Since 2001 when the U.S. Congress proclaimed October as "Family History Month," genealogical societies and specialists around New England have offered tips and resources for making tracing roots a rewarding activity. At the Irish Cultural Centre of New England, the Library Committee, comprised of volunteers, offer library users a total of over 75 years of experience in genealogical research and discovery. The ICCNE is celebrating the month by hosting a Genealogy 101 Workshop for Beginners in Canton on Saturday, October 13th from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Michael Brophy of Abington, Massachusetts, who specializes in "Beginners Irish Topics" will provide a basic overview of practical internet tools and the use of Catholic records in genealogical searches. The session is open to the public for a fee of $25 for non-members and $20 for members. Pre-registration is recommended.
Dave Barrett, Chair of the ICCNE Library Committee, always looks forward to these introductory sessions. These are great opportunities providing "folks a taste of what genealogy is all about." Richard Reid, a volunteer who regularly assists library users on Friday evenings, notes that "while we volunteers will not do the actual work for you, we will help you get started and offer suggestions when you hit a wall." Judy Barrett, another member of the Library Committee lights up as she describes that, for her, "it?s seeing the „OMG? smile on faces when people using our library?s print and online sources recognize a fact or bit of information relevant to their families? stories." These are the folks who catch the bug and want to keep digging up connections. The ICCNE Library is fortunate to have another volunteer, Bernard Couming, who is also a lifetime member of ICCNE, and has been helping to create small, unique indexes and databases over the years. He finds that it?s the "little pieces gathered and small steps taken that lead to the big pieces of any genealogical puzzle." This being October, a time of graveyard walks, and Family History Month, Bernie quickly recalls his role in compiling the alphabetical index of surnames on the tombstones of Old St. Mary?s Cemetery located in Canton, Massachusetts. Since ICCNE is also located in Canton, Bernie sees his involvement in the project, sponsored by T.I.A.R.A. and the historical societies of Canton and Stoughton, as a way for him to help Canton residents and ICC visitors tap into both the rich genealogical collection of ICCNE and the details of this local cemetery. He likes that the ICCNE Library is able to reach out to its own local community and provide access to specialized knowledge and historical data.
"Honestly, around the Centre, there is such a steady interest in Irish roots that, here, every month is Family History Month" says Dave Barrett. Since the library hours are limited to Friday nights from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., the Library Committee appreciates library visitors making an appointment. This being said, it comes as no surprise to those accustomed to Irish hospitality that no one is turned away on a Friday evening when the library door is open. For more information and to register for the Genealogy 101 Workshop for Beginners on Saturday, October 13th please visit www.irishculture.org or call 781-821-8291.