Friday, July 21, 2017

My Genealogy Mentor: Marge Bell, June 8, 1946–July 20, 2017

Enoch and Marge Bell, Oakland FamilySearch Library, June 15, 2017
It's likely that even in the genealogy world, not a lot of people outside the San Francisco Bay area knew Marge Bell.  But in the Bay Area, she was well known and appreciated for her contributions and knowledge.  She had been on staff at the Oakland FamilySearch Library for many years, and we all relied on her.

Marge had also been researching her own family history for years, and her research was of the highest caliber.  She deplored the state of online family trees, whether on Ancestry, FamilySearch, or somewhere else.  She was particularly aggravated when FamilySearch began its collaborative tree, which allowed others to "correct" your information.  Marge had meticulously researched her tree, and she knew that any information she posted was accurate.  While everyone else (multiple times over) had her distant female ancestor's father as one man, she was the apparently the first (and only) person who made the effort to search through the unindexed loose probate documents for the county to find the father was a totally different man.

Marge was my genealogy mentor.  She tricked me into teaching my first genealogy class, but she gave me advice and feedback throughout the time I was creating the presentation.  She came to that first class and let me know what went well and what could use some work.  Her recommendations always improved my work and made my talks better.  I can't imagine where I would be without the benefit of years of her advice and support.

Marge was also wonderful to brainstorm with.  She could offer a different perspective and new insights on difficult research problems that had me stumped.  Sometimes I was even able to return the favor.  We enjoyed bouncing ideas off of each other.

Marge announced she was moving to Utah about the same time I had begun to make my plans to move to Oregon.  She warned me that just because we each were moving didn't mean I wasn't going to hear from her when she had a question or wanted a second opinion.  Unfortunately, I won't be receiving any more messages from her.

Marge had just barely moved to Utah when her health took a turn for the worse, one from which she was unable to recover.  The genealogy community, especially that of the Bay area and the Oakland FamilySearch Library, has lost a tremendous resource and a dear, loving friend.


  1. My condolences. I lost my genea-friend, Ruth Maness, from the Family History Library in Salt Lake on 22 June. A very nice tribute to Marge.

  2. I'm so sorry to hear this Janice. I'm surebyou will honor her memory by continuing to follow her lead.

    1. Thank you, Dera. I will do my best to carry on her work.


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