Sunday, November 23, 2014

Shaking the Family Tree

By Jeff Burns

Searching for Family History
I’ve dabbled in genealogy off and on; it’s a real interest, but it takes time and devotion, and I too often find other things getting in the way.  Fortunately, I have a couple of cousins who have done quite a lot of work and who have fleshed out one family line pretty well, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

A couple of months ago, thinking about genealogy sparked an idea for hosting an event at my school, which is a major part of the community.   The idea was to hold an introductory workshop for anyone interested in beginning or continuing family history research. My principal and members of my department were all enthusiastic when I shared the idea, and I started planning.   I called on contacts made through my participation in Teaching American History Grants and as a Histocrat: 

Ms. Sharon Lukiri, a history teacher met at a workshop over the summer who is genealogist and member of the Georgia Genealogical Society and the Afro American Genealogical Society,

Mr. Gene  Morris, the Henry County historian,

Ms. Sara Jane Overstreet, a retired educator and member of the Genealogical Society of Henry and Clayton Counties and the Daughters of the American Revolution who has led numerous genealogy classes,

Mr. Joel Walker, education specialist at the National Archives-Atlanta, located in Morrow, Georgia.

They were all quick to volunteer and graciously offered to give up an evening for the event. The other Histocrats were also quick to offer their assistance.

My plan was to introduce each speaker to make a few opening remarks and then have them available in different areas of the school media center, so that attendees could move around and talk to the experts one on one or in small groups.  When the night arrived, there were about 20 attendees – smaller than I had hoped, but for a first effort, really not too bad a turnout.  Mr. Morris opened the evening by talking about the founding of Henry County (in the 1820s) and the first settlements and families in our particular area.  Then, Ms. Overstreet and Ms. Lukiri each spoke about getting started and gave helpful advice about not getting overwhelmed.  Finally, Mr. Walker, who admitted from the start that he was not an expert on genealogy, gave a great introduction to resources that are available in the  archives location and online through the archives website. 

Attendees then spoke to each experts and got assistance and ideas as they went from area to area.  The evening turned out to be a great success. Attendees got lots of great resource ideas and tips, and several said they were motivated to get home and get underway on their own family trees. The presenters created a lot of interest in their organizations and may have attracted society members.  It was a great night of community involvement, and I’m thinking about future programs.  I would like to give special thanks to the presenters and to the Histocrats and the administration of Ola High School for their support.

Organization Resources:

Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc. (AAHGS), Atlanta

Georgia Genealogical Society

National Archives-Information for Genealogists

Andrew McBride Chapter Daughters of the AmericanRevolution, McDonough GA    

Genealogical Society of Henry & Clayton Counties, McDonough GA    

Other Resources:
Genealogy Worldwide

Genealogy in Georgia

Genealogy in US

Genealogy of Special Populations

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