PICO RIVER, Calif.,—Next month, the Armenian Genealogy Conference will be coming to California for the first time ever. Those interested in attending might want to know a bit about what past conferences have been like. The West Coast conference will take place from November 16 to 17.
The first Armenian genealogy conference in the U.S. took place in Watertown, MA in 2016. It was followed by a second conference in Dearborn, MI (2017), the third in Mahwah, NJ (2018), and the fourth in Milwaukee, WI (2018). Altogether, more than 600 people have attended these events, often flying in from all across the country and even from Canada and the United Kingdom.
One of the highlights of these conferences has been that they have given people with family roots in the same towns and villages – Gesaria, Sepasdia, Kharpert, Bitlis, Dikranagerd, and others – a chance to meet and share their family stories. There have been opportunities to network both during the dinner preceding the conference and on event day itself.
Another highlight has been the DNA testing workshops. People often use these tests to find out about their ethnic background. But, more accurate and more fruitful for Armenians is the possibility of locating distant relatives in the U.S. and in other parts of the world, including Turkey.
A third highlight has been finding out about the numerous resources – many of them accessible online – that are available for genealogical research. Though many assume that no such records exist, information about hundreds of thousands of Armenians born before 1915 is available. Much of it requires time and patience to use, however. The conference workshops explain what is available and how to use it.
The Armenian genocide and waves of refugee migration that followed it destroyed families and their stories. But some of this damage can be repaired. This is one of the principle goals of the Armenian Genealogy Conference.
This year, for the first time ever, the conference will take place on the West Coast. There will be a dinner in Pico Rivera, near Los Angeles, on Friday evening. A full-day conference will take place in Pico Rivera on Saturday at Armenian Mesrobian, and a half-day conference at Fresno’s Armenian Community Center on Sunday. It is organized by the Western Armenia Committee, and cosponsored by the Armenian Mesrobian School, the ARF gomidehs of Montebello and Fresno, Hamazkayin, Houshamadyan, NAASR, and Project SAVE. If you are interested in attending, you must register in advance for the dinner and full-day conference. There is no need to register for the half-day version in Fresno. For more information, are available on the conference website. We look forward to seeing you there!
The Western Armenia Committee is dedicated to the reestablishment of Armenians’ connection with their ancestral homeland through cultural, educational, and observational opportunities.