It Was a Great Day for Genealogy in Stockton!

The free genealogy seminar held on Saturday, February 22, presented by the San Joaquin Genealogical Society (SJGS) and cosponsored by the California State Genealogical Alliance (CSGA) and University of the Pacific’s Jacoby Center for Public Service and Civic Leadership, was a roaring success.  Well before the event, SJGS president and event organizer Sheri Fenley proudly announced that the seminar was completely filled — all 180 registration slots had been taken.

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On a gorgeous February morning, everyone gathered in the Biological Sciences Building on the University of the Pacific campus.  The lecture hall was totally filled with excited genealogists.  We actually started early (!) and managed to stay on time throughout the day.


Linda Serna, vice president of the Orange County Genealogical Society, talked about how to create family stories by starting with the facts you have and adding background historical information for context.  She particularly emphasized that Google is your friend and can help you find lots of great details to add to your stories.

Letty Rodella, president of the Society of Hispanic Historical and Ancestral Research, gave a lot of practical advice on how to research Mexican ancestry.  She discussed several online resources, including,, and a free guide to transcribing Spanish-language records (I downloaded it to my computer the next day!).

Tim Cox, program and events chairman for the California Genealogical Society, shared a lot of tools that can help genealogists do their research smarter, more easily, and sometimes just better.  He covered databases, software, gadgets, computer equipement, and even the Internet.  And he was even generous enough to send everyone registered for the seminar a PDF listing all of the resources he talked about in his presentation!


I was the last speaker of the day.  I used some research I had done as a case study and showed how even when you start with only a few pieces of information, if you work methodically and use a large variety of resources it is possible to learn a lot of information about a family and build a tree of several generations.


Throughout the day attendees asked a lot of great questions and were very engaged.  All the talks were well received.  And there were freebies!  The National Institute of Genealogical Studies (NIGS) had sent certificates for every attendee to register for one complimentary online class.  Then we had prize drawings after Tim’s talk.  NIGS had also donated two special gift certificates, and Tim had prizes from Clooz and Snagit.  So seven people were especially lucky and went home with a little something extra.

Many well earned thanks to Sheri Fenley, SJGS, UoP, and CSGA for a fun day spent learning about genealogy!

(Photos courtesy of Catherine Luijt.  This post originally appeared on the Ancestral Discoveries blog at

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