Genealogical Committee

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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.



April 8, 2017: SPRING SEMINAR: Researching Your Virginia Ancestors

Researching Your Virginia Ancestors
Presented by Barbara Vines Little, CG, FNGS, FVGS

Saturday, April 8, 2017
9:00am – 4:00pm
Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio

9:00 –9:30 Registration
9:30-10:45 Born in Virginia, How Do I Find Him?
Migrating ancestors often leave little trace of their origin other than family tradition or a census notation that they were from Virginia. Researchers who make the leap to Virginia record sources without sufficient preparation face little success and a great deal of frustration in their search. This lecture is based upon twenty years’ experience as a professional researcher tracing lost Virginia ancestors and details the approach most likely to produce a successful conclusion to the researcher’s quest.

11:00-12:15 Researching Virginia’s Records, Part 1 Covers the major record groups and sources for Virginia research including those available on the Web, in print and on microfilm. “Quirks” of the records and substitutes for lost records are also discussed.

12:15-1:30 Lunch (boxed lunches will be available for purchase the day of the seminar)

1:30-2:45 Researching Virginia’s Records, Part 2
Covers the major record groups and sources for Virginia research including those available on the Web, in print and on microfilm. “Quirks” of the records and substitutes for lost records are also discussed.

3:00-4:15 Virginia Sources for West Virginia Researchers
There are numerous sources of information for West Virginia researchers in early mother counties and state record groups. Based upon thirty years of West Virginia research much of it in Virginia record groups, this lecture provides an in-depth look at what West Virginia researchers can find in Virginia.

Barbara Vines Little:

Ed., University of Virginia; former president and director, National Genealogical Society; former president and governor, Virginia Genealogical Society; coordinator, Virginia track, Samford University’s Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, coordinator, Virginia track, SLIG (Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy); editor of the Virginia Genealogical Society’s quarterly Magazine of Virginia Genealogy and former editor bimonthly Virginia Genealogical Society newsletter.

Click here to purchase your tickets online now! 

More Information / Form Here: Researching Your Virginia Ancestors

May 6, 2017: The Italians in Cleveland: Their History & Communities: 12 noon to 3 p.m.  Pamela Dorazio Dean, WRHS Curator for Italian American History, will present the history of the Italians in Cleveland—their communities, occupations, social and religious groups that have enhanced the Cleveland landscape. Connie Sancetta, secretary of CIAO (Cleveland Italian Ancestry Organization) and volunteer assistant to Pamela, will offer research advice for tracing ancestors within the Northeast Ohio area.  Volunteers will be available after presentation to assist in research. A behind-the-scenes library tour is available after class. Fee $15. To register:

June 3, 2017: How to Prepare and Apply to a Lineage Society Workshop: 12 noon to 3 p.m.  What is a Lineage Society and why would I want to join?  How do I fill out an application? What documents are needed and how do I obtain them? Certified Genealogist Jean Hoffman will explain and walk attendees through the process of making applications. A behind-the-scenes library tour is available after class. 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.

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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