Saturday, October 13, 2012

Family History Month? How about Family History *Week*?

Hmm, I'm not quite sure how I did this to myself.  Somehow I am scheduled for nine genealogy events in nine days, starting today (Saturday).  I mean, I love genealogy as much as the next person (okay, probably more than the next person!), but I may have gone a bit overboard this time.

Saturday was our fourth Black Family History Day, held at the Oakland FamilySearch Library (formerly the Family History Center) and coordinated by the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California.  We had about 55 attendees and a dozen and a half volunteers.  As usual, I was helping people with one-on-one consultations, where we sit down and actually look for records relating to the family.  I worked with five people today and was able to find at least one record for each person.  One man's ancestor was a free person of color living in Virginia who rendered assistance to the Confederate government.  We found several documents relating to the ancestor on, showing what he sold to the government and how much he was paid.  My only disappointment was that none of the friends I invited came today.  Maybe they'll be at the next one, in February!

Sunday morning I will teach my genealogy class at the Jewish community high school in Berkeley, and then drive to Davis to give a presentation to the Davis Genealogy Club on how even when you start with very little information, you can still methodically build on what you have step by step and learn more about your family.  Tuesday I will give my new talk about vital records (which was originally going to be in September; boy, I wish that had worked out) at the Oakland FamilySearch Library, for the California Genealogical Society.  Thursday I will be at the Napa Valley Genealogical Society with my overview of how helpful online newspapers can be in family history research.  Saturday is the Concord FamilySearch Library's annual Digging for Your Roots one-day conference, and I will teach the online newspapers class and the class I am teaching in Davis.  And I will wrap up my family history marathon the next day, when I will be at my high school genealogy class in the morning, and then preside over the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society meeting in the afternoon (where Steve Danko will explain how the scientific method can be applied to genealogy problem-solving).

Oh, and I'm doing all that while maintaining my regular work and research schedule.

Oy!  I better stock up on Mountain Dew!


  1. Sounds like you are going to be out of mischief for quite awhile. I'm new to your blog. I have Jewish ancestry which I can not locate their roots. Unfortunately there are not in the US. They came to Canada in the early 1900s, but know very little of where they came from. Some Russia, some Poland, some Bokavina, some in England. Some had their names changed. Where does one begin?

  2. Welcome to my blog, and thanks for being here! As for your research, begin by talking to any and all family members to see what they know. Sometimes even the smallest piece of information can be helpful. Look for your relatives in each available census to see what they say. Did any of your relatives become Canadian citizens? Order their naturalization files; they also will have useful information. If your relatives belonged to synagogues, find out if the synagogues have kept things such as old bulletins, membership lists, donation lists, etc. or if they are available in an archive. These resources can often give you strong hints as to the specific towns your relatives were from. Try to obtain as many birth, marriage, and death records as possible. Sometimes a town will be listed. And look for them coming to Canada or leaving England on ship manifests.

    It may take a while, but there is a good possibility you can find the specific places your relatives came from. Good luck with your research!


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