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Branching out

Researchers are climbing their family tree with help online from blogs, Twitter and Facebook.

June 27, 2009|By Joyce Rudolph

Tracking one’s ancestry has become high-tech, drawing devotees to the 40th annual Genealogy Jamboree this weekend at the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel and Convention Center.

Presenting the event is the Southern California Genealogical Society, which makes its home at its Family Research Library, also in Burbank. Society members have organized a weekend of workshops, lectures and a how-to on using computers to access census and other family records like birth, death and marriage certificates.

New technology, like blogs, are one of the new ways people are finding their relatives, said Paula Hinkel, publicity chairwoman for the jamboree. “There are lots of different blogs,” she said. “Some let you know about new products and services for genealogy research. Some are blogs about particular family research. For example, one of our bloggers put up all his family on a blog — text and pictures of his family history.”

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Some blogs provide a specific type of family research, like Tracing the Tribe, which is just for those of Jewish faith, and then some bloggers create podcasts, she said.

“It all fits in this new world of communication,” she said. “We have a lot of Twitter people at the jamborees. It’s just another way to communicate with each other and find potential cousins. It’s all about finding family members who are trying to trace families.”

The three-day event opened Friday with free workshops. The talks included a Kids Family History Camp for youngsters 8 to 16, a beginners workshop and advanced beginners workshop, Hinkel said.

This is the second year the society is presenting a camp at its jamboree. It was first done three years ago at the genealogical library, she added.

“Last year, we had 20 kids, but this year we have over 85 registered, and we expect there will be walk-ins. We’re tickled pink, she said. “A lot of the society members started out as Boy and Girl Scouts doing it for merit badges. I still have my badge on the sash.”

Burbank resident Sean Sturrock, 16, an Eagle Scout with Troop 209, is trying to earn his Genealogy Merit Badge. He created a family tree on a computer program by interviewing his grandfather, aunts and uncles and submitted a printout of his work Friday for approval by society members.

The John Burroughs junior discovered things about his relatives that he never would have known, he said.

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