DUNKIRK, N.Y. More people than ever before are trying to learn about their own family history. That's largely due to the popular Ancestry.com website along with the NBC TV Show "Who do you think you Are?" - which helps celebrities learn more about their ancestors.
But while both the show and the website (which charges for its service) have done a fine job in promoting the field of genealogy, many people who've become interested in researching their own families are still left with the question "Where to begin?" and "What resources are available?"
The Chautauqua County Genealogical Society (CCGS) is hoping to help answer those questions by holding a Family History Research seminar, believed to be the first of its kind for local residents.
The event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 26, in Dunkirk and according to CCGS officials, it will focus primarily on free online resources and library databases.
"Our seminar will help people learn more about the various websites and online genealogy databases that can be accessed for free, as well as those available through Western New York libraries when researching one's family history," explains Walt Sedlmayer, a CCGS trustee and organizer of the event. "It will also provide some important things people need to keep in mind when doing online research, including tips for searching databases and also how to know for certain that the person you are researching is your family member and not just some other random person who happens to have the same name."
Featured speakers include research specialist Rhonda Konig from the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library and Norman Carlson from the Fenton Historical Society in Jamestown.
Konig will deliver two presentations during the seminar. In the morning, she'll do a session on HeritageQuest Online, while in the afternoon, she'll focus on Library Edition.
Konig has ten years of experience as a genealogy librarian and has been researching her own family history for 15 years. She currently works at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library and serves as the Genealogy Librarian in the Grosvenor Room, which is the Special Collections Department at the Central Library in Buffalo. She also serves on the Executive Board of the Western New York Genealogical Society and has a part-time genealogy research business. Konig is a graduate of a SUNY Geneseo with a Bachelor of Arts in History and received her Master of Library Science from SUNY Buffalo.
Carlson has served as the collections manager at the Fenton History Center in Jamestown since 1995. During that time, he's assisted a countless number of people in their quest to find information about past residents. He is also president of the Busti Historical Society and is actively involved with the Chautauqua County Genealogical and Chautauqua County Historical Societies, the Harmony Historical Society and Sons of the American Revolution. Carlson graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor's degree in science. He later attended Purdue University and earned a Master of Science degree in entomology.
"We think there is a real interest in the area for people who want to do family research, but most people are not aware of the breadth of resources available to them" Sedlmayer says. "This seminar will cover major free family history websites and library databases that are available for genealogy research. We think it will be extremely useful for both the novice researchers, as well as those who've been doing it for a while but may have reached a dead end with their current research strategies."
The daylong event will be run from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Clarion Hotel in Dunkirk, NY on April 26 and will include morning refreshments and a lunch buffet. The cost is $25 per person and seating is limited. Reservations are requested by April 1.
About the Society:
The Chautauqua County Genealogical Society was established in 1977, with a mission to promote, aid and encourage genealogical research; to identify, record and make available genealogical records relating to Chautauqua County and to publish records in various forms; and to hold meetings and conduct seminars to further genealogical knowledge. For more information on the society, visit www.Chautgen.org.