Family Tree 101: Free On Zoom For 2022

By Dagmar Fors Karppi

If you have ever thought about researching your family history, but haven’t as yet, here’s your chance to do so with a free online course: “Your Family Tree: Helpful Hints to Trace Your Family History.”

The series is the idea of Glen Cove Public Library archivist and reference librarian Lydia Wen Rodgers. The Glen Cove library began its own Genealogy Club (limited to five members) on Jan. 24. Its success gave her the idea of joining with other local libraries to share the cost of a monthly Zoom series now through December. Each library is responsible for two episodes.

The first meeting was held on Feb. 19. Residents can sign in at participating local libraries including Bayville, Glen Cove, Gold Coast, Locust Valley and Oyster Bay-East Norwich. Subsequent meetings are on Tuesdays at 7 p.m.

Oyster Bay-East Norwich Library program Director Marion Dodson said they have six computers for patrons to use. “A lot of people use them for genealogy research, and when COVID-19 restrictions happened, people were disappointed. We offered them home access through 2019, but now it is only available at the library. No appointments are necessary.” Dodson added, “I sent away for my DNA results. There were no surprises.”

Locust Valley Program Director Michael Vinas said they were asked to join the group, sharing their financial resources. He said, “We thought it was a great outreach into the community.”

Gold Coast Library Program Coordinator Clare Trollo said of the series, “It is a privilege and a fantastic idea for the libraries to coordinate on programs for the benefit of the libraries and the public.”

Bayville Library Program Coordinator Kristy Fumante said on Feb. 7, “We have a very nice number of people registered for the program: 58 as of now.”

She said she has not looked into her family history, but her grandfather did, using records from the Oyster Bay Historical Society. “We are actually descendants of the Wright family of Oyster Bay: they are one of the founding families.” They are also connected to the Townsends.

“A Townsend married into the family and that is how we got that connection. At her dowry, Rachael received a sum of Wampum, an axe head, a feather bed and a cow.”

[On a personal note: what was so exciting about being a substitute art teacher in the Oyster Bay-East Norwich schools. There, students’ last names included: Simcoe, Wright, Haxhurst, Hammond, Townsend, all names from the Colonial history of the hamlet. It made history come alive on local streets.]

The first speaker will be Grace Palmisano, training and digital resources specialist for the Nassau Library System. She has been researching her family tree for most of her life and has traced branches of her family back to the late 1600s (her six times great-grandparents). Palmisano is a descendant of persons living throughout Europe including Ireland, Hungary, Russia, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

Most of the libraries have similar genealogy research tools available for their patrons. Check your library’s website for Niche Academy that teaches how to use digital library resources. It offers Ancestry Library Edition, with coverage of the United States and the United Kingdom, including census, vital, church, court and immigration records, as well as record collections from Canada and other areas. It also has Fold3 by Ancestry, which gives access to U.S. Military records from the American Revolution onwards; as well as The New York Heritage digital collection.

For more information you can call your local library: they have the names of all speakers for the series.

This is the first in a 12-part history series, provided by former Oyster Bay Enterprise Pilot editor, Dagmar Fors Karppi.

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