Gwen Blough, Phyl Schaff, and Marilyn Waite
Published April 29, 2012
April of 2012 marks the one-year anniversary of the Redmond Ridge Genealogy Club. Last year, Trilogy member Marilyn Waite initiated a search for others interested in sharing her passion for genealogy. She arranged a meeting for April 1, 2011 and was astonished at the response. The room was filled with beginning and advanced genealogists ready to learn and to teach.
The first year of our club can best be described as Genealogy 101. Since we had a variety of levels involved in our Genealogy Study Group, we invited the more knowledgeable members to share their way of doing their genealogical research with us. The emphasis has always been: start with yourself and work backwards. It is often enticing to start with our most interesting or most famous relative first, but most genealogists say, “start with what you know.” Gather your information in your house first and talk with and interview living relatives.
Trilogy members Betty Young and Pat Stevens taught us about Ancestry.com and the various programs that help organize your information after you have found it. Betty, a long time genealogist, also showed us her method of organizing data. She started before there were computer programs and transitioned to computer late in her research. We are lucky to have someone with Betty’s expertise in our group. She is very patient with our novice level. (She visited Salt Lake City every year until 2011 to do research. Carolyn and Dennis Buckmaster shared their experiences researching, writing, and publishing the life story of Carolyn’s great aunt, chronicling her adventures in “Healing, Romance and Revolution.” Trilogy member Don Garcia gave our most recent presentation on the topic “How DNA Can Help Our Research,” which was very interesting and informative.
We have also had speakers from the greater Redmond community who have entertained, inspired and informed us, including Susan Mitchell, DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) member and genealogy volunteer at the Redmond Senior Center, and Deborah Pierce, manager at the Center for Well-Being, who shared her experience creating a beautiful family history book for the celebration of her father’s 100th birthday.
“Aha” Moments and Special Member Projects
There have been many “aha” moments for our members over the course of the year. Two of our members had never before seen photos of their own fathers. Learning the tricks of navigating on Ancestry.com led them to find pictures of their fathers. This was quite an “aha” moment, as they had never expected to know what their fathers looked like.
Gwen Blough has been doing genealogical research for many years, but she has found that just learning one bit of information at a meeting often allows her to go that much further with her research – making the “aha” moments that much more frequent. Don Thompson had hit a brick wall with his family history studies until suddenly his research led him to find a cousin who sent him a treasure trove of information, cracking through his “Scandinavian mystery.”
Another thing we do within the Genealogy Club is encourage one another in our various projects. Through encouragement from her fellow members, Marilyn Waite was able to finish a book about her father’s life in time for the 100th Commemoration of his birthday, and she shared it last February at her family’s reunion in Southern California.
One of club member Gwen Blough’s hobbies is creating DVD videos that showcase family activities such as trips, holidays, birthdays, and years in review. When she was invited to a “Cousins Christmas Party” several years in a row, she decided to create a video featuring her paternal cousins as they grew up together. She searched through photo albums and scanned pictures of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and the houses they lived in as they were growing up. She used Roxio Easy Media Creator to put these scanned pictures into a slideshow format, then added captions, music, and movement. She burned DVD copies of the video as gifts for each of her cousins, and shared the video at her cousins’ annual Christmas dinner. Needless to say, the cousins loved the video, and they shared more stories from their past as they viewed it together. She also showed the video at a Genealogy Club meeting. The club members shared their enthusiasm about the project, and a few became inspired to create their own family videos. This is a great way to record, preserve, and share your family history
Genealogy has interested club member Marilyn Pitman Waite since her father died when she was six years old. She didn’t call it “genealogy” at the time, but soon after her father’s death she became a gatherer of family information. She now believes that this was probably an attempt to create the family that disintegrated at the time of his death. In the last 15 years, she has also been writing prose and poems. With encouragement from her fellow members in the Genealogy Club, she combined her passions for writing and family history and completed her dad’s story, which she called Dream to Reality. She self-published this book in time for her father’s 100th birth date commemoration celebration, which she organized this past February in Southern California.
Sharing and learning from others in our Genealogy Club continually encourages us to move toward leaving a written legacy for our children and grandchildren. A few members of the club decided to carve out time to write, share, and critique each other’s memoir writing. This group now meets after our Genealogy Meeting on the 4th Tuesday of the month.
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