Wednesday, June 1, 2016

North Tonawanda Library Genealogy Club Celebrates 5 years

Little did Jeanette Sheliga know back in 2011 that her idea for a Beginning Genealogy Series at the North Tonawanda Library would celebrating five years as a successful club. When she approached the library about doing an informational series on four consecutive Saturdays, she expected 10-15 people to show up. On May 14, 2011, she had 35-40 people in attendance, and they kept coming back each week. By week three, people were excited to continue beyond the initial month-long commitment. Thus, the North Tonawanda Library Genealogy Club (NTLGC) was born.

"I had people coming up to me after the meetings, telling me that we needed to keep going beyond the next week," Sheliga explained. She collected the emails of the interested parties and scheduled the first meeting as a club. They typically meet the first or second Saturday of the month at the library. "We are a club, not a society that collects dues, and we are open to the public. We're free."
NTLGC celebrates 5 years with a cake.

Sheliga continues: "We feel very supported by the North Tonawanda Library and are so grateful as they allow us to use their meeting room, have purchased books and DVDs that we have requested, and pay for subscriptions to genealogy websites that interest us: Heritage Quest, Ancestry Library Edition, and MyHeritage Library Edition.

"Over the last five years our group’s level of expertise on how to best research genealogy has grown. The many guest speakers we’ve had and the networking we’ve done has advanced everyone’s research techniques. So much so, that for the last few years in January we offer a hands-on beginner class where new genealogists partner up with a NTLGC member and that member can comfortably help them research the beginner’s family tree.

On a field trip to the Niagara County Historians Office
"Our group has taken many field trips together around WNY to learn more about the repositories that are available and what records they hold. Some of those places we traveled to are the Niagara County Genealogical Society’s Library, the Niagara County Historian’s Office , the Niagara County Clerk’s Office, the Grosvenor Room in the Buffalo Public Library, the Family History Center located at the Church of Latter Day Saints on Maple Rd. , and the Margaret L. Wendt Archive and Resource Center at Forest Lawn Cemetery. One of my favorite field trips we took was last summer when we rented a 15 passenger van and traveled around taking pictures at local cemeteries and supporting some of the local wineries along the way."

The club often attends programs put on by other local genealogical societies. They've visited the Western New York Genealogical Society, Buffalo Irish Genealogical Society, Polish Genealogical Society of New York State, and the Family History Center on Maple Road. A highlight of the club was visiting the Niagara County Genealogical Society when international speaker and author, Lisa Louise Cooke was the guest speaker.

NTLGC with guest speaker, Lisa Louise Cooke
According to Sheliga, the group has gotten to know one another very well, and feel comfortable calling each other to attend various functions and to exchange ideas. Other members sing the praises of the club:

"Great times together. Good fun, and a wonderful way to research your ancestor search," member Cindy Sileo stated. Niagara Falls historian, Elaine Timm added, "It's great being able to bounce questions and information off each other. We're always learning."

The NTLGC welcomes all people interested in learning more about genealogy. Their next meeting, open to the public, is June 11th, at 11:00am at the North Tonawanda Library Meeting Room. Niagara County Genealogical Society Board Member, Cindy Ribbeck will be speaking about using the internet resource, Cyndi's List. 

Photos courtesy Jeanette Sheliga