hoquiam.

The society’s research library was destroyed by a three-alarm fire that destroyed the Aberdeen Armory on 09 Jun 2018. The fire also destroyed much of the Aberdeen Museum of History, Coastal Community Action Program and the Aberdeen Senior Center. The cause of the fire was never determined.

The Grays Harbor Genealogical Society’s Research Library was housed on the 1st floor of the Amory Building.

The losses were catastrophic to the small society which had been housed at the location since 2003. Staffed completely by volunteers, the research library lost:

  • More than 22,000 hard copy obituaries that were taped to index cards and stuffed tightly in metal file cabinets were lost. Fortunately, a digital newspaper obit index was stored off-site.
  • Thousands of mortuary records from now closed Whiteside and Elerding Funeral Homes, for funerals from 1907 – 2015. The Washington State Library graciously offered to scan their collection of over 200 four-inch binders.
  • Birth, marriage and death records from the 1870s to 1907.
  • Chehalis County Marriage Index from the 1850s to 1990s.
  • Unique compilations of cemetery inventories for outlying cemeteries.
  • Tables, chairs, pencils, pens, notepads, wastepaper baskets, bulletin boards, photographs, signage…you get the idea.

Thanks to the generous donations from fellow genealogical societies and individuals, Grays Harbor Gen Soc was able to purchase signage, a photocopier/scanner, computers, shelving, binders, pencils, and furniture. They were also able to find a temporary space, compliments of the Hoquiam Library.

Donation from the Clallam County Gen Soc

GHGS is still very much on the lookout for Grays Harbor-related materials like old city directories, telephone books, school yearbooks, family histories, obituaries, etc. If you have materials related specifically to Grays Harbor or Chehalis Counties, they’d love to hear from you at