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Those looking for ancestors find answers at workshop.

Byline: MARK BAKER The Register-Guard

Genealogy, Thomas Ogden has been told, has become America's second-favorite pastime.

So what's No. 1 - baseball?

"I don't know what the first one is, probably sex," says the 73-year-old Ogden, program coordinator for the Eugene Family History Center in west Eugene, part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Beware, searching for long-lost ancestors can become habit-forming, says Joan Bingham, 70, of Eugene, who moved with her family from England to America in 1949. "It's absolutely addictive, but it's a good, clean addiction," she says.

Bingham came to the church on West 18th Avenue on Saturday with her daughter, Michele Campbell, trying to find more tricks for digging up her British ancestry. Along with them came about 375 other folks who chose from about 30 free classes at the church during a Family History Conference genealogy workshop.

There were classes on Scottish, Scandinavian, Italian, German and American Indian ancestry. There were classes on how to use the Internet, how to look up census records and writing a personal history.

"We hope to make this an annual event," Ogden says. "Genealogy is an important part of the LDS faith. But four out of five people who use (the church's Family History Center) are not of the Mormon faith, so it's an important community resource."

The Family History Center, located in a small building next to the church, has been in Eugene in some form for more than a half-century, says Carolyn Wardell, the center's director. It contains copies of hundreds of microfilm and microfiche records ordered by searchers from the more than 2 million records at the Mormon Church's main library in Salt Lake City. The center also maintains several computers, where searchers can explore Web sites to help them track family histories.

The Internet has spurred greater interest in genealogy in recent years, keeping Ogden and other volunteers busy.

"There's nothing more thrilling than to find that one of your ancestors was hung or burned in Salem, or was a pirate," Ogden says. "Most people who are looking have notorious ancestors."

For Bingham and her daughter, however, the search is about family.

"Members in our church believe that families can be together forever," Bingham says. "And we have an interest in knowing who our families are because we want to be together forever. We'll meet them some place (in the hereafter). They are part of who we are."

For Walt Dolliver, 65, of Eugene, coming to Saturday's conference was all about learning to catalog his family history. Through relatives, he has traced his roots back about five generations, to the California gold rush era. But now, Dolliver wants to trace both sides of his family, from his father's Welsh and German ancestry to his mother's British and Scottish ancestry, back to about the year 1600.

"I want to put this all down for my children because I know they won't be interested for a while," Dolliver says.

Searching for ancestors can bring your present family closer, says Bob Wilson, a member of the church. And hopefully, it will benefit your family, and beyond, for years to come, he says.

"I think our society would be a lot better if our kids knew where they came from," he said.


Write down what you already know about your family. The Eugene Family History Center at 3500 W. 18th Ave. can help you get started on your family history. With a "pedigree work sheet," you begin by filling in information about your parents, your grandparents and your great-grandparents. Call the center at 343-3741 for more information.

Decide what missing information you want to learn about your family. You might know the names of your great-grandparents, but not when or where they were born. Finding this information can help in digging up previous generations.

Find out what research has already been done. Talk to relatives or family friends and record any useful information or stories. Use the Family History Library Catalog, which describes records from around the world that are at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. This library is the single largest source of genealogical records in the world. You can order a film copy of most of the library's records through the Eugene Family History Center, one of about 3,700 such centers in the world.

Search other records to locate missing information. Three of the most helpful sources of original records are vital records, church records and census records. And the Internet has thousands of genealogy sites. Go to and type in "genealogy."

Evaluate and share your information. Call or write to family members and share what you have found. Make copies of family charts, photos and stories. Once your family records are organized, you are ready to start over, writing down what you now know about your family, continuing to find more information and extending your family line further.

- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


Carolyn Wardell offers tips at the conference on Saturday.
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Title Annotation:Family
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 29, 2002
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