Out On a Limb: FamilySearch webinars can help genealogists – Wilkes Barre Times-Leader

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Tom Mooney

Out on a Limb

I’m a believer in educating yourself about genealogy. The more you learn from the experts, the more progress you will make and the more accurate will be your results.

That’s why I’m happy to bring to you today information on some promising upcoming events – free or modestly priced and easy to connect with.

First, let’s look at the free webinars offered by FamilySearch, the massive free online data base operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I have adjusted the Mountain zone times to our Eastern zone.

Not what you’re interested in? No problem.! FamilySearch is constantly offering more.

Tuesday, Feb. 18, 9:30 a.m. Germans from Russia: Finding Records for Volga Germans (intermediate level).

Monday, Feb. 24, 5 p.m. Ten Steps to Reclaiming Your African Roots.

Friday, Feb. 28, 12:30 p.m. Germans from Russia: Locating Church Records.

Go to www.familysearch.org for details.

“If you cannot attend a live event, most sessions are recorded and can be viewed later online at your convenience at Family History Library classes and webinars,” the organization says. You will also find lists of previous webinars that may be viewed.

There’s more. Mark your calendars for what is likely the premiere genealogy event of the year locally – a daylong cooperative effort by three downtown Wilkes-Barre institutions with huge collections of value to genealogists. They are the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, the Osterhout Free Library and the Luzerne County Historical Society.

Entitled “Discover Your NEPA Roots,” the event will involve visiting all three repositories and being guided through their collections. It will run 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 18, a Saturday.

“The event will feature family history research tips and a chance to see the genealogical resources held by each of the participating institutions,” the genealogical society announced. “The cost is $10 per person including lunch and proceeds benefit the three participating libraries.”

Call 570-823-0156 to register. Deadline is March 27.

DNA Tests: Are Americans growing disenchanted with DNA testing? Two major companies – Ancestry and 23 and Me – have reported significant declines in sales for their DNA testing kits over the past year.

How has this happened? Privacy advocates are concerned that a person’s DNA can be used in improper ways. The military has urged members not to use the tests, fearing they might be opened to outside threats.

One possible cause, though, could be simple lack of public understanding of what the tests are for. People buy them and then expect too much of them.

We genealogists, on the other hand, are aware that the tests are helps, not substitutes for genealogical research. Even the cousins you find can tell you only so much. You still have to go out and do the documentary study yourself. Seeing the story your DNA tells can help guide, confirm and question your research. But it’s not a substitute for that research.

We’ve probably been spoiled by the TV shows in which celebrities are given massive family trees that seem to appear out of nowhere. Actually, the trees have been prepared by professional genealogists working long and hard – doing the work that we have to do for ourselves.

Best advice is to get the test. Then see how it matches up to your research findings. If one or the other seems out of kilter, you need to do some more work. It can also give you valuable leads. Remember, the DNA can be showing you ancient times – many centuries before the point your research has reached.

Tom Mooney is a Times Leader genealogy columnist. Reach him at [email protected]