The Past is Personal: Two Workshops

A pair of Saturday workshops April 6 and 13 will teach participants how to search for their ancestors, and then how to write about what they’ve found.

The Historical Society of the Town of Middletown will sponsor these workshops, to be held from 1 to 4 p.m. at Fairview Public Library, 43 Walnut St., Margaretville, NY. There is a $5 fee for each workshop. Participants may attend either or both sessions. Please register at or 845-586-4973.

On April 6, genealogist and library director Doris Warner will teach “Genealogy for Beginners.” This workshop for novice family researchers will help answer the question “Where do I start?” Doris will cover basic and sometimes overlooked sources for vital statistics, residency, and personal information, and will offer tips on organizing data and linking with other researchers following similar trails.

The following Saturday, April 13, journalist and family history hunter Violet Snow will present “Your Family History: Writing a Narrative.” Violet is a freelance journalist who has written about her family history for The New York Times “Disunion” blog, Civil War Times, American Ancestors and the Woodstock Times.

Explains Violet, “You want to preserve your family lore and genealogical research in the form of stories your relatives can read. Maybe you’d like to write an essay for publication. This one-session class will help you decide where to start, or if you’ve been writing, it will help you move forward. We’ll talk about finding an emotional hook to focus your narrative, the importance of details, the historical setting, and what these stories mean to the living. Writing exercises will provide an easy way into the subject, and everyone will go home with a strategy for sharing the stories of their ancestors.”

Participants should bring pen and paper, and are invited to bring a few photos of ancestors and/or physical artifacts (historical documents or possessions), if available.