Monday, August 8, 2011

Local Family History and Genealogy Learning Opportunities

Last Saturday I attended the Tualatin, Oregon Family History and Genealogy Fair focused on "Do You Know Who You Really Are?."  The featured speaker was Anastasia Sutherland Harmon. In her keynote address she discussed, "The Real Story of You." She also presented two classes on "Getting Started on" and "Family History & DNA 101." For syllabus material on all conference classes see the website at

Anastasia is the lead historian for and she is involved in preparing for the television show "Who Do You Think Your Are?" She also conducts interviews of people around the world. What a fun job for a young person to have. She is energetic and enthusiastic about family history research. Anastasia graduated from BYU in 2001 with a degree in English, and started out as a writer, publisher and editor. She reminds me of several other young genealogy professionals who are helping to pave the way of genealogy research in the future.

Her husband Tyler Harmon presented a class on "Digitizing Your Records," but unfortunately I was teaching during that hour. In his biography he shared that Anastasia and he met while scanning documents at a genealogy conference for Tyler is Business Operations Manager for the Document Preservation Services department at

The other speakers were more local people like me.
Wood Shipp did a class on "Getting Started with New Family Search." He worked as a missionary supporting New FamilySearch providing world-wide support via both email and telephone.

Barbara Havorka and her husband Hal work as Area Family History Advisors for the North America Northwest Area in the Portland Temple District. She taught three classes: "Getting Started, Clues Through Surnames, Personal Inventory," "A History Lesson - What is the motivation for the Immigrant," and "Finding the Immigrant - Where are those Elusive Records?."

Cindy Webb participates in the FamilySearch Indexing program and she works at the Portland Oregon Temple helping patrons on a daily basis. She spoke on "Digging Into The Archives" a general overview with highlights on archival research, and "Clues for Finding Females" on finding our female maiden surnames.

Keith Pyeatt a local family history consultant, is working on his AG, Accredited Genealogist (ICAPGen). He taught the class, "Census Records as a Research Tool" and offered some very useful syllabus materials.

Susan LeBlanc AG, is a 2010 Accredited Genealogist (ICAPGen) and a 2005 graduate of BYU with a BGS/BA degree in Family History. Her classes were "Research Strategies - Tracking Your Families" and Ten Steps to Cemetery Research."

This is the second year for this conference. Last year their featured speakers were Geoff Rasmussen professional genealogist of Legacy Family Tree, and Bruce Buzbee founder & president of RootsMagic. Local presenters were Kenneth Stevens of Sherwood, OR,  Tualatin Oregon Stake Family History Center Director and Susan LeBlanc of Gladstone, OR., family history consultant and family history center volunteer.

As you can see, there were a wide variety of classes. The hardest part is choosing which session to attend. For me it is hard as a presenter as I can only attend a few of the other classes. The local presenters can also be found presenting at the Portland Area PAF Users Group that meets in Lake Oswego every third Saturday. Their list of classes and syllabus materials are available at:

Earlier this year the Beaverton, OR Stake had a conference entitled, "Climbing Your Family Tree." Their materials are available at:

In November the Milwaukie, OR Stake will have a conference on Saturday the 5th. The calendar section of this blog has additional information for it. Registration online is forthcoming.

The Genealogical Forum of Oregon will reopen in its new facility September 10th and they are hosting a month of free events. They also host semi-annual seminars with featured nationally known speakers. For more information on both check their website at:

There are many other opportunities for learning locally in the Portland metropolitan area, as there are in localities close to where you live. Investigate and take advantage of the wealth of knowledge they provide at a very reasonable cost, often for free.

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