Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Genealogical Forum of Oregon Special Interest Groups

Today the Genealogical Forum of Oregon was a beehive of activity. A wide variety of genealogical researchers were present the entire time, from 10 am to 3 pm. For the first two hours the Virginia Interest Group held the attention of the fifteen attendees. Two, Dawn and Linda, made the two hour drive from Eugene to attend. Judi Scott presented information on Revolutionary War ancestors and locating their military and land records. It was my first time attending this group and even though I do not have Virginia ancestors, many people that I work for do.

For the next three hours my work kept me out front, where many others were working on computers and utilizing the books in the GFO collection. From 1 pm to 3 pm the German Interest Group met, and Tom O'Brien presented the discussion about finding current day contacts in Germany. Having attended his presentation in another venue and with the need to complete the task before me, I was not able to attend. From the front we could hear the lively participation of the attendees.

The other special interest groups include: British, Computer, DNA, Family Tree Maker, Genealogy Book Group (new), Illinois, Irish, and Writer's Forum. Each group has a coordinator who provides updates for the meetings and is a contact for the participants. Many do not meet over the summer; meet every other month or quarterly. The GFO calendar found on the website at provides the current schedules, as does the Insider newsletter.

The camaraderie within the groups is contagious. They assist each other in research problems and take turns presenting topics of discussion pertinent to the group. There was a scrapbooking group but it is currently taking a break. The amount of current groups is a good fit for the GFO. If someone has an interest in starting a new group this is encouraged. The new Genealogy Book Group provides an opportunity to read nonfiction books where authors explore their personal identity through the history of their family and connections to the past.

So, if you have some free time on a Saturday or Sunday take the opportunity to advance your knowledge by attending a special interest group. Most Genealogical Societies have some types of groups similar to these. Whether it is beginner groups or more advanced, there is surely something of interest for almost everyone. Encourage friends and family who are not members to attend and you just might spark an interest in genealogy within them. The GFO groups are open to the public and free to attend. Usually they have an email list or online presence, so get connected and stay informed about these great educational opportunities.

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