Doris Housel uses her 35 years of experience in genealogy work to help guide the attendees on proper genealogy researching techniques in Portola on July 11. Photo by David Nickerson

Help mapping ancestry in Portola

Doris Housel kicked off her fourth annual genealogy lecture series at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Portola on July 11 with the goal of helping community members map their familial ancestry.

“The purpose of our class is to [help attendees] get a foothold on genealogy research and how to connect with the right people,” Housel said.

The series is expected to last seven to eight weeks depending on turnout and is open to the public.

The first meeting last week was modestly attended, though more people are expected to attend as the series progresses.

Housel said that the program has been helping people from Chilcoot to Cromberg trace their family lineage back generations by guiding them through the myriad of genealogy websites and databases available to the public.

The small library at the back of the LDS Church contains a host of books and online resources available for attendees to take advantage of, including old county maps and computers with access to ancestry.com free of charge.

Generally speaking, Housel said that people should start mapping their ancestry by writing down all the relatives they know of by name.

From there, she suggested that people ask their family members for more names and information before making the dive into online databases.

If you feel like you’ve hit a wall in your ancestry and can’t go back any further, Housel suggests being creative and looking for written records that might help inform your search.

“There are some times where you have to visit a site, a county seat, a state,” she explained.

Even though sifting through old records and databases to find previously unknown ancestors can be a tedious venture, Housel argues that it is well worth the challenge because it helps people understand their own personal histories and identities.

“You can get a better idea of who you are, where you get certain traits from,” she said.

Though the classes are open to all, they are in part intended to help connect members of the LDS church with family members who do not know of their connection to the faith.   

“We use it to find our family, our collective [LDS] family,” she said.

The classes are open to people of all faiths and are sure to be valuable for those who wish to unearth the buried roots of their ancestral past.