Thursday, July 10, 2014

A new year brings time for more family searches Tom Mooney Out on a Limb

February 20. 2013 1:56AM
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SO, YOU say, you didn't accomplish all your genealogical goals for 2012? Well, that's normal in our favorite pastime.

But, take heart. A new year has arrived, and with it comes the opportunity for major progress in finding those elusive ancestors in America or abroad. Welcome 2013 with renewed determination and dedication. Here are some suggestions.

If you're a genealogical newbie your first task should be to scour your Times Leader's listings of upcoming events for programs to help people get started researching their family histories. From time to time you'll find local libraries and other places scheduling classes in genealogy for beginners. I expect to offer one this year. Keep on the lookout.

I've said this a hundred times or more: if your hobby is needlework or model railroading, don't you subscribe to a magazine on your hobby and then join a local club full of your fellow enthusiasts? A few paragraphs below is the phone number for the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society. Join up. Then head to Barnes & Noble and pick up a copy of Family Tree Magazine, the bi-monthly bible' for genealogists, full of articles that will help you get past your roadblocks.

Dissatisfied with your progress so far? Don't despair; make a better plan. Let's say you're trying unsuccessfully to get information from a church in a faraway American city. Go to the website for the region's public library system. Find out what facilities they offer – city directories, newspaper microfilms or research aid. Or maybe you face the daunting problem of research abroad. Visit the bookstore or go online and discover books on researching in various foreign countries. Then get to work.

Attend genealogy events like the one described below. Even if you pick up a single good idea or talk with one genealogist, that's valuable progress.

Finally, realize that genealogy is gradual and that answers don't drop out of the sky. Schedule some blocks of time every week for your research. Maybe all you pick up at first is a phone number. Then days later you find out where lot cards for an old cemetery are kept. A week later, online, you discover a book on researching your ethnic group abroad. In time, everything will add up. That's how genealogists make progress.

Have a productive new year.

News Notes: Get your local research done over the next few weeks, because the Luzerne County Historical Society library will close for February, as is its custom. The library will shut down Feb. 5, reopening March 5. Meanwhile, the society is working on the heating problem that temporarily shuttered the nearby museum building. For the time being, the museum is open Tuesday through Friday, noon to 2 p.m. and Saturday, noon to 4 p.m.

A tip of the hat goes to retired teacher John Quinn and retired railroader Patrick Conway for visiting area high schools to make presentations on the area's coal mining and railroad history. Once Northeastern Pennsylvania's two top employers, those two industries are rapidly fading into the mists of time.

Keep April 20 open, as that's the date for the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society's major event of the year, the annual Family History Seminar. Held at Luzerne County Community College, Nanticoke, it attracts hundreds of people for the daylong series of talks and workshops by genealogy experts. The program will be announced soon. To register, call (570) 829-1765.

Don't forget to keep up with the society's new Facebook page. Access it at

Tom Mooney is a Times Leader genealogy columnist. Reach him at

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