Get Involved > Volunteer > Genealogical Committee

In 1967, the Genealogical Committee was organized by a group of thirty individuals interested in pursuing genealogy.

The Genealogical Committee is a working committee of the Western Reserve Historical Society whose purpose is to further the study of genealogy through meetings, lectures, seminars, workshops and volunteering in the library. In addition the committee provides financial support in the acquisition of appropriate materials and equipment for the genealogical collections of the society’s library.

We work hard in the hobby that we love but we also know how to socialize through events that include our spouses, such as pot luck dinners, a cookout at Holden Arboretum and a boat ride up the Cuyahoga River.

The benefit of membership in the Genealogical Committee is the opportunity to gain additional knowledge about research techniques and what is new in the field of genealogy. Making new friends who share your interest in genealogy is a bonus.

Membership in the Genealogical Committee requires membership in the Western Reserve Historical Society and the payment of yearly dues of $20.00. 

How to Apply

To apply for membership in the Genealogical Committee contact:                                                                             

Joellen O’Neill at 216-481-1220 or

Sign Up Now for the WRHS Genealogical Committee Bulletin:
The Bulletin contains historical data of genealogical interest, announcements of genealogical seminars and meetings, a listing of genealogical collections recently acquired by the library and numerous other articles pertaining to genealogy. Issued quarterly.  Downloadable Subscription Form

Youth Roots Family History Writing Contest

The Western Reserve Historical Society’s Genealogical Committee is encouraging students to learn about their favorite ancestor and write about them. This is being fostered through the Youth Roots Family History Writing Contest. Students must submit a short essay (800-1200 words) by November 30, 2014 in order to be considered for the cash prize. As they explore their family history, help sessions with members of the Genealogical Committee are available to make research easier. The sessions are scheduled for Saturday, June 21 and Saturday, July 19. Students can register for help session online at Winning entries are eligible to win the following cash prizes: $100 for first place, $50 gift card for second place, and a $25 iTunes gift card for third place. Contestant entries will be judged by members of the Genealogical Committee. Email if you are interested in entering. Read about the FAQs by clicking here.

In addition to the yearly seminar, the WRHS Genealogical Committee hosts an array of family history research how-to programs. Each program is $15 and take place from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm in the WRHS Research Library's Hassler Room. Registration for each event in advance is required.  Click here to view the entire WRHS Calendar of Events.   

Be Your Family's Star With a Stellar Genealogy 
Saturday, September 6, 2014  
Noon to 3:00 PM 
Presented by Jean M. Hoffman, CG  
Genealogy Standards: what can they do for you? Jean will discuss the newly published version of genealogy standards that show steps in research that can help and guide us on the way to our family histories. Case studies will illustrate use of the process covered by genealogy standards. 
Saturday, September 27, 2014  
9:00 AM to 4:00 PM 
Presented by Claire Bettag, CG, FUGA 
Professional genealogist, Claire Bettag, offers four lectures focusing on lesser-used, but invaluable resources - specifically federal land records and "gov docs." 
Lectures being presented are: 
1. NARA at your Fingertips
2. Federal Land Records
3. Bounty-Land Records
4. Government documents and The U.S. Serial Set (published by the U.S. Government Printing Office)
For further information or to register online, e-mail Chris at  

Youth Roots Family History Writing Contest FAQs:

How do I get started?  
Informative help sessions with WRHS Genealogical Committee members are scheduled for Saturday, June 21 and Saturday, July 19 in the WRHS Research Library. Please register online at For further information email:
What can I write about? 
You can write: 
- A short biography of a deceased relative/ancestor, 
- Or a partial biography about an ancestor’s career, family life, hometown, military service, or another meaningful aspect of that person’s life, 
- Or an essay that places an ancestor’s life within their historical context or discusses how that relative is or is not “a product of their time.”    
- Can I have help? Yes! Our two free help sessions, Sat., June 21, and Sat., July 19, are available for you to receive guidance for your essay and research. Student admission is complimentary. An adult may accompany you at this session, adult admission fee is $10. Accompanying adults may give advice and suggestions, but the essay will be your own words and work.

What are the prizes?  
There are two divisions: Grades 7, 8, 9 and Grades 10, 11, 12. First, second and third prizes are in both divisions (First Prize: $100, Second Prize: $50, Third Prize: $25 gift card)

What else is there about the essay I should know? 
The DEADLINE is November 30, 2014. A single entry per student. Include student’s name, address, contact phone number or email number with entry.
Essay should have a title, be 800-1200 words in length, submitted in print form, double spaced, and submission must be postmarked by November 30, 2014. Address all entries to:
  Western Reserve Historical Society
  Genealogical Committee Youth Roots Contest
  10825 East Boulevard
  Cleveland, OH 44106.