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Patching together a family's history

April 25, 2001

Josh Goldstein

BURBANK -- More than 20 years ago, then-amateur genealogist Doug

Miller helped his daughter earn a Girl Scout merit badge by helping her

trace their family roots. Though the badge is in mothballs in a memento

box, Miller has not stopped researching family history, uncovering

generations of stories, relatives and the past.

For Miller, president of the Burbank-based Southern California


Genealogical Society, and many others who enjoy genealogy, tracing one's

family tree is a deep-rooted endeavor. "To some people, this becomes a

compulsion," said Miller, a retired IRS agent. "They have to find that

next generation."

As the American Family Immigration History Center at Ellis Island

released its massive index of names through the Internet last week,

several local genealogy centers offered tools and expertise to locate

one's lineage.

Miller joins about 1,400 members of the society who scour through

state census records, birth and death certificates, church histories and

military documents, trying to link one relative to another.

Miller's detailed family tree is displayed at the society's research

center. He has meticulously traced his roots to the mid-1600s, stopping

only because he ran out of room on the chart.

Genealogy is a hobby typically taken up by senior citizens, Miller

said, adding, "As you get older, it becomes more important to leave

something behind for your descendants."

Researching family history is a tedious hobby, because regardless of

how much detail familymembers recall, every fact must be verified before

moving to the next branch.

This area is rich in family history resource centers, said genealogist

Joan Phillips, a volunteer at the Southern California Genealogical

Society's library.

Phillips sometimes refers people to the Los Angeles Public Library in

downtown Los Angeles, which boasts a vast genealogy section. Other

abundant resources are the various libraries maintained by the Church of

Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The church's main center in West Los Angeles is a local mecca for

genealogy buffs and is open to the public.


Here is a list of libraries and a genealogical research sites that can

assist anyone tracing family roots. Most centers don't charge a fee to

use their materials, but donations are always appreciated.

* Southern California Genealogical Society and Family Research Library

417 Irving Drive


(818) 843-7247 * Immigrant Genealogical Society and Library

1310 W. Magnolia Blvd.


(818) 848-3122

* Los Angeles Public Library

The History & Genealogy Department

630 W. 5th St.

Los Angeles

(213) 228-7000

* Family History Center

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

10777 Santa Monica Blvd.


(310) 474-9990

* American Family Immigration History Center at Ellis Island

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