OCTOBER: A MONTH for stories and events that evoke fear, excitement and awe. And, no, I am not talking about Halloween. It’s Family History Month! I am not trying to trick you; tracing your lineage can actually be quite a treat. Why not start with some of the legends your families have passed from one generation to the next? Did my great grandmother really perform in the Yiddish Theater? Am I really related to Helen Keller?
Who says genealogy is only something you can do once you’re retired? It’s not! Just like a pillowcase full of candy, there’s something in it for everyone. Now is the time to learn all you can, especially from the eldest members of your family. And what better way to do that than in celebration of Family History Month?
If you’re not ready to jump into genealogy, then the LA Archives Bazaar is the place for you. Even though it’s located in the USC Doheny Memorial Library, it is worth the trek from Orange County. Here you’ll find plenty of archives, family and local history institutions from all over Southern California gathered in one place. There are even a few Jewish organizations tabling at the Bazaar. Go visit and discover the treasures within your own community on October 20. (laassubject.org/archives-bazaar).
The Pew Research Center found that Millennials use public libraries more than any other demographic. It’s no wonder since libraries seem to have it all these days, from coffee shops to free wifi! You know what else most libraries have, including the Orange County Public Libraries? A subscription to Ancestry.com, free with a library card!
In addition to online resources, libraries also have collections specializing in family and local history. For example, the Huntington Beach Central Library houses a genealogy collection maintained by the Orange County Genealogical Society (OCGS).
The Groups & Classes
Genealogical societies typically offer free classes, especially for novices. OCGS has a beginner’s genealogy class every month; the next is on October 8 (occgs.com). The Orange County Jewish Genealogical Society (OCJGS) will also offer a free introductory genealogy class to be held at the JCC. No matter your age, it’s never too late or too early to start! Not to mention, the OCJGS’s library has a robust collection of Jewish genealogy books, including from the Avotaynu Publishing House, and you won’t find such a collection anywhere else in the OC.
For those looking for more than just beginner’s classes, join the Genealogical Society of North Orange County California at one of its three events this month, from genealogy as detective work to the perils of online family trees (www.gsnocc.org/monthly-meetings).
Now that I have given you a new activity that is as addictive as candy, you’re sure to want more! The Orange County FamilySearch Library is holding a free Family History Expo on October 20. If you want to interview your family members, sign up for the session on oral history (http://www.ocfamilyhistory.org).
By the time May 2019 comes around, you’ll be ready for the largest genealogy conference in California: the Jamboree. Join the Southern California Genealogical Society in its 50th celebration that is worth the drive to Burbank. There is even a free day that you can attend, which provides classes on genealogy basics.
Before you get ready for the tricking and treating, use this guide to get a tracing!
Dvorah Lewis is a contributing writer for Jlife magazine.