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.

Mount St. Helens. Photo taken 10 Nov 2018 by Roxanne Lowe.

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

How to Post Your News and Events

Do you want to broadcast information about your local society, workshop, genealogical tip, or a research query? Just send it to the WSGS Blog and WSGS Meetings and Events! You can reach hundreds of genealogists from around the state. Just email a Word document, text file, PDF or graphic to and  and we’ll 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 and viewers.

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.

Heritage Quest Research Library Developing Roadmap to Success

The venerable Heritage Quest Research Library is undergoing a revitalization. Long known for packing more than 15,000 foreign and state books, family histories and special subject titles; microfiche; historic maps; computers; classes and a bookstore into a small space in Sumner, Washington, the Board of Trustees of the all-volunteer-run institution is looking to the future with fresh eyes. The library, begun in 1985 by Leland Meitzler with his personal collection, has changed and grown over the years. With today’s changing needs and resources, however, the Board of Trustees and Management Team felt it was time to develop a roadmap for the future.

HQRL Board Chair Laura Livingston, Director Jo-Anne Huber and Vice Chair Doug Sawyer

In June and July 2018, the Board administered a survey to its members asking a wide range of questions related to who uses the library, how information is conveyed, what services are used and the volunteer experience. An astonishing 30 percent of its members responded to the survey. Using the insightful information gleaned from the survey, as well as conversations with the Management Team, the Board began to work on a long-term strategic plan. Once the plan is drafted, it will be posted on the HQRL website for review and comment. A revised plan is scheduled for unveiling at the HQRL annual meeting in January.

One thing appears clear about the HQRL effort: the passion and dedication to make HQRL a  premier genealogy resource for its members, patrons and guests of the library is resolute. The Board of Trustees, under the leadership of Laura Livingston, has stepped up their role to include more management of day-to-day operations. Working closely with HQRL Director Jo-Anne Huber and the Management Team, the Board is excited about ensuring the future stability and visibility of the library.

The research library, located at 1007 Main Street in Sumner, is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed on Sunday. If you’re interested in becoming a member of the HQRL, single memberships are $40 per year; $45 per year for a family.

Eastern Washington Gen Soc Hosts Successful Fall Seminar

Dave Obee with the WSGS Blog Team: Charles Hansen, Roxanne Lowe and Donna Potter-Phillips.

Despite a last minute venue change, the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society‘s annual Fall Seminar went off without a hitch — at least to the 70+ attendees.

Leading Canadian genealogy expert Dave Obee delivered five presentations in an information-packed day. One of my favorite gems was my introduction to — a Canada only version of Cyndi’s List. So many resources to investigate to learn more about my New Brunswicker great-grandparents!

Organizers of the EWGS Fall Seminar should be very proud of themselves for pulling off this event. I felt so welcome — just like one of the group. If you’re looking for a well-done workshop, mark your calendar for Saturday, April 6, 2019. EWGS is hosting popular lecturer Sunny Jane Morton for their Spring Seminar. Donna Potter-Phillips (my gracious weekend hostess and fellow blogger) gave us a heads-up in this blog post.

HQRL Autumn Quest a Success

What a day: DNA all day.

Even expert genealogists Cyndi Ingle (left) and Mary Kathryn Kozy (right) can learn a thing or two from Angie (middle). 05 Oct 2018

Spending the day listening to someone with a Bachelor’s Degree in Molecular Biology, a Master’s in Biotechnology and an alphabet soup of initials behind her name  may not be everyone’s cup of cappuccino, but if that someone is professional genealogist Angie Bush, run, don’t walk, to sign up. And that’s just what over 135 enthusiasts (double the number from last year) did at the recent Heritage Quest Research Library’s Autumn Quest to listen to Angie’s DNA presentations.

Held at the Emerald Queen Conference Center in Fife on Friday, 05 Oct 2018, Angie educated and entertained us on the science behind our DNA results, testing companies, “power tools,” and finding biological family histories for adoptees. She had just the right mix of technical information and storytelling.

Heritage Quest Research Library is undergoing some major revitalization efforts (more on that next week). Judging by the success of the 2018 Autumn Quest, they’ll have lots of support and enthusiasm.

Grays Harbor Fundraiser Workshop Set for Saturday

Photo by Eric Timmons; published in The Vidette, Montesano.

The Grays Harbor Genealogical Society is sponsoring a fundraiser workshop on Saturday, 13 Oct 2018 with Portland area professional genealogist Pam Vestal. The workshop will be 1:00 – 3:15 p.m. at the American Legion Hall, 112 W. First St., Aberdeen. Cost is $25/person. ***Check out the special deal at the end of this post!***

Pam has donated her time and talent to help the society recover from the massive fire at the Aberdeen Armory on June 9 that destroyed their research library. Proceeds from the fundraiser will be dedicated to rebuilding the research library’s genealogical collections. Pam will be presenting (1) “Voting Records” and (2) “Finding What You Need & Making the Most of What You Find.”

*** If you sign up in advance, you’re eligible to attend a FREE morning session (10:00) with Pam called “Beyond Obituaries: Discovering Your Ancestor’s Life in Records of Death.” Just send an email to

Latest on Grays Harbor Research Library

Fire at Aberdeen Armory, home of the GHGS Research Library, 09 Jun 2018

The Grays Harbor Genealogical Society has had a few ups and downs recently as they begin to rebuild their research library. As you may remember, their 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.

What GHGS lost

While it may take years to determine everything that was lost, the society is particularly saddened about the loss of:

  • More than 22,000 hard copy obituaries that were taped to index cards and stuffed tightly in metal file cabinets. Fortunately, a digital newspaper obit index was stored off-site. Efforts are being made to find area obituaries at other locations, such as local libraries.
  • Thousands of mortuary records from now closed Whiteside and Elerding Funeral Homes, for funerals from 1907 – 2015. The Washington State Library has graciously offered to scan their collection of over 200 four-inch binders.
  • Birth, marriage and death records from the 1970s 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.

Current situation

The cause of the fire is still undetermined. In addition, we are still unable to get inside the building. At last report, the City of Aberdeen (owners of the building) need to hire a structural engineer to assess the building’s integrity. After that, a separate company will be hired to clean up the building, then a third company to carry out the recovery. The City has activated a Board of Museum and History to discuss the future of the Aberdeen Museum.

Thanks to the generous donations from fellow genealogical societies and individuals, we were able to purchase a photocopier and two computers. We were also able to find a temporary space, compliments of the Hoquiam Library. Due to a remodeling project at the library, however, we have had to move again — into members’ spare rooms and storage.

What we’re looking for

Donation from Clallam County Genealogical Society

We’ve been extraordinarily grateful to those local societies and individuals who have offered financial aid and resources. We have suspended our Go Fund Me page, but donations may still be made directly to GHGS, P.O. Box 916, Aberdeen, WA 98520.

We’re very much on the lookout for Grays Harbor-related materials like old city directories, telephone books, school yearbooks, family histories, obituaries, etc. No donation is too small. Many societies have scoured their holdings and sent us area-specific books. If you have materials related specifically to Grays Harbor or Chehalis Counties, we’d love to hear from you at

What’s next

We are sponsoring a workshop fundraiser on Saturday, October 13, from 1:00 – 3:15 at the American Legion Hall, 115 W. First Street, Aberdeen. Professional genealogist Pam Vestal from the Portland area has donated her time and talent for the two-session workshop fundraiser. The cost is $25 per person. Those that sign up early may attend a free class with Pam in the morning. For more information, contact

Final word

No update on our situation would be complete without thanking all those who have contacted us to express their sympathies and support. Every message, donation and kind word has been humbly appreciated.

Eastside Gen Soc Uses Innovative Grant for Workshop

Maureen Taylor (left) and Celia McNay, Eastside Genealogical Society President

The Eastside Genealogical Society threw itself a 40th birthday party on Saturday, 15 Sep 2018. The society has been celebrating every month this year in a small way, but really hit the big time hosting Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, in an all-day workshop in Bellevue. The workshop was free to EGS members as a thank you for 40 years of support, while others paid a small fee. Ms. Taylor presented Photo Detecting 101, Google Images and Beyond and Discovering Genealogical Clues in Photographs. Well done, value-added presentations all around.

EGS used its 2018 WSGS Innovative Grant to help fund the workshop — an excellent use of the grant. Besides the Eastside Genealogical Society, the four other successful 2018 grant winners were:

  • Lower Columbia Genealogical Society to purchase genealogical books to donate to the Longview Public Library for public use. Lower Columbia has generously donated books for a number of years, using money from membership dues and their coffee stops.
  • Okanogan Genealogical Society to help purchase supplies to repair and preserve books holding the “Tonasket Times” newspaper from 1913 – 1952.
  • Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society to help publish a book on “Early Stillaguamish Valley Schools” in the Arlington Area.
  • Wenatchee Area Genealogical Society for digital preservation of family records, library holdings and archival documents.

More information about the deadlines for the 2019 Innovative Grants will be publicized in the coming months.

Day 3 at the Northwest Genealogy Conference

How time flies when you’re having fun! The last day of the Northwest Genealogy Conference was again filled with classes, networking, book sales, vendors and amazing discoveries.

Our keynote speaker for the day was Beth Foulk, whose energetic style entertained us with tales from colonial immigration to the importance of the crossroads state of Missouri to the battle for bounty lands. My “extra” class was Rich Venezia‘s “Emerald Isle Express: Researching Irish Ancestors.” He gave me some new resources and encouragement in finding my Irish ancestors. My hopes spring eternal that I’ll find ol’ Patrick Murphy (no middle name) and Lawrence Ryan (also no middle name and the son of a string of like-named men).

Stilly President Ruth Caesar with conference co-chairs Phil and Lisa Bartlow

I can’t heap enough praise on the amazing volunteers from conference hosts Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society. Did you know it takes approximately 2,500 hours to ensure the success of this conference — and it shows! I look forward to it every year. In fact, I’ve already marked my calendar for next year’s conference: August 14 – 17, 2019. Michael Strauss and Thomas MacEntee have already jumped on board to headline two of the days.