The Dusty Genealogist
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Go to a Genealogy Event! Enjoy Your Hobby to the Fullest!

By: Marjory Regan

Please make time to attend the Buffalo Family History Center’s “Finding Your Roots 2019” event on the 19th of this month. Registration is not required, but it helps. If it is the first time you have ever been to the center, or the first time attending a day of genealogical classes, it will be quite a pleasant experience.

You will be totally immersed in genealogy. Whether beginner or experienced genealogist, there are classes for you. If you come alone or bring a friend, you will have a good time. This is a fun time for all genealogists and an opportunity to share some of the fun and excitement this hobby can offer. You may meet new friends and new cousins (once, twice, three times removed, or however this cousin thing works). This seminar is an experience well worth jumping into.

Oh, did I mention that it is FREE admission, FREE parking, and great classes? Family History Center, 1424 Maple Road, Williamsville, NY, “Finding Your Roots 2019” starts at 9AM on the 19th of October. Register today at <> to sign up for specific classes you are interested in.

There are a number of classes and workshops offered, including “Scandinavian Research” and “Finnish Research.” As any genealogist will attest, you learn a lot more information other than just your ancestors’ information. When I began to research my Swedish/Viking ancestors, I made my way to the Family History Center with my pencil and my paper in genealogical helplessness. Oh, I knew a couple of names; I was even a little better off because I had an old photo with my grandmother’s writing on the back with a location and date.

But I didn’t even know enough to have looked at a map of Sweden to see if the location was a city. I didn’t speak the language, so I had no clue how to find out information from records that were written in Swedish. Truly, I was clueless, and I wasn’t even considered a beginner in genealogy research.

I was fortunate to meet a volunteer who knew about the Viking Hoard, as my genealogical friends refer to my ancestors. I have a great grandfather going back to the 700s named Maddog, who was the son of Maddog. After watching the Vikings television series on the History Channel, many of my genealogical friends remind me that my personality comes directly from him and his side of the family.

What I learned from that volunteer was that you didn’t need to know the language, just a small part. The word for birth, christening, marriage, death, burial, and some words for a moving location, in that language. With those seven words, in that language, I could find the information I needed. Next, I was asked where my family came from. I showed my picture. The volunteer asked where that was on the map of Sweden. That was when I realized that looking at a map would be a good idea (sometimes the simple things elude us.)

What I came away with from that wonderful experience, because she helped me through each step, was the concept that maps are important. A map of the time when your ancestor lived in that place, not a new map with modern information, because boundaries change all the time. Looking at the surrounding areas on a map is very helpful. Many times, family did not move far from their homes. Attending the class on “Using Land Records and Sanborn Maps” helps to put the pieces together and is full of local examples.

Learning seven or so words from the language of the country you are researching is more than helpful. You don’t have to be timid about researching records form other countries. You can do this!

Classes in “Polish Research” includes looking at the Buffalo, NY, database collection for Polish research and learning some of the seven words needed to look for your ancestors. A class in “German Beginners and Intermediate Research,” “Canadian Research,” and “Breaking the Old World Immigrant Ancestor’s Origins” are helpful. The Daughters of the American Revolution genealogical records and archives class shows you how to use their database. Connecting through DNA and DNA Testing for Genealogy offers specifics on what information can be obtained. Take a class in cemetery research and why it is a good idea to talk to the living at the cemetery office. There is more to know than what you may see on top of the dirt at the gravesite.

You will have a chance to tour the Family History Center and take a class in “Exploring Church Records.” Smile pleasantly at some pastors, and have a dust cloth at the ready. Genealogists do not judge. The “Importance of the Census for Essential and Foundational Information” is a class in which you will learn lots of clues that lead to other information. Look for your ancestors in the newspapers in a class called “Above the Fold.” It’s also a class to remind you how to be a good ancestor and leave clues for your descendants, to include what and why you have a codicil.

“How Family Search Got Started and Why” will give some insight into the vastness of genealogy as well as “Family Search Explained,” which will open a whole new world of the hobby. “Family Search for Youth” helps inspire a younger generation of future genealogists. The “Military Records” class offers information about our veterans. If you saw my article about the numbers and continuous wars the U.S. has been involved with since our own revolution, you will realize that most of our ancestors were veterans. Explore pensions, service records, land grants, and the wonders that the National Archives has to offer.

The “Scan Photos and Slides” class offers learning on how to scan pictures and save them on M-Disc CDs. Did you know that photos saved on a CD can last up to 1,000 years? You are reminded to bring some photos (you may need to bring a CD; ask first to make sure).

“Information Security for the Genealogist” offers current tree keeping options and the best way to preserve hard-earned research in the long term. I know Halloween is approaching and we don’t want to scare off the beginner genealogists, but there is a class addressing the “Top 10 Brick Wall Solutions That Genealogists Encounter.” It is open to the beginners who are not faint of heart.

A reminder to all genealogists of the many hours of volunteer time that genealogists invested in hand typing information into the early days of computers. Today it is called indexing. You may be interested in the class called “Family Search Indexing.” Thousands of volunteers are needed. Join the volunteers whom we salute, who are making our genealogical research possible from the comfort of soft chairs and laptop computers.

The hobby of genealogy is a very diverse and active hobby. We get to explore new ideas, attend classes, and learn new things. We go to destination locations, attend events, and meet new people. We challenge our people skills meeting friendly or sometimes not friendly, overworked staff when we are seeking documents and information.

We practice quiet in a new library, when we really want to shout from the rooftops that we found the ancestor we had been looking for all of these years. We learn new languages. We practice the Zen art of patience, and the excitement of serendipity.

We learn the best bug protection, sun protection, how to get grass stains out of clothing, the need for hydration, and the need to carry extra napkins in the car. We become experts at the idea of bringing everything you might need for any situation, whatever that need might be. We have special clothing for our hobby, either soft, snuggly lounge clothing and sweatpants or sturdy hiking boots and all-weather gear.

We manage our fear of the known and the unknown. What we get to do is realize that there are lots and lots of people who do genealogy and they are all friendly. Get out and meet some of them. Share your stories, successes, and walls. Enjoy your hobby to the fullest!

Bio: I am a Certified Genealogist and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. I believe that the hobby of genealogy is fun, exciting, and very satisfying. Through researching genealogy, you acquire new skills, meet new friends, and gain new respect for those who have gone before you. You may reach me via email at ‘’ with questions or comments. I thoroughly enjoy the hobby and hope that you will too. Print your photographs of family, don’t just leave them in cyberspace. If you insist on leaving your family pictures in cyberspace, label them and mail them to your email or other locations. Label your photos with a first and last name, an approximate date, and a possible location if known. Please look for a new book from this author to be released soon. My readers will have a special opportunity to read it.


By Marjory Regan

A brief bio of Marjory Regan: I am a member of the Williams Mills Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) and a “Certified Genealogist’ Thank you for your questions, comments, problems and successes. Email me at I think genealogy is a fascinating hobby; I hope you will, too. Get Started. Do something small every day, it all add up. Label the photos! First & Last names and approximate date of the photo. Do it for an hour while watching TV.