The Evertons’ Genealogy Workshop 50 Years Ago Hooked Me

It was 50 years ago this week – 25 July 1965 to be specific – that George and Ellen (Nielsen) Everton conducted their genealogy workshop in the lower-level auditorium of the Ferguson Library in Stamford, Connecticut.

photo of George and Ellen (Nielsen) Everton

Photo: George and Ellen (Nielsen) Everton. Credit: FamilySearch.org – KWZM-YNM George Baugh Everton, Sr. Memories Page

They were road warriors who routinely conducted classes and day-long genealogical workshops, teaching the basics of genealogy across the country. Their firm – Everton Publishers was founded in 1947 –was active in publishing the long-running Genealogical Helper magazine, how-to books, charts, forms and other support materials for family historians.

The Evertons were terrific – funny, upbeat and personable – as they taught the basics of genealogy research. I had been working on my family history for several years, and this genealogy workshop was a game-changer for me.

I was working at the Ferguson Library then, where I was “apprenticed” to Grace Hope Walmsley (1885-1971), the long-serving genealogy reference librarian there.

article about librarian Grace Hope Walmsley retiring, Stamford Advocate newspaper article 28 February 1968

Stamford Advocate (Stamford, Connecticut), 28 February 1968, page 14

Up to that point I had kept my family tree and genealogy notes on the familiar yellow pads of paper, which I kept in a folder in my desk.

Miss Walmsley was a skilled genealogist and teacher. Working with her got me started in genealogy. The Ferguson Library’s Genealogy & Local History Room was always busy – and I learned from her about the books, documents and resources that were needed to document a family history.

Enter Last Name

During a break in the Everton’s genealogy workshop in 1965, they announced that they were giving away door prizes to the youngest and the oldest person attending the seminar.

As one of the hosts of the family history event, I was standing along the side of the auditorium. George Everton said: “The winner of the door prize for the youngest person in the room is easy – it’s him” – pointing in my direction.

I turned around to see whom he was pointing at – and realized he meant me! Ha.

I went up to the front and he gave me a 12-generation family tree chart – which I started filling out and have never looked back.
I was hooked.

I had been getting my genealogy skills from on-the-job training – but now the Evertons opened up more techniques, tools and a sense of what was possible. Their wonderful genealogy workshop was invaluable to me.

Take the time to be trained in genealogy.
There are online classes and webinars available 24/7 on the Internet.

Watch and learn at sites like:

Both of these sites have hundreds of live and taped classes on a wide range of topics – from Hungarian research to the core basics in Genealogy Boot Camp. Also, watch GenealogyBank’s genealogy tutorial webinars on Youtube and the Learning Center.

Check with your local genealogical society and see when their next meeting or event will be. Getting together with other genealogists is an easy way to learn new approaches and improve your research skills.

Related Resources:

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Allen County Library (IN) receives $10 Million Gift

The Genealogy Center of the Allen County Library (Ft. Wyane, IN) has received a $10 million gift from the Edward D. and Ione Auer Foundation. The funds will be given to the library as $1 million payments each year over 10 years. The announcement is in the Ft Wayne News Sentinnel 1 August 2008

This landmark library has been active in genealogy for decades.

The Center will host a Military Records Symposium
Friday & Saturday, September 26 & 27, 2008

Speaker: Marie Varrelman Melchiori, CG, CGL

Friday, September 26, 20083:00 PM “Using Records at the National Archives: A Researcher’s View”
This session will cover National Archive records, some that have been microfilmed or digitized, from a researcher’s point of view. The session will explain how and why the records are arranged the way they are. Ms. Melchiori will also discuss “archijive,” the short-cut phrases used by archivists that genealogists need to know in order to understand what they are being told.

6:30 PM Dinner, speaker Curt Witcher, Genealogy Center Manger, “Our Military Heritage Website: Record, Recall, & Revere”

Saturday, September 27, 2008
9:30 AM “If Grandpa Wore Blue: Union Records in the National Archives”This session will be a look at commonly used records as well as some of the lesserused records for researching an ancestor who was a Union soldier. Some of the records covered will include correspondence, carded medical files, and the investigative records of Baker and Turner.

11:00 AM “If Grandpa Wore Gray: Confederate Records in the National Archives”
This session will be a look at Confederate records, both microfilmed and original, at the National Archives. Records created by the Union Army may help locate information on your Southern soldier as well as male and female civilians.

1 – 6 PM: Individual consultationsGenealogy Center staff and other researchers will be available to assist one with specific research challenges, and recommend sources and methodologies to find more records and data.

Click here to register for this important conference.

It’s a great day for genealogy!

It’s a great day for genealogy! And, it’s a particularly good day for me too!

Today marks exactly 43 years since I started working in genealogy.
Wow, it’s been fun.

It was 26 July 1965 – in Stamford, CT – George B. Everton, Sr. (1904-1996) and his wife Ellen (Nielsen) Everton (1902-1987) were conducting a genealogy workshop at the Ferguson Library. I worked at the “Ferguson” and was listening to their presentation from the hall – standing in the doorway – when he announced that they were going to give out a few door prizes – “to the youngest and oldest person” attending the lecture.

He said, “the youngest person is easy …. it’s him” – pointing to me. I was shocked – but was pleased to receive a 10-generation family tree chart. And, as they say – the rest was history.

When I started to fill in that chart the family knew a few generations – now we have records on over 70,000 ancestors and cousins in the family computer and I now have “cousins” from all parts of the world.

It has been fun. Over the past 43 years I have taught workshops and given presentations in 37 States & was a keynote speaker at the first genealogy conference in China. I have written over 20 books and many, many articles that were published in national, state and local – genealogy, library and archival journals.

And the capstone has been the opportunity to be the “Father” of GenealogyBank – and to watch it grow into an essential core genealogy online service – with over 3,500 newspapers you just won’t find anywhere else – easy access to more than 1 billion of our ancestors & cousins.

It’s a great day for genealogy and a great day for me too!