Genealogical society programs help with family research
By Jessica Creagan
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- If learning about your ancestors sounds appealing, but you don't know where to start, the Indian River Genealogical Society has a program for you.
An expert in Irish ancestry genealogy, Donna Moughty, is scheduled to speak on Jan. 14 at the Indian River County main library in Vero Beach.
The program, which begins at 9:30 a.m., is titled, "Getting the Most Out of Ancestry.com," a popular online subscription family research site. The main library has the site available for library card members to use for free onsite, said Suzy Bromwell, exiting publicity chairwoman for the genealogical society.
"Donna Moughty is an expert and with her contacts and expertise, she can help people break down 'brick walls' in their research," Ms. Bromwell said.
Ms. Moughty is a former regional manager for Apple and has been conducting family research for more than 20 years and gives lectures on a variety of subjects, including her specialty, Irish ancestry.
"Irish family is tough because churches, sometimes the greatest resource for family history, were burned to the ground, and so it can be a little difficult to trace people," Ms. Bromwell said.
Learning about family can be a great adventure and an extremely interesting hobby, Ms. Bromwell said.
The best place to start, outside of using resources such as Ancestry.com, which has a large collection of databases on people, is by talking to older family members, grandparents, elderly aunts and so on, Ms. Bromwell said.
"It's amazing the things you can find out if you just ask," she said.
To help people get started in their journey to the past, the Indian River Genealogical Society is offering a two-session series of free classes on genealogy for beginners.
The classes will be held in the history room on the second floor of the main library from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 17 and Jan. 24.
"The classes are basic, starting from the very beginning. We give people a family tree worksheet and we tell them to start with themselves and put down as much information as they can," Ms. Bromwell said.
Participants will learn about all the resources available at the main library for genealogical searches, she said.
Pamela Cooper, the head of the genealogy department, has been the leader of the department for about 20 years, and has grown the department from about 350 books to more than 20,000 books, documents database resources, making Vero Beach a destination for genealogy buffs around the state, Ms. Bromwell said.
"I know people that come from Lakeland to use our department, when they could go to Tampa or to Lakeland," Ms. Bromwell said.
In February, the local society is teaming up with the Brevard Genalogical Society, the Genealogical Society of South Brevard and the Treasure Coast Genealogical Society for a special ticketed lecture.
John Colletta, of Washington, D.C., one of American's most popular, entertaining, knowledgeable and experienced genealogical lecturers will come to the Richardson Center on the Indian River State College's Mueller Campus in Vero Beach, for the 2014 Valentine Genealogy Seminar on Feb. 8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., a press release said.
Mr. Colletta started working part-time at the Library of Congress and taught workshops in the National Archives. He lectures nationally, teaches and conducts programs for the Smithsonian Institution.
He is a faculty member of the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy and Boston University's certificate in family history program, in addition to publishing articles and appearing on local and national radio, a press release said.
A registration fee of $35 will reserve a spot as an attendee. Seating is limited to 140 and the annual seminar sells out quickly, Ms. Bromwell said.
For more information about the Indian River County Genealogical Society, visit www.irgs.org.