Genealogists, it’s that season of the year again, and it’s time to give yourselves a gift.
What kind of gift? Well, you’re genealogists. Give yourselves something that will help you solve those mysteries that have bedeviled you all through 2013.
So, wrap up these neat little items and put them under your Christmas tree.
Membership in a genealogy club. Wyoming Valley area has a really great genealogy group. When you join, you get not just meetings with speakers (although that’s pretty good itself), but access to the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society’s research center. That center isn’t just a static repository of material; it’s also a place where you can find folks to advise you on all your research problems, as well as occasional in-depth workshops on ethnic studies and the latest technological helps. Get details at www.nepgs.com.
A visit to a huge local historical resource. Probably to most people the Luzerne County Historical Society (www.luzernehistory.org) is that nice group of people putting on historic presentations every December. If you join, though, you’ll get access to a fantastic library of local newspaper microfilm, city directories, local history books, family histories and highly useful research sources such as the Phillips collection of local history materials. By the way, don’t neglect the many smaller historical societies in the area.
A county library card. While you’re at it, go two doors down South Franklin Street and make the acquaintance of the Osterhout Free Library’s truly great local history collection (in the reference room). You’ll find valuable local history at other libraries as well, generally focused on the specific community.
Some good reading. Recent issues of “Family Tree Magazine” (www.familytreemagazine.com) have offered articles ranging from how to trace Scandinavian ancestors to preserving old family home movies. You’ll also find help keeping up to date on technology. Books in libraries and bookstores address special topics such as finding old military records and researching in specific nations and nationalities. At the store, don’t miss the new lines of local-themed books picturing the world your Wyoming Valley ancestors knew.
The Internet. Check out www.ancestry.com, where for a membership fee you’ll enjoy access to a variety of databases, including U.S. Census records. They have an introductory program. There’s lots of free stuff. If you aren’t checking out the Genweb sites for counties where your ancestors lived, go there. Just type in “(county name) Genweb” and you’ll find message boards and information on local research sources. Major institutions such as the National Archives, the state archives and state university libraries have websites that let you access vital material.
A night out. When you see in your Times Leader a notice about an upcoming genealogy presentation or a talk on local history, head on over – and bring your questions. I guarantee your researches will take a big leap forward. Sometimes a visit to a local historic site (the Swetland Home, Eckley Miners Village) will not only have nostalgic appeal but will also serve as the inspiration for renewed effort.
Remember the thrill many decades ago of that Christmas morning dollhouse or electric football game? Well these genealogical gifts under your tree will give you a just as big a thrill, and it’s one that will last forever.
Genealogy Society Update: The Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society recently inaugurated its leadership team for 2014. Officers are President Roseann Kebles, Vice President Ron Scheff, Treasurer Catherine Scheff and Secretary Helen O’Brien. Joining the board of directors are new members Lisa Doren and Norene Bradshaw.