Genealogical Committee

Gen Committee Logo


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.

2018 WRHS Genealogical Committee Classes & Programs

3 November 2018: How Google Smashed My Brick Wall

A case study on using the most powerful search engine to solve a genealogical problem. Followed by tips and tricks on effective Google searches for better results. Presented by Candy Meeson. A behind-the-scenes library tour is available after class.  Fee $15. To register: or purchase a ticket here:

1 December 2018: Genealogical Committee Meeting and Pot Luck. No Classes.

5 January 2019: “AncestryDNA Workshop”
If you’ve taken an AncestryDNA test and would like to understand the results better, this class is for you. We will cover ethnicity estimates and what they mean as well as DNA matches and how to determine the relationship with these people. Bring a laptop to follow along.
Fee $15. To register:

2 February 2019: “How To Date Your Old Photos Without Breaking Up With Them”
Lysa Stanton, president of the Westlake Historical Society, will give tips on how to determine the approximate time period of old photos based on clues within the photos. Hairstyles and clothing show the fashions throughout time. Lysa will teach what trends were in which time period.
Fee $15. To register:

9 March 2019: “Opening the Door to Family History”
This class is designed for the beginning researcher. We’ll cover how to get started, using home sources, how to organize your material, the basics of documenting and great websites you can use. Our Special Invitation again this year: BOGO—Bring One Get One—invites you and a guest to attend this class for $15. Bring a family member or friend. You must register yourself and your guest by name. Presenter will be Genealogical Committee Member Heber MacWilliams. A behind-the-scenes tour of the library is available after class. To register:

4 May 2019: “Secrets Within Us: A Genetic Odyssey”
Two case studies presented by Chris Staats demonstrate the application and usefulness of yDNA and autosomal DNA testing, as well as the secrets they uncovered.
Fee $15. To register:

1 June 2019: “Lineage Societies Workshop”
Joining a lineage society is an excellent way to preserve your genealogy records for future generations. Learning to prepare the application helps you become a better genealogist. Presented by the president of the Ohio Genealogical Society and the chair of the First Families of Ohio lineage group, Margaret Cheney.
Fee $15. To register:


All classes will take place from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the Hassler Room of the WRHS Research Library in the WRHS History  Center at 10825 East Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio 44106
For more information, call 216-721-5722 ext 1509

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Youth Roots Family History Writing Contest

The Western Reserve Historical Society Genealogical Committee encourages    students to explore their family history. Tracing family history bridges generations & is a compelling link to your past.

Who can enter?

Any student residing in the Northeast Ohio area. There are two divisions:  Grades 7-9 & Grades 10-12.

What are the Prizes?

Cash prizes are given in each division: First Prize, $100; Second Prize, $50; Third Prize, $25.

PLUS: Teachers of the First Prize winners receive a complimentary one-year membership to Western Reserve Historical Society (this includes Hale Farm & Cleveland History Center).

What can I write about?

  • Write a short biography about a deceased relative/ancestor.
  • Write about his/her career, hometown, military service, or some aspect of their life.
  • Write about your ancestor’s experiences with emphasis on place and time in history.

How do I begin?

  • Identify an ancestor to write about.
    • Gather information about your subject. Conduct personal interviews, gather family documents and memorabilia, review online resources (AncestryLibrary, FamilySearch etc.)

Can I have help with my project? 

  • Visit the WRHS Research Library during open hours Thursday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Library Volunteers and Staff can assist with research strategies and suggest sources.
  • For one-on-one assistance call the Research Library 216-721-5722 ext. 1509 and schedule an appointment to work with a library volunteer.
  • WRHS Research Library provides access to and other helpful websites.  In addition, you’ll have access to a wealth of books, manuscripts and newspapers.
  • You can also email any questions to:     Subject Line:  “Youth Roots 2017”
  • You can access from other public libraries.

What are the requirements for the contest?

One submission per student.

All submissions should be original, unpublished work with citations.

Please use: for citations.

Place citations on a separate sheet from entry submission)

            One source must be from a library collection, either in printed form or electronic database. 

Entry should have a title, be 800-1200 words in length, double-spaced. 

No graphics or photos allowed.

Submissions must include: Name of student author, home or school address, email address, school name and address, grade level, and teacher’s name & contact information.

 When is the deadline?

  • All entries are due by December 31. Entries postmarked or emailed by that date to
  • Students will receive confirmation within one week of submission. Haven’t heard?      Contact Ed Bolte at
  • Only winning entries will be contacted

Written submissions can be mailed to: Western Reserve Historical Society, c/o Genealogical Committee, Youth Roots Contest, 10825 East Blvd., Cleveland, OH 44106

Email submissions can be sent to  subject line: Youth Roots Entry. All submissions must contain the same information: student’s name, home or school address, grade level, teacher’s name & contact information. This information should be in the body of the email, and the entry must be an attachment, not in the body of the email.

Teachers, educators, and parents: click on the following link:

yr2017 for teachers


All prizes and gifts are funded by the Genealogical Committee. All entries become the property of the Genealogical Committee. Entries will be judged by those members