Saturday, March 10, 2007

SDGS Meeting today - Gene Cheney

The San Diego Genealogical Society meeting was today. The programs are usually longer than the one hour presentations you get at most societies. SDGS has structured their day so that, after a brief introduction, the speaker does about 45 minutes of program; then there is a 15 minute break for a snack and drink; then about 10 minutes of society news from the President (Peter Steelquist) and a raffle (usually more than one book or CD - there were two books and two software programs today); finally, the speaker goes for another 45 to 60 minutes.

This schedule facilitates longer programs on one topic, or two separate programs by the same speaker, or by two different speakers.

Gene Cheney from Hemet in Riverside County (about 80 miles north) was the program speaker today - his topics were "Netherlands Research" and "New England Research."

I missed the first half of the Netherlands talk, but the part I heard was excellent. He summarized the availability of records in the Netherlands - they are the most complete genealogical records in Europe. The church records (late 1500-s to 1810) and civil registration records (after 1810) are fairly complete, and the LDS Family History Library has all of them (into the 1900's) on microfilm or microfiche. Gene also mentioned the naming patterns for Dutch children. He then showed some of the online resources - web sites like and . A good list of Dutch web sites can be found at
and the LDS Research Guide for the Netherlands is at

The second presentation was on New England Research, which is an awfully large topic. Gene showed maps of the different states, their counties and townships, and discussed migration routes and settlement patterns. He noted that there are town records for almost all of the towns back to the founding of the colonies. The state Vital Records start in the 1800's, and are available at state libraries or the LDS FHLibrary microfilms. Gene showed a number of resource books for each state, most of which will be on the shelf at a decent genealogy library. The only one that I wasn't familiar with was the Ricker compilation of CT vital and other records, which is fairly recent.

Gene told a number of stories about his ancestors, especially in New England. These help "humanize" the records search. His speaking style is folksy and extemporaneous, and it is effective because he has a wealth of experience and knowledge to draw from. He is the Director of the Hemet FHC, a professional genealogist, a teacher of genealogy at Mt. San Jacinto College, and Southern California Family History Advisor for the LDS Church.

This was a great meeting - I wish I had been there at the beginning.

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