Genealogical Society of South Whidbey Island
old sepia photos

Programs for 2013 - 2014

(Programs for 2014 - 2015 will be posted as they are scheduled)

Monday September 9th: Monthly Program, 1:00 p.m.

Speaker:  Jan Sjåvik
Program:  Introduction to Norwegian Family History Research

Jan Sjavik Jan Sjåvik is Professor and Chair of the Department of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Washington, where he has taught since 1978. With degrees from Brigham Young University and Harvard, his primary areas of expertise are Scandinavian literature, Norwegian prose fiction, and critical theory. He has published four books as well as many articles and reviews. He has also been involved in Norwegian family history research for almost fifty years, and has taught the subject on and off for the past three decades.

Whether or not your interest is in Scandinavian Genealogy, you should try to attend this session since it is our only chance to hear this distinguished speaker.  More information can be found at

As always, annual membership fees are payable at the September meeting.

Monday October 14th: Monthly Program, 1:00 p.m.

Speaker:  Roger Sherman
Program: Whidbey Island History

Roger Sherman Roger Sherman is a well-known Whidbey Island historian and a descendant of island pioneers.  He lives in Coupeville and regularly leads tours of Sunnyside cemetery. Roger is an excellent speaker and a font of island family history and lore and has written extensively on Island County subjects.  His book on the Calista sinking can be purchased at the museum store in Coupeville or online.

Monday November 11th: Monthly Program, 1:00 p.m.

Speaker:  Eric Stroschein
Program:  Land Records and Mapping

Eric Stroschein Eric Stroschein is a professional forensic genealogist who owns, with his wife, Generations Detective, a genealogical research firm.  He is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, Genealogical Speakers Guild, National Genealogical Society and speaks frequently on a variety of subjects. 
Eric is the current Education Chair for the Skagit Valley Genealogical Society and co-chairs a committee of the Puget Sound Association of Professional Genealogists which examines genealogical education in the state and the Pacific Northwest. Eric has presented programs to GSSWI in the past and is one of our most popular speakers.  His program is sure to be interesting and informative.

Monday December 9th, Holiday Program, 1:00 p.m.

Program:  Annual Holiday Potluck and Personal Research Review

Holiday Wreath Come prepared to present a few words on an interesting aspect of your current research, an interesting book you've found or anything else notable you've discovered.  Family artifacts are also appropriate.

This will be our annual Holiday potluck luncheon.  Please bring a salad, entree or dessert sufficient to serve eight people.

Monday January 13th: Monthly Program, 1:00 p.m.

Speaker:  Doreen Johnson
Using Newspapers in your Genealogical Research

Doreen Johnson Our own, always available volunteer, Doreen Johnson, will be presenting this program on Newspaper Research.  Her presentations are always useful, informative and entertaining.  Be sure to attend this program!

Newspapers are rapidly being digitized all over the world and as a result they've been described by some people as the 'next big thing' in genealogical research.  Finding your ancestors in their local newspapers can make a world of difference in your understanding of their lives.  We'll discuss where to look for newspapers and how to use them when you do.

Monday February 10th: Monthly Program, 1:00 p.m.

Speaker:  Eva Doherty Gremmert
Program:  Irish Research: Searching for Tools to Break Down Your Brick Walls 

Eva Gremmert Eva Doherty Gremmert is a professional genealogist specializing in Irish research and  she has extensive research experience in the United States, Germany, United Kingdom and the Ukraine. Eva has spent 30 years traveling in the US and Europe, doing  research for herself and others.  

Eva was named the Worldwide Reunion Coordinator for the O’Dochartaigh clan, and is now planning the 2015 gathering. She is a founding member of the Irish Genealogical and Historical Society, and is currently on its board of directors. Eva has researched and published five books on her family history and hosts two major genealogy research websites. She and her husband Arden maintain homes in Carnation, WA and Carndonagh, Co. Donegal, Ireland. Contact her at

Monday March 10th: Monthly Program, 1:00 p.m.

Speaker: Mary Roddy
Program:  World War II Research - The Mark Golden Case Study

Mary Roddy Mary Roddy, a Certified Public Accountant, has been a genealogist since 2000.  She earned a certificate from the Genealogy and Family History program at the University of Washington in 2005 and is an active member of the Seattle Genealogical Society. She has served SGS in multiple board positions and on the seminar and education committees. In addition, she lectures frequently on various genealogical topics in the Seattle area. 

World War II is the earliest war where we can actually speak to the veterans themselves, the men and women who served.  This talk will present a case study, fleshing out a basic story of a pilot and crew of a B-17 shot down over Germany, illustrating how to find and access multiple sources to learn about the experiences of these heroes.   Mary Roddy has written an article, published in the May/June 2012 issue of Family Chronicle magazine, on her research into this story.

Monday April 14th: Monthly Program, 1:00 p.m.

Speaker:  Merv Scott
Program: Introduction to Canadian Genealogy

Merv Scott Merv is Projects Director for the Victoria Genealogy Society and an enthusiastic volunteer. When he's not travelling abroad or kayaking he is likely to be found working on one of his genealogy projects which include: recruited teachers in development of a free online resource for teachers and students called Genealogy in the Classroom; won international Ask Granny Chapter of the Year Award; wrote a youth activity book 'Who's in your family tree?'; leads the 'Voices of the Past' audio memory project; and more.

At our request, Merv will give an overview of where Canadian genealogical records may be hiding - from federal government archives, to Provincial regulatory bodies, to genealogy societies and more.
 Come and learn about Canadian genealogy!

Monday May 12th: Monthly Program, 1:00 p.m.

Speaker:  Claire Gebben
Program:  A  Hidden  Heritage: German  Immigrants of  the 19th  Century

Claire Gebben Claire Gebben studied genealogy with Sarah Thorsen Little at South Seattle Community College, is a member of the Eastside Genealogical Society in Bellevue, and has served for over ten years as the archivist of the First United Methodist Church of Seattle. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing.

The discovery, in an attic in Freinsheim, Germany, of old family letters launched Claire on a quest to find out about the life of her great-great grandfather Michael Harm, who emigrated from the Bavarian Rhineland to Cleveland, Ohio in 1857 to apprentice as a blacksmith. Growing fascinated with the 19th century German immigrant experience, she decided to write a novel based on the life of her ancestor, The Last of the Blacksmiths, published this February by Coffeetown Press.

Research on Michael Harm’s life led Claire into an age when the German immigrant population in some U.S. cities rivaled that of the English. In the mid-19th century, millions of Germans came to the New World in search of a better life. What influence did these German Americans have on the culture, politics, education, economics and family life of the day? And what has become of them? Claire will share insights learned along her journey, as well as unique issues regarding research into German family history.

Monday June 9th: Monthly Program, 1:00 p.m.

Speaker:  Gary Zimmerman
What can you do with Grandma's trunk?

Gary Zimmerman Gary Zimmerman, President of the Fiske Genealogy Library, and one of our all-time favorite speakers, will explore the options one has when seeking a willing repository of past genealogical research - how do you decide what goes to your own heirs, what is better sent to an appropriate genealogical society library, and when should materials be offered to museums and other repositories that may not have just a family history focus.  How you organize the files and library materials before making the offer of a gift will have a big impact on how they will be received by a new owner.  Grandmother may not have thought about these things, but you should probably consider it as you discover what is in her trunk and what you already have shelved away in your own home.  (The same questions may apply to genealogical societies themselves as their archives keep getting deeper and deeper!)